My son and I visited Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park in the past week. We enjoyed seeing beautiful scenery, picturesque views, and wildlife in only a few days of visiting both of these parks.
My son at Roosevelt Arch, Yellowstone National Park, July 8, 2017
Yellowstone is a huge park, with primary points of interest scattered around it. That caused much driving and time on the road to see places such as Mammoth Hot Springs; Steamboat Geyser at the Norris Geyser Area; the Roosevelt Arch; Yellowstone Lake; Grand Prismatic Spring; Mud Volcanoes; and of course, Old Faithful. We enjoyed seeing bison, elk, cranes, deer, and other wildlife.
We drove to Yellowstone through Grand Teton National Park, and enjoyed amazing mountain views, beautiful lakes, and pretty wildflowers. We saw a herd of bison some miles outside of Grand Teton National Park, between Jackson, Wyoming. And, Teton Gap, driving down into Jackson was pretty amazing, too! What a view, and such pleasant weather and temperatures we enjoyed!
Besides all of the driving, and delays from road construction in Yellowstone, the most unpleasant thing we experienced, overall, were interactions with park rangers. One of the first encounters with a Yellowstone park ranger was outside the Albright Visitor Center at Mammoth Hot Springs. He was a self-appointed Elk Police Officer who was totally over the top in accosting, stalking, and harassing my son and I while observing and photographing elk near the visitor center.
On July 9, my son and I were at least 50 feet away from several elk and their young that were laying on the ground, yet the park ranger accosted us from his position across the street, telling us to stay away from the elk! At 50 feet away, he yelled at us to stay away from the elk, and then, he stalked and continued to harass us about it as I called to him that we were going to our car. He actually crossed the street, harassed us, and followed us to our car. He only left us alone once we got in our car. I told the guy to get lost, and he replied the same to me! Wow, what was his problem!? He was definitely extremely unprofessional, and a pathetic example of the park rangers employed at Yellowstone.
That was the worst experience we had at Yellowstone, and one to cause me not to want to return. We definitely don’t need to be treated in such a horrible manner! There were also two other instances of park rangers at Yellowstone being less than professional. One accosted us from afar, again, at Old Faithful. We reached down to touch water on the boardwalk, and the guy told us we committed a “federal crime.” Really? We were on the boardwalk, and he was trying to tell us we weren’t. Was he blind?
Chalk that up to another sexist male park ranger who has issues with women – or at least single women. Neither of the those rangers treated men in the same manner. On the boardwalk, a man reached down and touched water, and nothing was said to him. And, at Albright with the elk, there were two other instances of men my son and I observed who were no more than 10 feet away from the elk, taking pictures, but the Elk Cop didn’t harass or stalk them, or make them feel threatened by chasing them into their cars.
Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, July 10, 2017 (zoomed in)
Yet another park ranger refused to allow me to use a restroom in a campground. I had to drive to another location 12 miles away to use the restroom for goodness sakes! There were at least as many negative as positive interactions we had with park rangers at Yellowstone. We did have good experiences hearing rangers give talks at Steamboat Geyser and the Norris Educational Center. Thank you, Rangers Diana and Laurie, for those educational and interesting ranger talks. Your professionalism helped make our visit a little more enjoyable. My son also earned a junior ranger patch by completing the associated book; thank you to Ranger Jim for making that a positive experience for him.
That stated, my son and I enjoyed a fun time at Yellowstone, overall. Visiting Jackson, Wyoming, and seeing the Teton Mountains was lovely, too. It would have been nicer, however, to photograph a few elk without being unnecessarily and unprofessionally harassed by a park ranger, especially after traveling across the country and spending $1,000s to visit Yellowstone. While Yellowstone is not my favorite park of all of the national parks I’ve visited, it was nice to see and good to have as protected land, even though some of the park rangers need to work on their people skills!