Yellowstone National Park-a True Treasure and an Unforgettable Experience by Annie Sliman

Everyone has things in life that they’re determined to do during their time. To some people, it’s a bucket list while others just call it the back nine. For my husband and me, on the top of our list was a trip to Yellowstone National Park. For years, we talked about it. Finally, we decided it was time to actually visit our nations’ oldest national park. As it turned out, it was the most glorious one-week vacation ever.

Yellowstone truly is one of nature’s finest places. The easiest way to get there is flying into Bozeman, Montana. Once there, we stayed about 35 miles outside the park in a renovated schoolhouse above Old Chico Hot Springs Resort. The School House is owned and operated by Sarah Muller, a long-time resident and former Yellowstone national park employee.

Snow-capped mountains, lush trees and fields of wildflowers surrounded our rustic little schoolhouse right next to a river.  The schoolhouse cabin is a perfect alternative to staying in a hotel. It was fully equipped, with a kitchen, king-sized bed and one very spacious bathroom. It’s set up with all the amenities you’d need for a vacation. The school cabin is also loaded with history. It comes complete with interesting books and old school accessories.  If you want to know more, please visit

While we were there, we spent every day exploring this vast region of wildness and wonder.  We were in awe of all the beautiful rivers, geysers, hot springs and especially, Old Faithful. The Yellowstone Lake, which is the largest in the park, is so clean and pristine that it took our breath away. We enjoyed hiking the Storm Loop along the lake and in and out of the forest. When you go, you’ll be amazed at the abundant streams, mountains, waterfalls and forests. As my husband commented, around every corner and around every loop, the scenery is more beautiful than the one before.

Naturally, we were on a mission to see as many bears, wolves, elk, deer, bison and every other furry animal we could identify.  Black bears and grizzly bears were the highlight in addition to one very fast-paced wolf. We were able to be up close and personal with all this wildlife. Our cell phones took decent enough photos of all these beautiful creatures and their surroundings. The elk, antelope and buffalo are the largest population in the park, so we have many photos of them. To really tell you about the incredible wildlife in Yellowstone, I would need more than this page and a much better camera!

Our National Park Service has made it so easy for anyone, young or old, to take in the entire park. It’s simple to stop at pullouts throughout the park to see the breathtaking views and take photographs. There are numerous hiking trails, from moderate to strenuous, all clearly outlined on signs and maps. On our first day, we met a man who suggested we take the five-mile hike called Beaver Trail Ponds near Mammoth Hot Springs. We did just that a couple of days later. It was beautiful and filled with wildflowers and one dashing deer, which ran right in front of my husband. For us, this was an unforgettable moment and memory. I have to keep telling him I saved his very life!

On a practical level, the park offers amenities like restaurants, hotel lodging and many campsites, all strategically placed for convenience. The restaurants and general stores offer a variety of food, drinks and gifts. While you’re there, be sure to try the famous huckleberry drinks, which are yummy. Of course, the Montana beer is especially worth tasting. I’d recommend daily, after your long hikes!

I was also pleased to see how manageable the traffic and park crowds actually were. We were stopped a couple of times, usually because people were taking photos. For example, we saw a black bear feasting on a young bison about 200 yards away from us.  Several photographers, equipped with high-tech cameras, spent hours just watching and clicking away.

This year, the National Park Service is celebrating its 100th birthday.  In the bookstore, we purchased the commemorative book, “59 Illustrated National Parks:

100th Anniversary of the National Park System.” The award-winning Anderson Design Group illustrated this excellent book, which features original vintage poster art.

Visit to buy a copy.

Altogether, we spent six glorious days in Yellowstone. On our last day, we made a visit to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. My one and only photo large enough to reproduce is here. The lower and upper falls captivated us for hours. If Yellowstone National Park is on your list, we’d recommend going for it. Remember to carry bear spray at all times and always bottled water! After our great experience, we plan to visit all of our national parks. We Americans are blessed to have 59 national parks to call our own. Go and enjoy them!