Yellowstone National Park is truly enormous. There are many natural wonders to explore but they are spread far and wide and so you face a lengthy drive to each destination. This fact makes checking the weather before you set out a very good idea but this is precisely what I didn’t do on the day I wanted to visit the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
A Turn for the Worse
I was travelling by RV and the camp site was in the centre of the park leaving a significant drive to reach the canyon. The weather was perfectly OK when I set out but by the time I arrived at the parking lot snow was falling in clumps and I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face let alone a canyon and a waterfall. I was crestfallen. You can experience some strange weather in that part of the world but I wasn’t expecting snow in June!
Cold and Wet
The temperature had dropped dramatically and I had been plunged quickly into the depths of winter. I jumped out of the motorhome and walked over to what I guessed was the rim of the canyon but could see nothing at all. Felling that I had probably picked the worst day of the entire year to admire the scenery, I retreated to the RV and sat with a blanket around me for a while to warm up before making a run for the café.
A hot chocolate was in order and I downed the drink feeling rather miserable. Eventually I decided that I would have to drive back to the campsite and figure out what else to do but when I opened the door and walked outside the snow had stopped and blue sky was appearing. I was now even more confused. How could it look like the world was coming to an end one minute and then so glorious the next?
I spent the rest of the day exploring the rim of canyon and taking in the undeniably stunning views of the landscape and waterfalls. It was a truly wondrous place with plenty to admire and copious wildlife. The temperature rose quickly into the 70’s and the sun shone for the rest of the day. I walked every trail, visited every viewpoint and was grateful that the journey had not been in vain.
When I look back at the pictures that I took at the canyon I always have to laugh. Snaps of my fellow travellers with hoods up standing in a blizzard are alongside all of us basking in the sunshine wearing t shirts. It is hard to imagine that the transformation took place in under an hour!
Later that evening it snowed again and the following morning I went white water rafting on the Gallatin River in temperatures that were only marginally above freezing. The next time I book a trip to Yellowstone I will pack for both an Arctic expedition and a tropical beach because you never know what you are going to get!
Article by Sally Stacey