I had an opportunity recently to visit Yellowstone National Park for the first time. Well, I went once when I was a young child, but I don’t really remember anything from that trip. My wife and kids had never been at all, so it was a new experience for us all.
The drive from our house (in the Salt Lake City, Utah, metro area) to our campsite near West Yellowstone, Montana, is a four-and-a-half hour trek according to Google Maps. It managed to take us nearly seven hours to get there with all of the stops we made (food, gas, restrooms and a crying baby).
Although we stayed two nights, we only had one day in the National Park. People advised me that two days is kind of a minimum for a Yellowstone visit. While that is certainly good advice, one day is all that I could dedicate, so one day is all we had.
This trip had been planned for a few months. We purposely chose to visit in September because several people noted that the crowds are smaller, the weather typically decent and the wildlife plentiful at this time of year. I don’t know if any of that proved to be true.
We arrived in Yellowstone National Park in the morning. We were greeted by a line of cars also trying to get in. We discovered that, even though this was technically the off-season and not a weekend, it can still get quite crowded inside the park.
The original plan was to stay on the west side of Yellowstone and really take our time exploring the geothermal sites. However, it was a rainy and cold-ish day, so we had to scrap our plans. Thankfully we downloaded an app called GyPSy Guide to Yellowstone National Park, which cost a few bucks but was completely worth it. It really helped us figure out where to go and what to see, and made the car ride more entertaining and educational.
We ended up driving all the way around the South Loop. It rained pretty heavy at times, and sprinkled the whole day. Due to the elements, we couldn’t spend very much time outdoors and didn’t go very far down any trail. We would have seen a lot more if the weather was better. Heck, we didn’t see hardly any wildlife at all.
This wasn’t a photography trip. This was a family getaway. The only camera gear that I brought with me was a Fujifilm X100F. The conditions weren’t great. If I had more time I would have at least carried a tripod with me. I was mostly shooting at high-ISOs. Because I didn’t venture very far down any path, I relied on the Digital Teleconverter a lot instead of zooming with my feet.
If this had been primarily a photography trip, I would have been somewhat displeased with the images captured (there are a few good ones). Since photography wasn’t the main objective–simply the icing on the cake–I’m happy with what I came away with.
These photographs are all out-of-camera JPEGs. I used Classic Chrome for most, and Velvia for a few. Check out Part 2, which features black-and-white images, plus some more details of the trip. Enjoy!