By Michael Lanza
My goal that first day in our first national park: hike the North Rim Trail in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. I walked along the brink of the canyon rim, looking down a thousand feet at the river’s whitewater, and stood at the lip of 308-foot-tall Lower Yellowstone Falls. Before that autumn visit was over, I dayhiked to a grand, 360-degree view of Yellowstone from the top of 10,243-foot Mount Washburn and saw a herd of elk and four black bears (the latter from the safety of my car). I hiked at dawn around Mammoth Hot Springs, serenaded by the bugling of a bull elk, and solo into the magnificent silence of the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone River. And I capped it off with an entirely unplanned event: getting stuck in a classic Yellowstone “bison jam.”
Fall is, in many ways, the ideal time to visit Yellowstone. Especially by late September and October, you’ll see far fewer people than in summer, while days are often crisp and sunny. Aspen leaves blaze bright yellow in Mammoth Hot Springs and the Lamar Valley, while ground vegetation takes on more-subtle colors. Steam billows mystically from the hot springs at Mammoth. You may hear an elk bugling—Mammoth on fall mornings and evenings is famous for that—spot wolves in the Lamar Valley and bears in the valleys or around Dunraven Pass, or hook some trout on the rivers.
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Check out the photo gallery below from my autumn visit to Yellowstone.
Then see all of my stories about Yellowstone National Park, including “Video: A Yellowstone Bison Jam,” “Ask Me: The Ultimate Family Tour of Yellowstone,” “Ask Me: The 10 Best Short Hikes in Yellowstone,” “Ask Me: Which Multi-Day Wilderness Trip Should We Take in Yellowstone?”, plus my story about an under-appreciated season in our first national park, “Cross-Country Skiing Yellowstone.”
And see all of my stories about national park adventures at The Big Outside.
Do you like The Big Outside? I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by a USA Today Readers Choice poll and others. Subscribe for updates about new stories and free gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of this story, at the top of the left sidebar, or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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