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Photo: Yellowstone National Park
While the question of the most beautiful state in America is completely subjective, Wyoming makes a pretty compelling argument. Yellowstone National Park is the best testament for Wyoming. Enormous and sprawling, it lives up to its reputation. It’s some of the best scenery America has to offer when it comes to the mountainous region of the United States. So many parts of Yellowstone are completely untouched, and the National Parks Services works to keep it this way. When I recently had the privilege of visiting there, it took some effort to decide what I wanted to explore. I became anxious about this in advance, so decided to do some pre-visit research and planning. The old reliable internet search became very helpful. I filtered for things that were, of course, breathtaking views and unique to this area. Here are three tips in preparing for an enjoyable and fulfilling tour of Yellowstone.
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Yellowstone National Park – Approaching a National Park Can Be Overwhelming. Tech is Here to Help
Since I had never been to Yellowstone before, I had a deep fear that I wouldn’t be able to take full advantage of being there. What would I do first? Where should I stop? How often should I stop? My Google search resulted in varying degrees of helpful information, but I finally stumbled upon the Gy-PSy Travel Guide App and the Recreation.gov App to aid me in this pursuit. There are other apps similar to this, such as the National Park Service App, Yellowstone Explorer, GeyserTimes, et cetera that I also perused in the research process. I eventually settled on the Gy-PSy Travel Guide App because I gravitated towards the format and it seemed like the easiest to use and set up.
I had no idea this kind of app existed. I downloaded The Gy-PSy App to my phone and was amazed at the quality of content and the helpfulness it provided. The point of this app (and other apps like it) is to provide a navigated experience through national park systems. With this particular app, there is really very little planning involved; you simply turn it on and start driving. Based on your vehicle’s location, the friendly Gy-PSy guide will begin speaking as you come in proximity to a point of interest. The guide also provides interesting history and context about a region as you drive between stops on your tour. You will also be apprised of specifics such as the popularity of each location, the size of each mountain, the name of landmarks, how they were named, and how close to the nearest restaurants and bathrooms if a break is needed.
The guide also hints at when to stop, or not stop, at a particular view by adding things such as, “This is a must see” or “If you are pressed for time, you might want to skip this.” It had a lot to say about Old Faithful, categorizing different types of geysers, informing of the various wildlife that pop up there, and what the wildlife is like. To top it all off, it was all communicated in a conversational tone that never got boring and made it feel like I had someone else in the car with me. I could not imagine my trip without this app. It helped me organize my trip on a level that I couldn’t have done myself. If I ever go to another national park, I will definitely be using this app again. Another useful app is the Recreation.gov app. This allows one to get a timed entry pass into the park, so that visitor entries are staggered throughout the day.
Climbing Altitudes Can Severely Affect Our Bodies in Multiple Different Ways
It’s a no-brainer that while traversing through Yellowstone, you’ll pass into some abnormally high altitude. The effects incurred from this can potentially make you feel dizzy, lightheaded, and underprepared for a long hike in the park. The answer to this problem is actually pretty simple: lots of hydration. Drinking water helps compensate for low oxygen levels that may occur at high altitudes.
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I made sure to pack a cooler filled with water bottles. I also made sure to drink from one of these water bottles at least every half hour. This way, I always felt energized and able to enjoy the beautiful scenery around me. I felt like I could fully participate in whatever the day had to offer me, whether that meant hiking a trail, or climbing giant rocks, or traversing mountains, or walking around geysers. I also noticed a lot of other people carrying around water bottles too, which makes sense since it’s a fairly common practice among hikers.
Starting Your Day Early Is the Simplest Solution to Getting the Most Out of the Landscape
This one is also a no-brainer. Yellowstone is nearly 3,500 square miles. There’s so much beauty to explore, almost too much: unless you’re staying there for a while, it’s hard to see everything. Most of the planning you’ll be doing will be how to fit everything you want to see into the self-allotted time for your trip.
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This is why I chose to start every day at 8:00 am with a plan to get to the park around 9:00 am. This enabled me to stop at several different places over a few days. I ended my days around 5:00 or 6:00. This is smart for a couple of reasons. One obvious reason is an increase in the number of things you’re able to see: however, there are other reasons too. You will get to see geysers in all different weather patterns the longer you’re out in the park, which means you’ll get to see them in many different contexts and pushing water out at many different frequencies. The weather can affect geysers’ activity, which means at different parts of the day they could be more active than other parts. It is also affected by rainfall levels during the day. The second reason will be the angle of the sun. This will create new ways to enjoy and appreciate Yellowstone. Certain areas will look different at 10:00 am vs 4:00 pm. A geyser under a bright sunny day might come out looking totally different in picture form compared to a geyser at sunset.
Overall, these tips can improve your experience and certainly helped me fully appreciate how great Yellowstone is. Staying hydrated, and doing some pre-travel planning were crucial in maximizing my visit. Hopefully, these tips can help you if you ever choose to head over to Yellowstone.
By Zachary DePiore
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