It is said "There is no place on earth like Yellowstone National Park -- for no other place compares with its collection of geological features, bountiful wildlife, pristine rivers and streams, tumbling virgin forests and scenic vistas." Well, we agree, driving into the original, northern, entrance with its arch dedicated by President Roosevelt in 1903, that this is and will always be a very special place. A President and Congress had the courage and vision to recognize that the 2.2 million acre area contained unique features that should be preserved forever. And so Yellowstone was dedicated - the first National Park in 1872. This was the beginning of the amazing National Park system with which we are blessed today. Mike and I had already visited Yellowstone from the south, so we now focused our Yellowstone fix on the northern loop. While we traveled the loop we were continually amazed at the vistas, outcroppings, wildlife and just kept saying "WOW!" The northern entrance we used is the only entrance open year-around. The road from this entrance follows the Yellowstone River almost all the way to Mammoth Hot Springs, where most of the administrative facilities for the whole park can be found, before jogging east. Words and pictures do not give justice to this park, it must be experienced. A must for your bucket list.
While most of Yellowstone is in Wyoming, our basecamp was Rocky Mountain Park in Gardiner, MT, just 4 blocks from the northern entrance and 1 block up the hill from town. Here we met our new trailer-trash friends Carey and Chuck from Las Vegas traveling with their two kids. Gardiner is a western town with a focus on Yellowstone. Whitewater rafting, kayaking and playing in the Yellowstone River, which flows from in the park and right through town, all start here.