"The Road Ahead"
When I first got into Yellowstone, it was a dark, cold, and confusing place. Amidst all the construction going on, I had thought that my photographic opportunities may have been limited. However, I'm glad I was wrong.
From the start of the next day, when I visited the hot springs, I knew I had struck a gold mine. I even endured the awful smell of sulfur coming up from the ground to walk on the boardwalk to check out some pretty neat looking microorganisms that live in the scalding hot waters, and bring with them an abundance of color in an otherwise barren and uninviting landscape.
Even though the springs were cool, I really wanted to shoot the animals (with a camera, of course). The next day, I woke up at 5 am to embark on the one-hour drive to Lamar Valley, which is one of the hot spots for animal activity, especially in the morning. On our way there, we got stopped by a HUGE herd of bison trying to cross the road. There were probably at least 100, and they were clearly in no hurry to cross the road, so when a clear path was possible, we booked it and headed to the valley. More bison, more bison, and more bison. After a while it started to get pretty ubiquitous, until we saw a sleeping wolf from afar. Even with my 300mm telephoto I had to zoom in all the way on my LCD screen to see the outline of the creature. We then decided to head into Montana, at the northeast entrance. The Soda Butte River runs so clean and clear that I couldn't help but lower my flask into the river and take a nice big gulp of clear and clean mountain water. I have yet to taste anything like it, it was incredible. On the way back, we saw a pronghorn antelope right by the road, and even more bison.
Perhaps the highlight of the animal part of the trip was sunset at Hayden Valley, where huge bull elk were plentiful and happy to pose for cameras. They were a bit too curious of us, though, because I kept having to step away from them as they drew closer to the small group that had gathered to admire these large animals in their home environment. I ended up staying up late and got some milky way shots, too. Even from the hotel room, the night sky was the clearest I have ever seen it.
The Grand Canyon is a pretty grand sight, but the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is just as jaw-dropping. With less fences and people to worry about, I was able to get some pretty impressive images from places my parents really didn't know about. There were platforms going right next to the waterfall, and remnants of an very sketchy stairway that had been closed down due to safety concerns some years before.
All in all, my three day experience at Yellowstone was truly unforgettable, and I could easily spend another week there if I wanted to. Highly recommend this place for nature lovers and photographers alike. Don't feed the bears!