Mike Chowla
Western USA:

Yellowstone National Park

Eight years had elapsed since my last visit to Yellowstone. I was surprised by how much Yellowstone changed in those 8 years. The great fire of 1988 had left the park feeling more open and less forested even when I was there in 2006. In 2014, the trees are have grown back to the point where the feeling of being in the forest predominates. The other big change is the elk population has fallen as wolf population has grown.

Although there were some changes, overall Yellowstone is just as remarkable and unique as the last time saw it. This time I was fortunate to see a wolf eating an elk at close distance. Wolfs are reclusive and when I'd seen then in the past, they were far away and could only be observed through a spotting scope. Even more surprising, that sighting was during the middle of the day when animals are rarely seen. Yellowstone has the highest density of thermal features of anywhere on Earth. Old Faithful Geyser is the most famous and gets an incredible number of spectators. The most impressive one is the Grand Prismatic Spring with its rainbow rings. The best view of that one requires scrambling up the side of a steep hill over fallen trees but the view is well worth it.