At home in south Yellowstone

Since arriving on Sept. 14th, we’ve driven most of the roads that traverse the park’s 2.2 million acres.

By no means have we seen everything there is to see – that is an impossible feat – but we have accomplished a lot in three weeks. After the numerous hot springs, geysers, waterfalls, trails, canyons and wildlife we’ve taken in so far, south Yellowstone is my favorite region of the park.

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The Lewis Lake campground where we are stationed for one more week is located 12 miles from the park’s south entrance. There are few popular attractions south of the West Thumb Geyser Basin, which marks the junction to our north.

Down here, boardwalks are replaced by dirt trails. Expensive lodges turn to primitive campsites. And the tourist-covered scenery becomes quiet and solitary.

This is what I love most about the south end of the park.

Canyons, rivers, waterfalls, trails, lakes and wildlife still coat the landscape. But for moments, sometimes hours at a time, it’s all mine.

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Last week, we hiked 11 miles to Shoshone Lake and didn’t encounter another soul. No one was elbowing me out of their way or stomping on my feet or standing in the frame of my photo. There were no traffic jams or tour busses or gift shops or technology. According to our supervisor, more than four millions tourists were expected to visit Yellowstone this year, but on this day, for four hours, Shoshone Lake was all ours.

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It was as if no one had ever hiked Yellowstone’s Dogshead trail before and, though I knew better, I found comfort in that seclusion. I could breath again.

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