The photos may convey an untamed wilderness, but that’s not really the case – at least in these spots. On the Fourth of July, hoards of people descended upon Yellowstone’s lodges, its sprawling parking lots, its shops. With our car packed full to the windows with the last items of our prolonged cross-country move, we navigated our way through the park, winding around RVs, trying to see what we could, while we were there.

I can’t begrudge the other people, who were doing something similar to what we were – though I will project negative energies at those who strolled off the walkway in places clearly labeled Sensitive Ground, Stay on the Trail. A national park is a funny thing. Wilderness preserved and displayed in this way doesn’t seem so wild. But I know it’s there – it’s just off the road. With more time and no moving duties to attend to, I’ll return.

And crowds or no, the geysers and mud pots were pretty damn cool.

Tetons from YellowstoneOld FaithfulRiver and SteamDead TreesColored EarthSpitting GeyserTree ReflectionTrees and PoolGrand Prismatic SpringBuffaloYellowstone Grand Canyon