by Billy Mitchell
America’s First National Park – Yellowstone
In March of 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant created the United States’ first national park when he signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act into law. This national park existed even before the National Park Service Organic Act was passed in August of 1916 by Woodrow Wilson which gave birth the jobs of Park Rangers. Yellowstone has a long, vibrant history.
A Family Vacation – Billings, Montana to Yellowstone
My wife, Michelle, took a travel nursing assignment at a hospital in Billings, Montana so that our family could visit some of America’s best vacation destinations. On this particular outing, my wife, myself, and our 2 teenage daughters, Kieran and Dorthea, left Billings and travelled west on I-90 to Laurel, Montana where we turned south onto Highway 212, which is also called the Beartooth Highway. We travelled south through Red Lodge, Montana and then through Beartooth Pass to the Yellowstone border.
Into The Park!
Our first order of business was lunch. We stopped at the Soda Butte picnic area a few miles into the park on the Northeast Entrance Road and ate sandwiches and drank sodas while soaking in the beautiful surroundings of Soda Butte Creek and the valley it runs through. After eating, we continued farther into the park until the local wildlife stopped the traffic for a photo op.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River
Once we reached Tower Roosevelt we turned onto the Grand Loop Road, Canyon-Tower by the iconic Roosevelt Lodge and Cabins. We stayed on this road passing Tower Falls and Mt. Washburn to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River area. We turned onto North Rim Drive and stopped at various lookouts and trails such as Grand View, Lookout Point, Uncle Tom’s Trail, and Artist’s Point.
Traversing the Geyser Basin
After traversing the N. Rim Dr. we ended up back at Canyon Village where we headed west on Norris Canyon Road. Eventually, we ran into the west side of Grand Loop Rd where we turned south into the geyser basin area. Our first stop was the Artists Paint Pot area.
After the Paint Pots, we continued south on Grand Loop Rd. to the rest of the geyser basin eventually ending up at the iconic Old Faithful geyser. We stopped at the areas known as Beryl Springs, Firehole River Swimming Area, Grand Prismatic Springs, Dragon Springs, and Old Faithful.
Last Stop…Mammoth Springs!
After we watched Old Faithful do what its known for we traveled to Mammoth Springs before leaving. It definitely was huge and absolutely beautiful to look at!
Until Next Time, Yellowstone!
After leaving Mammoth Springs, we travelled south again past Old Faithful and made our way out of the park past Yellowstone and Lewis Lakes to the town of Dubois, Wyoming. From there we travelled, over the next few days, back to our home in Texas.
We will never forget the spectacular time we had in Yellowstone National Park and we can’t wait go back. Since Yellowstone is about 2.2 million acres of wilderness, you could go every year of your life and never get to see all of it. I take that as a challenge!