This year has been different for everyone, including those hoping for their first chance into the wilds of Yellowstone. For the first year in memory, the park was completely closed to traffic at all …
This year has been different for everyone, including those hoping for their first chance into the wilds of Yellowstone. For the first year in memory, the park was completely closed to traffic at all entrances at once, and then opened only two entrances at relatively the same time (the East and South).
Schools are shut down and I, as a full-time waitress in Cody, am on leave and out of work. My children are online schooling and I am trying to prioritize essentials like everyone else.
However, I decided to take my coin jar savings from waitressing, and make it a memory in Yellowstone with all of my girls. Last year I took my youngest, Grace, to Yellowstone on opening day and we were first through the East Gate. My older two girls were bummed they could not take off school last year, so this was the year we could finally enjoy opening day together!
Camping is NOT allowed at the gate before opening day, so we stayed beyond the Shoshone National Forest line the night before. We arrived at the gate well before sunrise, and I was surprised to not see any other vehicles in line!
The morning at the gate with my girls was really cool. At 7 a.m., we watched a young moose cross in front of us and head to the river. Then we used the bathroom facilities and as we made our way back to the car, we were accompanied by a porcupine that waddled along the opposite side of the road.
The girls got to take the Junior Ranger Pledge and received pins from an awesome ranger, Brian Perry.
We munched on apples for breakfast and watched the line of cars grow out of sight behind us. We were expecting the gate to open at noon, but to everyone’s surprise they opened two hours early! The excitement was building!
Ranger Kimberly Kane opened the gates for the first vehicles.
When the gate opened, I pulled up and was told, “This day is free, enjoy the park and be safe!”
We arrived at our first destination, Grand Prismatic Hot Springs. We walked the entire boardwalk ... alone. No one — not ONE person.
Never in my life — every year for 20 years visiting Yellowstone — have I ever been ALONE, at Grand Prismatic. It was beyond epic.
A helicopter circled us three times as we all waved and they waved back. What I would do to get ahold of some of their pictures of my girls and I!
We wandered the park for hours, at barely the minimum speed of 45 and mostly meandering at 25 mph. Throughout the day, we only pulled over twice to let faster traffic through — it seemed we nearly had the park to ourselves! No lines of tourists, no buses, hardly any traffic, no crowds or bear jams! (Even though we stopped for over 10 minutes to observe five bears that day!)
We stopped here, we stopped there, again, alone in the park and able to explore uninhibited. It was absolutely amazing.
(Stacy Boisseau has lived in Powell for 20 years, originally moving here from Bethlehem, New Hampshire. Boisseau is the mother of three daughters: 18-year-old Kiya McIntosh — who graduated from Powell High School on Sunday — Hailey McIntosh, 13, and Grace McIntosh, 8.)