Yellowstone National Park
If you are not concerned that at any moment you could be blown off planet earth into outer space then Yellowstone National Park is a must see. The geysers, the steam, the barren beauty and the awesome accessibility will be an experience you will not soon forget. Because the geysers are so sensitive to any change in their environment park services has built an elevated wooden boardwalk throughout all the geyser basin areas. These wooden boardwalks are plenty wide to accommodate wheelchairs, scooters, baby strollers and the many visitors as you pass each other along the walk. The information I am providing here was collected during our first and, as of the writing, our only visit. We wanted experience the beauty of early spring, the new births of Bison, Elk, Moose, Cub Bears and other so we planned the trip for the week of May 17, 2010. Unfortunately winters snowfall meant the east side of the park was still closed giving us good reason to return another time in early summer.
Since this was our first visit we decided to stay in the Old Faithful Inn which is the oldest hotel in the park and is constructed largely of lodgepole pines and rhyolite stone. The Inn also has a large outside patio with several rows of benches for a birds eye view as Old Faithful Geyser erupts every 91 minutes, give or take a minute or two. There are however numerous hotels, cottages and even cabins to call home during your visit and they are all a short drive to the next geyser. If you are interested you can download the 2014 Yellowstone Trip Planner. As I mentioned earlier we only experienced the west side of Yellowstone, but the places we were able to go, the photo opportunities and all that we experienced, we missed out on very little.
If you only have a few days to spend in Yellowstone you will want to experience the Upper Geyser Basin walk. There are several trailheads that lead into the basin. My favorite is over the Firehole River bridge which is in front of the Old Faithful Lodge, not to be confused with the Old Faithful Inn. I consider the Upper Geyser Basin nearly a full days excursion, so take lots of snacks and plenty of your favorite beverage. If you take the entire boardwalk you will find yourself on Loop Trail Road. If you are a photographer don’t forget your tripod, a medium zoom lens, a remote, or intervalometer and your favorite filters. I brought with me a 70-200mm and a 24-105mm, but for the majority of my shots I found the 24-105mm to be my most used. I also packed my Singh-Ray Vari-ND 2 to 8-stop filter, but found very little use for it. I did however use my Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo for many of my shots. It both warmed the colors and provided polarization for the sky on those sunny days and reduced glare and specular highlights in the pools. Here are a few shots of what you can expect to see and photograph along the Upper Geyser Basin Boardwalk. Also, as you can see in the photos the boardwalk does not have handrails to compromise the experience. No handrails meant I could setup my tripod low to the ground or eye level without a visual handicap. I give park services big kudos’s for that. You will however have to deal with handrails around some of the popular viewing areas, even so the handrails are well under four feet high. You can expect to experience this type of boardwalk though the park, meaning great accessibility for wheelchairs, scooters and walkers. A few of the geysers like Mammoth Hot Springs near the north entrance that has a multi-level boardwalk with lots of steps. But even as a wheelchair user you can experience and photograph the essence of the Hot Springs.