Yellowstone National Park, A Land of Amazement.
When you travel to Yellowstone you expect to see incredible sights. It was after all America’s First National Park, so you know it is special. But to be truly filled with amazement, that is something really special. We experienced this amazement with the beautiful scenery, the wildlife aplenty and seeing an international corporation partnering with the park.
Last week we had the privilege to travel to Yellowstone National Park along with one of our National Park Geek Ambassadors Linda @thebucketlisttraveler to tell the story of this unique and beautiful place. We were asked to come see and tell the story of how Michelin @michelinusa has been working with the park and the non-profit association for Yellowstone, Yellowstone Forever @ynpforever since 2008 as a major corporate partner.
It All Starts At The Arch
Our journey to Yellowstone began with time at the Roosevelt Arch, the park’s entrance in the town of Gardner, MT. We arrived to find an evening of clear skies so we knew it would be prefect to do a little star gazing and watch the Milky Way arch above the park’s entrance. The Milky Way did not disappoint as the universe arched high above. We knew we had come home.
Old Faithful Is A Wonderful Sight
The next morning, we drove to meet the 6 Michelin employees from across North America that were selected to help make the park a better place for future generations. They came to help work on new sustainable pathways in the Old Faithful area. Sharing sustainable efforts has been a big part in Michelin’s partnership with the park. They have been instrumental in the use of recycled tires that come from the park's vehicles, to help build pathways at Old Faithful. The recycled tires pathways have several benefits: this new material helps reduce run-off and erosion in the eco-sensitive Yellowstone Geyser Basin by being porous, it’s non-slip and it is an ADA-compliant surface accessible to wheelchairs and walkers. It is also heat tolerant and durable with low maintenance requirements and helps to prevent broken pieces of pathways from getting thrown or kicked into the thermals. Michelin is also sharing its knowledge by working with the park on a transportation study to help reduce the traffic congestion within the park. The philanthropic efforts of Michelin continue with sustainable and technology assistance for Yellowstone Forever to help them to stay the leader in the park's conservation and education efforts.
The Michelin Man lending a hand at the worksite.
The pathways constructed my Michelin in past years in the Old Faithful area.
Parts from the existing asphalt pathways that are getting tossed in the thermals
Visiting the Old Faithful area could not be completed without some exploration of the geysers and thermals that exist due to them sitting above a super volcano that formed the area millions of years ago. Of course, we got to watch Old Faithful put on her timely show. We also got to learn about this great park with a ranger tour on Geyser Hill. (TOUR TIP: Go watch Old Faithful put on her show from Geyser Hill. Seeing it in perspective and without the crowds makes this a great viewpoint.) After saying our hellos to the Michelin Man, we went to explore Grand Prismatic with her colors that amazed our eyes. Along the way, we were greeted by bison and elk.
"However orderly your excursions or aimless, again and again amid the calmest, stillest scenery you will be brought to a standstill hushed and awe-stricken before phenomena wholly new to you. Boiling springs and huge deep pools of purest green and azure water, thousands of them, are plashing and heaving in these high, cool mountains as if a fierce furnace fire were burning beneath each one of them; and a hundred geysers, white torrents of boiling water and steam, like inverted waterfalls, are ever and anon rushing up out of the hot, black underworld." John Muir
The sights, sounds and freedom found in Yellowstone make every turn in the road a new adventure. Your eyes jump from one incredible sight to the next without control. The amazement of it all is like living with an adrenaline rush 24/7.
Wildlife Running Free
The next day, it was early to rise to go see wildlife with Yellowstone Forever. We headed out to the Lamar Valley on our adventure. We got to experience an early season snowstorm which made for an incredible experience to watch bison, pronghorn and elk wonder this pristine valley. In the Lamar, herds of bison wondered free, walking and grazing as the soft flaky snow fell from the dramatic grey sky. At one point, along a side road, a herd of several hundred bisons surrounded us on their journey. The feeling of power from these proud animals amazed us all. To be within the herd, to feel the ground shake and hear their breaths will be one of those moments never forgotten. We observed bears climbing trees, pronghorn dancing over the valley, mule deer crossing a river and a moose grazing within a grove of willow trees. On our return to the Mammoth Hot Springs area, we observed elk feeding on the green grasses below the hot spring terraces. We saw two male elk bugling and posturing for a herd of females. The trill of hearing them make their Fall calls is something amazing. (TOUR TIP: Take a wildlife tour with the good folks at Yellowstone Forever. It was one of the best National Park experiences we have ever had.) This was the best wildlife observing adventure in one of the most pristine valleys in the park that you could ever imagine.
While driving through the park we were told of the story of how Michelin helps provide more than 1,400 tires for the fleet of over 800 park cars, trucks, snow plows and large earthmoving vehicles annually. These tires are the latest in green technology versions that decrease fuel consumption and save the park real money that can then be utilized for other efforts. This alone constitutes a donation of about $300,000 worth of tires and maintenance expertise to Yellowstone each year. It was great to learn of how Michelin generally cares about the future of this great park.
The Beauty of the Morning
Rising to watch the sunrise over Swan Lake during the continued snow showers was an awesome way to start the day. The brisk cold air let you know that winter is not far away in this land of bison and geysers. We observed trumpeter swans fly in and land on the lake, wolves roaming the hills above for a brief moment and the sun rising between clouds of snowy flakes. We gazed upon the Sheepeater Cliffs, a series of exposed cliffs made up of columnar basalt similar to those found at Devils Postpile National Monument in California, which further shows off the volcanic activity that formed the park. We watched as water flowed from the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces full of steam and calcium carbonate minerals that continue to build the terraces at a rate of two tons daily. The experience is overwhelming and will fill your memories and dreams.
The Michelin team was hampered by the snow in the park so they were not able to complete the new pathway this week. Instead, they helped to work on boardwalks in the Mammoth Hot Spring area. The pathway is now set to be completed the first part of October, weather permitting. So, on your next visit to the Old Faithful area, take notice of those black swishy pathways, those are recycled tires you are walk upon. Thinking globally and acting locally will be more important in the future than ever before.
We wish to personally thank Michelin, Yellowstone Forever and the staff at Yellowstone National Park for allowing us to tell this unique story of joint cooperation. Together, we can all make the world a better place through a shared love for the environment and sustainable initiatives.
When you truly experience Yellowstone, you experience and understand the beauty of this land and the wildlife that live upon it. To experience the beauty of this National Park and the people that work to protect it for future generations, you see exactly why these places need our continued support. Experiencing Yellowstone will change your outlook on life and your place in it. Yellowstone will make you a better person and leave you with a desire to do more, to share and cherish these special places that we call National Parks.
Learn more about Yellowstone Forever and the wonderful educational tours they have available at this link.