Yellowstone is where land and legend meet. With wonderful wildlife and luminous landscapes, it covers an area larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. Renting an RV is the best way to see it, but it is a true outdoor lovers challenge to see it all! It was the world’s first national park, holds half of the world’s geysers and the country’s largest high-altitude lake, and sits atop a giant supervolcano. Mother Nature really outdid herself with this one! Your Legendary American Road Trip should, without a doubt, include this incredible treasure.
Where to start? We love a bit of mystery- and the secrets of this natural playground are still being uncovered. There are plenty of wild and whacky little-known Yellowstone facts, and if any of these take your fancy they could be factored into your plans as you explore the park.
Until the 90s, it was widely accepted that there were around 50 waterfalls in the park- an impressive number! Then, a group of Yellowstone enthusiasts took up the challenge to visit them all and also to sniff out any that had been overlooked on the park’s maps. Paul Rubinstein, Lee Whittlesey and Mike Stevens spent a summer hunting out waterfalls in the park and got a lot more than they bargained for (source: LA Times). Between grizzly encounters and lightning, they began to uncover dozens of waterfalls- and then hundreds! By the time their quest drew to a close, they had found 280 new waterfalls and then went on to write a book about the process.
Who doesn’t love a good waterfall? Once you are parked up and settled in the park, head out on foot to explore the many cascades which are now marked on the map! You might even discover a few new ones of your own.
The park covers such a huge area that it boasts several endemic plant species- this means that they are found nowhere else on earth! Agrostic rossiae (“Ross’ Bentgrass”) and Agrostis scabra (“Tickle Grass”) both occur in the unique thermal plant communities of Yellowstone, and are not found outside of the park. Yellowstone Sulfur Buckwheat is also endemic to the park, adapted to geothermal environments and grows near the Old Faithful Inn and in the Upper Geyser Basin.
If you aren't a biologist, this may not be the most interesting of facts about Yellowstone- but keep an eye out during your time there to spot one of these niche plant species.
The scenery of Yellowstone is something to write home about, that’s for sure- but did you know that a lot of it was carved by wolves? Not with their paws but with their presence. They were reintroduced to the park in 1995 after a 70-year absence, and immediately set to work cutting down the huge deer populations. This had a huge flow-on effect- the vegetation which had been decimated by grazing deer regrew, this regenerated habitats and allowed for birds and other wildlife to increase in number. Wolves killed some of the coyotes, which meant the small prey animals were more abundant and hawks made a comeback, and eagles and bears thrived on the wolves’ carrion.
The geology of the park was also changed by the reintroduction of the wolves. Erosion was reduced as regenerating forests stabilised the banks and surrounding land, so the channels narrowed and pools formed to change the course of the rivers themselves. Enjoying the waterways of Yellowstone? Don’t forget to thank the wolves!
The Yellowstone Caldera was formed by a supervolcano that underlies the park. You’ll be glad to know that the last eruption took place 640,000 years ago, and there is very little chance of it happening again anytime soon- unless one particular Russian military analyst has anything to do with it. Konstantin Sivkov suggested in a newspaper column that Russia should, essentially, develop a nuclear weapon to drop into the caldera and force an eruption.
Thankfully, this is a very unlikely scenario, especially now that it has been published in a public newspaper. TV station KPVI spoke to a geosciences professor who says that the plan sounds more like the plot of a sci-fi movie than something which could ever happen. You needn’t worry about it during your visit to the park.
With your own home on wheels, you can delve into all of these unique aspects of Yellowstone and more. An RV makes the perfect base for your explorations, providing both a place to sleep and a way to get around- and everyone knows that when you visit a National Park, camping is the way to go! The Fishing Bridge RV Park, open during the summer months, provides full hookups, coin laundry and pay showers. Dotted throughout the park are other campgrounds with varying degrees of facilities, though none have hookups. Each campsite offers something a little different- Bridge Bay Campground is near Yellowstone Lake, the Canyon Campground has wonderful canyon views, and the central Madison Campground is a short drive from Old Faithful. We recommend a self-contained RV so you can take full advantage of the various sites to see Yellowstone in-depth.
The 2015 season has kicked off already in the park, and low gas prices mean the time is ripe for a road trip, so begin planning your Yellowstone RV rental adventure with Motorhome Republic! Nearby pick-up locations with major airports include Salt Lake City and Denver. Most roads opened in mid-April, and the ones which did not are due to open in May. The fishing season begins the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend which this year is the 23rd of May.
We highly recommend roadtripping from Las Vegas in your RV up to Yellowstone. The variety in landscapes and adventures you will have will be timeless.