In order to get to Yellowstone we had to drive through Central Wyoming and cross Bighorn Mountain range. We were looking for a place to camp for that night, and Bighorn National Forest was right on the way. So we set our way there through Buffalo.
The drive began to change slowly. The flat prairie lands started to get more shape. Little canyons appeared here and there. The landscape was gaining more character…
And then we got hit by a massive storm. I have never seen anything like it in my life. We entered complete darkness. First, there were gusts of wind – they would kick the side of the car, swerving it out of the lane. Then, the rain started – little drops on the windshield turned into a dense wall in some 30 seconds, if not less… I flashed hazard lights and pulled over to the side of the highway. Jackson and I switched seats without even leaving the car! The storm raged for about an hour and a half – we slowly continued our journey.
Bighorn Mountains lay ahead. This was our first mountain pass to cross on a little Ежмобиль.
I jumped back at the wheel and that was a miscalculation. Steep elevation, curvy turns and a narrow road were quick to put me on edge.
It was also my first time driving a car with manual transmission up the hill and I wasn’t very smooth at downshifting. So, entering our proposed campsite area Jackson and I were arguing. Too bad, because we were greeted by two moose right as we were making the turn to the Forest road.
There it was, the majestic view of the mountains with the wildflower field in the forefront. The sun was setting and it started to get chilly. We made a fire and dinner and set up tent. Next morning revealed the first glimpse of the West to us.
We got back on the road and kept on driving. Yellowstone was the second National Park on our route, and the first internationally famous one. At the end of our visit we were left with some mixed feelings. Of course, the nature itself was incredible and very unique. However, the park’s organization seemed to be geared towards a very different type of tourist.
The park is set up as a giant 142-mile driving loop within the caldera, with entrances from the South, East, North, Northeast and West. The roads are maintained in excellent condition, but the distances are vast. Most “Points of Interest” are located along the route and are accessible by car.
Exploring Yellowstone included a tedious amount of driving, some of it at night. We had to always be on the lookout for deer and elk leaping on the road. To see a natural sight, you just had to drive there, pull over at a designated spot and walk for about 5 minutes or less. The park has great views for you to enjoy, all carefully selected and prepared; and you are expected to happily snap a couple of shots and move on. No effort needed; nature is served to you conveniently on a plate. It felt like we could see only a tiny glimpse of what Yellowstone truly had to offer.
That said, those sights nevertheless were fascinating. It all seemed to be a part of a different world. The ground was moving under our feet, bubbles of mud appearing in weird places, layers of smoke erupting from the ground. Incredible color palettes created a vision of an alien planet never seen before.