The Yellowstone Epidemic

What is it about 2016? I don’t know if it’s the fact that it’s the 100th birthday of the National Park Service or what, but this travel season seems to have brought out all the idiots. And sent them to Yellowstone.

Allow me to preface this by saying one thing: I realize that accidents happen. I realize that there will always be people who break rules. And maybe I react more severely to this rule-breaking than others because I grew up visiting Yellowstone multiple times a year and I’m very protective of it. But this is getting ridiculous. It’s only mid-June and already there have been at least 7 major incidents in the park – not to mention who knows how many minor incidents that haven’t made national news.

I’m sure many of you have heard about these. First was a group from Canada who were caught walking off-boardwalk. But they weren’t just off the boardwalk – they were ON a thermal feature. All for the sake of video footage.

Next came the two tourists who picked up an abandoned baby bison and put it in their car because they thought it was cold. Now, I realize that abandonment of a tiny animal is upsetting. It makes me sad too. But it’s a part of nature. Baby animals are abandoned for many reasons. In fact, some species regularly give birth to two babies at a time and only select one to raise. That’s just how it is. By “rescuing” this baby bison, these tourists interfered with nature, which is the very thing that Yellowstone is designed to protect. Continue reading

An Unexpected Surprise – Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

It took a bit of convincing for me to get my family on board with adding Cedar Breaks National Monument to our itinerary. It’s tiny, was somewhat out of our way, and most people haven’t even heard of it. Cedar Breaks is located in southern Utah, about 30 minutes east of Cedar City. It’s also only about an hour and a half from Zion National Park, so they could easily be combined into one trip.

Getting to Cedar Breaks is an adventure of its own. From the Grand Canyon, we took US Highway 89 up to Utah Highway 14, which winds through the Dixie National Forest. It also climbs up – very quickly, I might add – until we reached Cedar Breaks. But if we thought this was steep, we were in for a bit of a shock…the road out of Cedar Breaks to the north descends at a 10% grade for 14 miles! Continue reading

Interrupting Deer and White-tailed Squirrels – Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (part IV)

The next morning, we headed off to explore the north rim of the Grand Canyon. There’s only one campground inside this section of the park, located near the visitor center at Bright Angel Point. From the visitor center, a 0.5 mile round-trip paved trail leads out to Bright Angel Point, which was where we’d watched the sunset the previous evening. From this area, we backtracked slightly to where Cape Royal Road branches off from the main road.

Unlike the south rim, in which the road parallels the rim of the canyon, Cape Royal Road extends out into the canyon, following the Walhalla Plateau 20 miles out to Cape Royal. Cape Royal is relatively in the center of the canyon; it was a very different perspective, seeing the canyon on all sides of me. It made me feel very small and isolated. We began our day here. From the end of the road, we hiked the Cape Royal Trail, a 0.6-mile round-trip easy hike along the edge of the Walhalla Plateau. It provided views of the canyon, the Colorado River, and a hole in the wall called Angel’s Window. Continue reading

From Rim to Rim – Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (part III)

After two wonderful days exploring the south rim of the Grand Canyon, it was time to pack up and head to the north rim. From Mather Campground, we followed Desert View Road east out of the park, stopping at the viewpoints we’d skipped on the way in.

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Grandview Point – South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

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