Almost twenty years ago, I came west from the humid Illinois city streets and flat corn fields to work in Yellowstone National Park. Following in my Aunt’s footsteps, I wanted to be a park employee. I worked at the hotel at Canyon Village with places like Inspiration Point, Lower Falls and Lily Lake literally in my back yard. While I worked in the park, I fell in love with Yellowstone, the West, the tourism industry and the wrong guy (but that is a topic for another blog).
Following my dream, I moved to Montana as soon as I graduated from college and I have since made the community of Helena, Montana my own. A couple of weeks ago, I attended a conference in Texas and reunited with one of my very good Yellowstone friends. She’s one of those friends who, no matter how much time has passed, you start talking to her and it feels like you’ve never missed a beat. After visiting with her, I realized that it had literally been years since I was in the Park. And, Yellowstone is only about four hours away!
So, my husband and I took the kiddos to Yellowstone. He had forgotten about the RVs traveling at 20 mph and the bison jams as we slowly made our way toward Old Faithful. And, I had honestly forgotten about the crowds. Being a Montana girl now, I’m not used to being in crowds and my kids certainly aren’t either. But, watching Old Faithful erupt right on schedule, it didn’t matter that I was watching with a few hundred people. It still gave me goose bumps.
As crowded as the park is, there’s still a chance to find peace along a trail. I think the statistics back twenty years ago were something like only 10% of visitors to the park travel more than a half mile from the main roads. But, there’s also another option – in Helena you’ll have a great experience without the jammed back parking lots and long lines for the rest room. Helena doesn’t have geysers, bison or bubbling mud, but we do have limitless trails, beautiful mountains and breathtaking skies.
Come west, discover awesome Yellowstone and then come a little further to Helena where we will treat you to the beauty of the Rocky Mountains with a great trail system, art galleries and museums, gold rush history, great local restaurants, breweries and a distillery. Oh, yeah, and not so much sulfur in the air here in Montana’s capital.
Here’s some more info on the most scenic route from Yellowstone to Helena: https://www.helenamt.com//halfway-between-glacier-and-yellowstone/
Safe travels! Heidi O’Brien