Yellowstone National Park
Day 12


So I decided I would do Twelve Days, Twelve Favorite Places for the twelve days of the Holidays. Going through my list of everywhere I have been in my life, I narrowed it down to 12 that I not only would go back to, but are my all time favorites. This list of course is always changing, but I hope it inspires some people to check out these amazing places. Also I would love to hear about anyone else’s favorite places.




From the first memories from when I was 4 years old looking out the window of our family van at a herd of bison, completely surrounding us. We were one with the herd, and then to my shock and fear, bicyclist were riding through the herd. Crazy, stupid, and brave. On that same trip near Old Faithful, shortly after it’s daily eruption from the ground, a ranger asked me if I wanted to make a geyser. He then reached in to one of the numerous streams of steamy water left over from the eruption, put both palms together, and submerged them in the water. Quickly squeezing his palms together, water squirted out just like Old Faithful. I was shocked and awestruck, how did his hands not melt from the heat. I submerged my hands it and made my own eruptions, which began my love affair with Yellow Stone National park, America’s first and still best national park out there.

This video doesn’t exist

Copyright Michael Bencik 2010

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Thirty-six years later and I still am in love with it. Yvonne and I camped out in the woods for a week to see if we could survive in  tent together, a great test for new relationships. Though we would have to take three in the morning bathroom runs for fear of bears together, we thrived in the rugged land. The magic had not changed at all, I was still nervous around the all the geysers and hot springs. The very fact that the ground could open up and boil us alive, while smelling like rotten eggs is still a very scary thought to me. When it was revealed that the entire Yellowstone basin is actually an active Volcanic Caldera, and that if it ever decides to erupt again would wipe out the entire United States came as no surprise to me. The park is 3,472 miles big, or 54 by 63 Air Miles Square. In one given year the park will get up to 3 million visitors, but don’t worry about it feeling crowded, because there are so many spots you will be the only person there.


Wolf, In the grass. First time ever, Copyright Michael Bencik 2010


Wolf, Near the water. First time ever, Copyright Michael Bencik 2010

Did I mention Wolves, oh yeah. After 36 years of hoping to see a wild wolf, I finally got my chance. Wild wolves were released in Yellowstone in 1995, and helped restore the entire ecosystem. For the first time in close to a 100 years, nature was back in balance. And I was lucky enough to see them doing their thing in the wild. One of the more dangerous animals in Yellowstone though are the grizzly bears, but there are black bears too. The week Yvonne and I went, a person was killed by bear the week before and the week after we were there. Ironically there had been no bear attacks in decades, so why they decided to go on the offensive when we were staying in flimsy tent I have no idea. Then there are so many other cool animals, like bison, elk, deer, foxes, coyotes, eagles, and more. This is by far the best National Park in the United States, if not the world.

The Eleventh Day will be a bit more tropical.


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