Yellowstone and its nature is one of the most beautiful places we have seen so far. There is something about this place that gives tourists a peace of mind. What could be better than wandering around the park, seeing amazing views and taking photos of roaming bison or elk?
As it was mentioned in our the firstpost to the Yellowstone adventure, it is the oldest and probably the most famous park in the world.
People from different countries come to Yellowstone to see by themselves how beautiful it is and how unbelievable can the nature be. The park has several villages, each close to a certain landmark in the park: Mammoth which is the closest to the northern entrance to the park and the Mammoth Hot Spring Terrace, Lake village, Canyon village, Grand village, Fishing Bridge and Old Faithful, which is the biggest and the most visited village of them all.
More about the villages themselves will come soon and for now we want to focus on the most important aspect of travelling to Yellowstone – safety.
Every year people get injured by animals in the park and many of them don’t see what they’re doing wrong until they actually get hurt. They just want to pet the bison or take a cute picture with an elk.
Yellowstone is a zoo in reverse, animals get to see humans just a couple of months each year. They have the right to wander around whenever and wherever they want to and we, as visitors, should respect that. Apart from bison and elk, tourists should take caution and beware bears and wolfs.
There are many, many other animals that could be seen in the park but those are the most popular ones that most people come to Yellowstone to see. The rule – if it is a herbivore (read: bison, elk, moose, deer etc.) stay 25 meters or yards away, and if it is a carnivore (read bear and wolf), stay at least a 100 meters/yards away.
I know and understand the appeal of seeing an animal from close proximity, believe me. But that not something you do with (in most cases, very hungry) predators or animals that consider you a predator and will defend themselves by hurting you in any way they can.
That being said, if you have a nice pair of binoculars or a spotting scope, you will see whatever you wish to see, and more, all from the safe distance.
There are a few rules that can reduce the not necessarily pleasant encounter with the animals. I like to call them “The golden rules” because they are absolutely necessary while in Yellowstone, or honestly, in any other national park/wilderness or a place where you might find wildlife:
- Carry a bear spray in bear country – make sure you buy one and always have it with you. Not hidden somewhere at the bottom of you backpack because the bear will not wait for you to take it out. It needs to be in a place where you can reach it fast. Always have it on hand and know how to use it.
- Don’t walk alone – hiking in a bigger group helps as you make more noise just by talking, so wild animals are aware of your presence. During our time in Yellowstone we were told that bears can count and they know if we are with friends or not.
- Don’t walk at night – if you don’t have to go out anywhere, it is better to stay in the room after sunset. You cannot see the animals but they can definitely see (and smell) you. If you have to go out, always take a flashlight and make loads of noise.
- If the sign says “NO ENTRY”, it says that for a reason. Some trails are closed from time to time because animals move to other parts of the park and rangers put the signs for people to know they shouldn’t walk on the particular path. It is better to obey those rules than to stand face to face with a big black bear, or worse, grizzly. Paying a (heafty) fine can also be included.
- Remember that the park is a home for those animals. Don’t destroy it, litter or think you have the right to do whatever you want because you paid the entrance fee.
Yellowstone is an amazing place and if only you are kind to it, it will be kind to you!
Stay tuned for next post and follow our footsteps!