Yellowstone was the first designated national park in the United States and remains one of the most popular.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve associated Yellowstone National Park with Yogi Bear. I can’t help it—I was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon junkie and a sucker for any show that featured animals.
As most of you will know, Yogi’s fictional home Jellystone Park was a take off on Yellowstone, and the name and connection are etched in the memories of millions of kids who grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Many begged their parents to take them to the park in the hope of seeing not only a real-life Yogi, but also that famously dependable geyser, Old Faithful.
Even for kids who aren’t familiar with the classic cartoon, Yellowstone holds a special allure, perhaps because it was the first national park, established in 1872, and one that touches three states: Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Or more likely because it’s a place where you can now see buffalo, wolves, bears, elk and other wildlife creatures in their beautiful natural habitat, thanks to reintroduction and animal protection practices and policies.
Nature though can also sometimes be dangerous. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the devastating wildfires that hit Yellowstone in 1988 and burned 36 percent of its parkland, reminding us that nature also is quite fragile. While I write this, another fire is burning, albeit one much smaller in scope. It currently is not affecting the public areas of the park, and hopefully will remain contained.
Our Yellowstone writer Lynn O’Rourke Hayes understands both the beauty and risks of forested areas. She has a second home in Montana and visits nearby national parks frequently. In this issue she writes about Yellowstone’s natural wonders, lodging and restaurants, camping options, and learning programs with naturalist guides. Also be sure to check out our Yellowstone book review by Sue Fliess, who included a book for the little ones.
Whether your wilderness adventure is in Yellowstone or elsewhere, we continue the outdoor coverage with a review of nontoxic bug sprays in our Products column, Amy Hatch’s Back Page article on camping with kids, and a feature on adventure outfitters.
In the rest of our new coverage, travel to the Mayan ruins of Copán in Jill Robinson’s Offbeat article, take a New England road trip, learn about Paris’ art spots, find out where to buy travel insurance in part three of our insurance tips series, and check our our deals in and around U.S. National Parks.
I’ll be continuing my Beijing adventures this week in China. You can read about them at TravelMusings and on our TravelMuse Twitter account. When I return, we’ll feature the family-friendly destination Branson.
Donna M. Airoldi
Destinations: Yellowstone National Park