Slow-moving bison are the #1 cause of traffic holdups during summer in Yellowstone, leading to jams that can last for hours.
Yellowstone – Fact Check

In wilderness' name, get off those roads!

Photo by Guoqiang Xue

Yellowstone – Fact Check In wilderness' name, get off those roads!

As I drive around Yellowstone, from Yellowstone Lake to Mammoth Springs, I see a herd of bison grazing out on the Hayden Valley.

Graeme Green
Graeme Green Travel Writer

A short distance from the road, a gray wolf pounces on some unfortunate little creature in the long grass. A baby bear in the trees close to the road munches of plants. It is possible to see wildlife and nature up close here.

I wonder what Buffalo Bill, the Indian tribes or early visitors would make of the park today. A sign at the northern entrance, on the Roosevelt Arch, reads: “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” The problem with making a place accessible to everybody is that “everybody” is a lot of people.

Yellowstone, like Zion or Yosemite National Parks, seems to be buckling under the weight of its own success. Roads are busy with cars and RVs. Tourists roll out of buses to viewpoints, like Artist Point or Sulfur Cauldron, then back to the bus. Bison are so used to traffic they saunter slowly through the roads. If a wolf or bear is spotted, it is quickly surrounded by dozens of tourist vehicles, like a lion on the Masai Mara. Moose laze on the greens outside buildings in the village of Mammoth Springs, protected from photo- hungry tourists by park rangers.

It does not feel very wild. And I am shocked to hear that more than 96 per cent of visitors never leave the road system or head out on the hiking trails. “I really would suggest people get off the roads,” says Jeff Brown, Executive Director of the Yellowstone Association, the park’s non-profit education partner. “It’s quite wild, just a few hundred yards off the road. You get a sense of wilderness, of solitude, of not being at the top of the food chain. That’s electrifying, to be out in country that has big grizzly bears, seeing the Old West how people would’ve experienced it.”

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The Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin is the largest hot spring in Yellowstone. The bands of vivid color are colonies of pigmented microbes that can tolerate extreme temperature ranges. Photo by Peter Adams

Peter Adams

Peter Adams

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Aperture
ƒ/11
Exposure
1/1000
ISO
500
Focal
105 mm

The Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin is the largest hot spring in Yellowstone. The bands of vivid color are colonies of pigmented microbes that can tolerate extreme temperature ranges.

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