We packed up and headed out of the Weary Rest Yellowstone Inn and found a nice roadside picnic area near a river where we stopped to enjoy a breakfast of eggs and sausage. We also spotted some logs that looked like they had been cut from a tree that had previously fallen across the road.
“That would make great firewood,” we thought. So just before we left we quickly tossed half of the stack into the van for the next few nights of campfires.
We made a few stops along the way—at whatever sights sounded interesting or seemed worth pulling over for.
After a short drive of more wonderful scenery we decided to take a stop by the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I was expecting a neat canyon with a river—but what we saw far exceeded my expectations! It was 800-1,200 feet deep and 24 miles long. I was stunned and blown away with how incredible it was!
We were able to hike down pretty close to the massive waterfall that we looked down upon minutes before. The sheer volume of water was incomprehensible. A near perpetual rainbow was created by the mist of the waterfall—as if the view wasn’t already impressive enough.
I had never even heard of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone until about 10 minutes prior. I have no pretense of knowing all the great and wonderful spots in the world, but I started thinking about how many absolutely stunning sites like this must exist all across the globe that I’ve never even heard of. How I longed to be an early explorer seeing this land in its pure and untouched form.
I often think about how I wish I had eternity to simply explore an early untouched version of Earth. To spend a lifetime living in Yellowstone. A lifetime living in the great mountains of China. A lifetime living on the coast of Thailand. I recently read about a tribe that would uproot itself every 20-30 years—not because of necessity or because of any nomadic requirements, but to keep the tribe fresh and to avoid complacency. They would move far enough to where they would have to find new sources of water, new hunting grounds, location new medicinal plants, etc. Reading about this tribe made me think how many of us have competing desires to put down roots as well as to wander and explore. When life has the perfect tension between comfort and new challenges we feel the most fulfilled. This tribe possessed all the skills and organization that it needed to thrive but the occasional move every 20-30 years was a revitalizing shot—to discover new things, to build again, and to settle again.
I experienced this tension in myself throughout this trip. Every place we went was somewhere I wanted to stay forever—yet I couldn’t wait to discover the next destination.
We continued north toward Mammoth Hot Springs where we would set up camp for the night, making a few more stops along the way.
Northern Yellowstone was incredible. Every turn opened up miles of beautiful landscape—360 degrees of absolute beauty. As we approached the campground we saw many buffalo and elk loitering around in the small town just near the campgrounds. There was the post office with a buffalo in the front lawn. In the other direction, near the grocery store was a large elk. It was a strange sight indeed!
Near our campground was a large hill that some of us wandered up. To this day, I have the fondest memories of this hilltop. It was so peaceful. I sat in wonder thinking about how our trip had been so good so far. How fortunate I felt to be there in that present moment. We sat and watched the sun set and just soaked it all in. Rocks and wildflowers peppered the landscape. A small herd of elk was off to one side in the distance.
“There’s no good way to describe it. It is so beautiful and glorious,” I wrote in my journal.
So many aspects of the trips were indescribable. There was so much to see. So much laughter. So many stories. So much to see and take in.
I’ll close with the last three words from my journal on this day:
“Amazing. Beautiful. Goodnight.”