Only Scratching the Surface

Yellowstone is big, very big.

Artists Paintpots hydrothermal area on 5/10

Artists Paintpots hydrothermal area on 5/10

In my five days here so far, I’ve come to the tentative conclusion that as a visitor, you’d really want a good seven days or so to do this park justice.

Canyon Village area on 5/12: Elevation 7,918

Canyon Village area on 5/12: Elevation 7,918

Some national parks you can catch the highlights in a day. Badlands was one, and even Zion you could if you got there early enough. Yellowstone is not one of those.

Norris Geyser Basin area

Cistern Spring – Norris Geyser Basin on 5/10

I don’t know acreage-wise how it ranks in size, but there are multiple hubs, or “villages” (usually at crossroads), and every single one I’ve been to so far has been worth a visit with it’s own educational focus, not to mention food and shopping options.

Canyon Visitor Education Center on 5/12

Canyon Visitor Education Center on 5/12

Between these hubs you can find scenic pullouts, picnic areas, one-way nature roads, hiking trails, and boardwalks, many of which aren’t even marked on the free park map you get at the entrance.

Norris Geyser Basin area on 5/10

Norris Geyser Basin on 5/10

The mountains are worth seeing.

Looking north on the road between Madison and Norris on 5/12

Looking north on the road between Norris and Canyon Village on 5/12

The rivers are worth seeing.

Gibbon River on the road between Madison and Norris on 5/10

Gibbon River on the road between Madison and Norris, 5/10

The waterfalls are worth seeing.

Gibbon Falls on 5/10

Gibbon Falls on 5/10

The canyons are worth seeing.

On top of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River on 5/10

On top of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, 5/10

The pine forests and meadows are worth seeing.

South of Norris on 5/12

South of Norris on 5/12

The wildlife is worth seeing.

Feeling surrounded on the road from Old Faithful to Madison, 5/10

Feeling surrounded on the road from Old Faithful to Madison, 5/10

And of course, the hydrothermal features are worth seeing.

Minute Geyser - Norris Geyser Basin on 5/10

Minute Geyser – Norris Geyser Basin on 5/10

There is just so much to see, it’s a bit overwhelming. I’ve taken to marking off on my map the places I’ve visited so I can keep track, and labeling my pictures so I remember where I took them.

Lower Falls - Yellowstone River on 5/10

Lower Falls – Yellowstone River on 5/10

I can see why this was America’s first national park. When surrounded by scenery like this, just sitting quietly and observing is a very moving experience. In fact, that’s what I did after I finished my first day of work yesterday.

Just south of Midway Geyser Basin on 5/13

Unmarked pullout just south of Midway Geyser Basin on 5/13

May is called a shoulder month here. Winter activities are long since over, but highs in the 40’s and 50’s are still holding the summer visitors off. I had this pullout all to myself, and got a private showing when one of the steaming vents near the creek turned out to be a geyser!

It erupts!

And I’m only scratching the surface. How wonderful it is that I’m going to have four and a half months here to delve deeper into the mysteries of Yellowstone.

Artists paintpots on 5/10

Artists paintpots on 5/10

* * *

On that note, I’d like to thank every single one of you who reads IO. For those who’ve been following me for a while, you may remember than back in the summer of 2013 I interviewed and was accepted for a position at Yellowstone. But I took a job at Badlands National Park instead because it paid the most, and at near minimum wage with no other income to depend on, money was a huge concern.

This year I’ve been able to accept a position at Yellowstone even though the money isn’t as good as other opportunities because of yourΒ support. Even those of you who aren’t interested inΒ my e-guide and don’t shop on Amazon help just by reading and commenting which makes IO more likely to show up on search engine results, and by telling your friends and online communities about this blog.

I get a lot of comments and e-mails from readers who thank me for writing IO and doing everything I do here. But the truth is, these photos and this summer wouldn’t have been possible without you. Thank you.

Black Sand Basin on 5/13

Rainbow Pool – Black Sand Basin on 5/13

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Cate on June 18, 2015 at 5:56 pm


    I’m new to your blog and just signed up for email posting. Thanks for doing this! Your photos are absolutely beautiful! Please tell me what kind of camera you have?

    I’m in the planning stages of adopting full time RVing and will be looking at your ebook when I remember to bring a credit card to the office where I have to do my email for now.

    I also would like to know more about your RV and if the size works for you.

    thanks, Cate

    • Becky on June 18, 2015 at 10:33 pm

      Hello Cate and welcome to IO!

      My camera is my iPhone 4S. I don’t use any apps to change it’s original functionality, but I do have Photoshop 6 installed on my computer that I adjust the contrast, brightness, and sharpness with.

      Thank you for considering my e-guide. I put my best effort into it and if you decide to buy, I hope you get a lot of use out of it. πŸ™‚

      For more information about my Casita:
      In short: The size works for me.

  2. Terri on May 23, 2015 at 6:39 am

    Bison in the road, that’s so awewsome!!!! I have not been to Yellowstone but would definitely love to visit. You’ll have to go to where the rock climbers go and see if you can see them through binoculars, once the weather gets better. I think it’s called Half Dome? I’m excited for you to be there this summer. I just feel this bit of “calmness” overcome me while I’m reading your posts, and I think you must feel it on your end too. That’s how you know you are writing from the heart.

    So glad you are taking this opportunity, Becky, and I have a feeling you are going to shine so brightly at this place and in your job. Thank you so much for sharing all your experiences with us.
    Terri recently posted..If you think you can’t, you won’t. So, just do it.My Profile

    • Becky on May 23, 2015 at 11:45 am

      Half dome is in Yosemite actually Terri, I do have pictures of it from my trip there last fall. πŸ™‚

      You’re very welcome and I hope your preparations for tiny house living are going well!

  3. Jeff on May 19, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    There are a few cameras that have built-in GPS so they can automatically geotag photos.

    If your camera doesn’t have built-in GPS and if you have a PC, you can get a GPS tracker like this: and use a program like this: to merge the GPS data with the photos. You have to sync the clock on the camera with the GPS tracker and the program works by tagging the photos with the GPS tracker data with the nearest timestamp. The GPS trackers can be set to record your position every few seconds so the locations should be close enough.

    However, I think you can turn on photo geotaging on the iPhone 4 by enabling Location Services, that should enable the GPS functionality. Turn it on when you want to geotag photos and turn it off to save the battery as leaving the GPS on all the time uses up the battery. Keep in mind that it takes a minute or so to get a fix. I’ve never had an iPhone so another iPhone user might have a better idea how it works.

    Yellowstone is an amazing place, and not just the thermal features! I have been over a dozen times and always discover something new each time. The crowds thin out fast the further you get away from the roads as a lot of people never get out of the parking lots!

    Be safe and enjoy your time in Yellowstone.

    • Becky on May 19, 2015 at 10:11 pm

      Very informational Jeff, thanks for sharing!

      Once I’ve procured bear spray and get a day off, I’ll be doing more hiking, Yellowstone has a lot of backcountry. πŸ™‚

  4. Lacy on May 18, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Just read about another tragic accident that happened in the park in the past few days. Can’t help but think about you! Hope all is well,

    • Lacy on May 18, 2015 at 11:49 am

      OOPS – MY BAD! This latest accident (Base Jumping) was in Yosemite, NOT YELLOWSTONE. One is enough, hope that’s the last for the summer.

      • Becky on May 18, 2015 at 9:10 pm

        There was a 16 year old gored by a Bison at Old Faithful on the 15th, she had to be flown to the hospital in a helicopter but is in stable condition last I heard. She was 3-6 feet away from the bison, when the NPS rules state visitors need to stay 25 YARDS or more away. It’s so sad, if people would only follow the rules there’d be fewer incidents like this.

  5. PeteW on May 18, 2015 at 6:00 am

    good post. I am excited for your new adventure. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to reading about what you are up to. I know that this Summer will be a memorable one for you. I envy your bravery and seeming fearlessness of being alone. Keep up the good work.

    • Becky on May 18, 2015 at 9:08 pm

      Thanks Pete and I’m glad you enjoyed this post. πŸ™‚

  6. Terry on May 17, 2015 at 9:13 am

    My last visit to Yellowstone was in 1989 after the horrific fire of 1988. It was sad to see
    the damage done to such a wondrous place, but knowing how nature works, I’m
    sure Yellowstone is restored to it’s former beauty. Becky, you are an inspiration and I
    appreciate the information you provide through this blog. I am now in the process of
    selling all my things so I too can travel on the road. Have a wonderful time in Yellowstone!

    • Becky on May 18, 2015 at 9:07 pm

      Thanks Terry! It’ll be a while yet before the pine forests in the burned areas reach maturity, but young trees are definitely in abundance.

      Congrats on your impending freedom, you must be very excited!

  7. Lacy on May 17, 2015 at 1:59 am

    FOUR + months?????? Ok, now I’m excited for you AND jealous all at the same time! You’re going to fall in love with that place and the good thing about it is we get to go along with you on the journey!!!!

    • Becky on May 18, 2015 at 9:05 pm

      Happy to have you along Lacy! I do feel very lucky. πŸ™‚

  8. Jodee Gravel on May 16, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    You have such a great opportunity to really see the park with the time you have committed there this summer! Your pics are wonderful, and I’m looking forward to more hidden treasures.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Have a Nice Weekend????My Profile

    • Becky on May 16, 2015 at 11:43 pm

      Once the weather warms up I’ll be able to get pictures of the springs and pools without the steam, colors should be even better then Jodee!

  9. Dedra on May 16, 2015 at 10:54 am

    You’re awesome!
    I wish I could have done something like that when I was young.
    I know not too late. Done a few solo.
    Beautiful pictures.
    Thank you for your blog.

    • Becky on May 16, 2015 at 11:42 pm

      You’re welcome Dedra, glad you’re enjoying IO. πŸ™‚ Keep getting out there and having fun!

  10. Tom Dunn on May 16, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Sue & I will be arriving at Colter Bay campground in a couple of weeks. We will be following your adventure in Yellowstone closely for ideas for our day trips up to Yellowstone. Although they aren’t nearly as nice as your photography, I like to take pictures with my iPhone 6 Plus because I can enable geo-tagging. It places a GPS stamp and other information into the picture file. I have an app that decodes that info and will display the picture location on a map. That’s wierd wild stuff for an old fart like me who grew up using film cameras.

    • Becky on May 16, 2015 at 11:41 pm

      All my photos I take with my 4S Tom, iPhones take pretty good pictures. πŸ™‚ Mine doesn’t have the geo-tagging thing, maybe I could get an app for it but space is limited as is. πŸ˜‰ I don’t even own a real camera, I love the portability of just using the phone.

      Colter Bay, exciting! There’s a lot to see and do in Yellowstone, you won’t get bored that’s for sure. πŸ˜‰

  11. Furry Gnome on May 16, 2015 at 7:34 am

    Dear Becky, having read your blog from the beginning, I’d say ‘You’ve made it’! After your years of goal-setting, scrimping and working so hard, a summer in Yellowstone! Looking forward to hearing about all your adventures.

    And thanks for thanking your readers. Your posts are among those I look forward to the most, ’cause you’re living your dream! You don’t have to be an RVer to be inspired by your message of ‘Follow your dreams’. It’s your readers who should thank you for the inspiration, regardless of what our dreams are.

    • Becky on May 16, 2015 at 11:37 pm

      And this is looking like a pretty awesome job as far as retail jobs go, looking forward to sharing those details with you all. We had 3-5 inches of snow fall here last night, it was glorious waking up and watching it fall out of the trees (was already above freezing by then) and take pictures of course! What a great place.

  12. Cheryl on May 15, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Always enjoy your posts and pictures. Thank you!

    • Becky on May 15, 2015 at 8:54 pm

      You’re welcome Cheryl! Thanks for commenting.

  13. Norm H. on May 15, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Like you, I visited at age 14 on a family road trip; except many years before your visit. I’m looking forward to your adventures and posts. By the way,love that you are tagging your pics! Thank you. Have a wonderful summer.

    • Becky on May 15, 2015 at 8:52 pm

      I figured that will help people who come visit Yellowstone and want to take these pictures themselves. πŸ™‚ You’re welcome Norm, you have a good summer too.

  14. Jim at Growing Faith on May 15, 2015 at 9:18 am

    It definitely sounds like a place I need to visit! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I always look forward to seeing new blog posts from you!
    Jim at Growing Faith recently posted..Give PraiseMy Profile

    • Becky on May 15, 2015 at 8:50 pm

      Yes Jim! You’re welcome, glad you’re enjoying them. πŸ™‚

  15. Janett on May 15, 2015 at 7:38 am

    As always, I’m enjoying another adventure thru IO so thank YOU! Yellowstone is definitely on my bucket list once I have more travel experience… those mountain roads are still intimidating.

    I’m anxious to hear more on your work details too along with more of those amazing pics. Great read!

    • Becky on May 15, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      If you come from the north the grade really isn’t bad, can’t say what other entrances are like. You’re welcome!

  16. Maura on May 14, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    Oh to think that we applied to work there this summer, and our travels took another turn….so beautiful and I hope your summer is awesome!
    Maura recently posted..The Lesser Roads EastMy Profile

    • Becky on May 14, 2015 at 10:59 pm

      Good thing is Maura Yellowstone hires a lot of work-campers, so there’s always next summer. πŸ™‚ Thanks!

  17. Brian and Carolyn on May 14, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    Hi Becky,

    We quietly follow your travels on your blog. Happy to see you in Yellowstone this summer.

    Maybe our paths will cross one day!

    Brian and Carolyn

    • Becky on May 14, 2015 at 10:58 pm

      Thanks for commenting, I hope we get the chance to meet in person someday soon too! I’ve got some things that could be done at Little House Customs myself. Still hoping you get that “bigger on the inside” tee-shirt back in a S or M someday, I’ll buy it if you do. πŸ™‚

  18. John L. on May 14, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    Yes, you are truly at one of the most beautiful places on earth! I have been there, looking fo rward to returning one day……until then, will enjoy it through your eyes! Thanks for sharing your journey!

    • Becky on May 14, 2015 at 9:58 pm

      You’re welcome John, thanks for following along and hope you get the chance to come back soon. πŸ™‚

  19. Andy on May 14, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    I’ve been quietly following your blog for awhile, and I really enjoyed your description of the trip to Yellowstone all the way to today’s post. I’m looking forward to your next post!
    Andy recently posted..Tillis Hill Campground–Withlacoochee State ForestMy Profile

    • Becky on May 14, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      Well, thanks for coming out of the woodwork to comment Andy! My next post will probably be more about what the Yellowstone Association is, and my job here. Unless I get more sightseeing in before then, which is real hard not to do when you live in a place like this. πŸ˜‰

      I like those forest photos on your recent blog post! I volunteered last winter (early 2014) with the University of Florida at a conservation site east of Gainesville, it’s a pretty state.

  20. J. Dawg on May 14, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Nice picture on the lower falls at The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the one of Rainbow Pool. Great colors.

    • Becky on May 14, 2015 at 9:50 pm

      The sunlight and wind was just perfect for that fine spray of mist to make a rainbow J. Dawg. It was an incredible spot that just begged for a photo, there wasn’t even any skill required. Simply amazing.

      I hear when it starts getting warmer there’s less steam on the hydrothermal features and it’s easier to photograph the colorful springs then, but I kinda like the foggy look of these pictures. πŸ™‚

  21. Contessa on May 14, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    Looking forward to sharing the summer with via the blog. So glad that it worked out for you to be there.

    • Becky on May 14, 2015 at 9:46 pm

      Glad to have you along for the ride Contessa! It’ll be a summer to remember. πŸ™‚

  22. PJ on May 14, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    My father loved the west – and Yellowstone. I was lucky enough to have visited it 14 times before I graduated from high school. In fact, I took it for granted. In adulthood I “rediscovered” it for myself and now really love visiting the park. I’m sending a link for a Yellowstone Forum where there is lots of information – and people who can answer almost any question about the park. There are several of them, but I think it is the best.

    • Becky on May 14, 2015 at 9:43 pm

      Thanks for sharing PJ, it’s such a special place. This is my second time visiting, we spent 2, maybe 3 days here when i was 14 on a family road trip.

  23. Ed @ Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets. on May 14, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    I read somewhere recently, that the average attendee’s visit to Yellowstone is an unbelievable 5 1/2 HOURS. That’s basically just passing thru. We have been there twice and, sad to say, were just passing thru. Once we perform our Great Escape, which is fast approaching, we will spend A LOT more time in the area, although likely boondocking outside the park.

    You may be thanking us, but we should be thanking you for the travelogue with photos that you provide, as well as your personal insight about things and stuff. We feel we know you, even though we have not met…yet. πŸ™‚

    • Becky on May 14, 2015 at 9:42 pm

      Yet! I’m looking forward to meeting you once you hit the road Ed, it’ll be here before you know it. πŸ™‚

      5 1/2 hours, that’s so sad. That’s like, having a plate of pie put in front of you at a restaurant and just when you pick up your fork and really start salivating, it gets taken away.

      I know some people like to boondock in the Jackson area between Yellowstone and the Tetons, I don’t know exactly where the public land is around there but it must exist and I bet a little digging will turn something up. I can see not wanting to camp in the park proper, it’s quite pricy.

      • Ed @ Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets. on May 15, 2015 at 1:58 pm

        Hi! Thanks for the reply. Actually, we’re getting familiar with boondocking spots in the Tetons area thanks to information provided from Leigh over at Aluminarium and their new site entitled Campendium. Can’t wait to try one or more of them out.

        • Becky on May 15, 2015 at 8:48 pm

          Fun Ed, enjoy!

  24. Brad on May 14, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    If someone hasn’t mentioned it, north entrance of the park right by the state border when you cross Gardner River there is a parking lot. Hike south for about a half mile or more and there is a place where Boiling River dumps into Gardner and people get in Gardner River. It’s a popular spot and about the only place to have a hot soak.

    • Becky on May 14, 2015 at 9:39 pm

      Someone mentioned it briefly in the last post Brad but didn’t give directions, so thanks. πŸ™‚ I haven’t had a chance yet to dip in a hot spring while I’ve been RVing so this will be one more thing to check off my list.

  25. Rene Kipp on May 14, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Our one-day trek through Yellowstone years ago was not even enough to scratch the surface. But we did see waterfalls, rivers, wildlife, trees, prairies and of course, Old Faithful. I am looking forward to seeing it through your eyes and stories. Enjoy! And yes, I am a little bit envious of your summer about now πŸ™‚
    Rene Kipp recently posted..It’s The Little Things…My Profile

    • Becky on May 14, 2015 at 9:36 pm

      You’ll just have to come back through again some day and spend more time Rene!

      I’m looking forward to bringing you all along on this adventure. I may not travel with anyone, but when I snap a picture I can think “Wow, my readers are going to love this!” So in a way, you all do come along with. πŸ™‚

  26. Dave Burdick on May 14, 2015 at 11:35 am

    I am not sure even a week is enough if you want to hike. We stayed in the area for 10 days back in 2012 and we can’t hike much due to my wife’s MS…and that was enough time to see everything from the car and ADA trails. I KNOW you will enjoy your stay, and beware of the large traffic jams that comes from large crowds and wandering Buffalo. πŸ™‚
    Dave Burdick recently posted..Replacing a Slide FloorMy Profile

    • Becky on May 14, 2015 at 9:34 pm

      No way you can catch everything in a week, but I think a week would give a person enough time to see the highlights. Glad you had 10 days Dave, that’s a much more reasonable amount of time than most folks who visit!

      The bison can be a hassle sometimes, but they’re awfully darn cute so I’ll forgive them for it (and admire from a distance!).

  27. BJM on May 14, 2015 at 11:11 am

    I recently stumbled onto your blog from Wheelingit. Two of your previous posts, “Road to Yellowstone” and “Into Yellowstone” read like a road trip novel. Nice prose!
    I’ve visited yellowstone many times, starting out as a kid with my family in the 50’s when a bear tore our tent in two. Now, whenever I’m in the area on one of my rock art photography trips, I make a pass through the park just for the beauty of the place. Nowhere else can you see the vivid orange colors of the hot pools with a background of dark green trees and blue sky.
    And, all the animals “ain’t” too shabby either.

    • Becky on May 14, 2015 at 9:31 pm

      Welcome to IO BJM, glad you’re enjoying it here!

      Yikes! Yes there are certain areas of the park where tent camping is not allowed. Did you have food in your tent?

      Rock art photography, that sounds interesting. How great that you get to come through more frequently. The colors really are amazing.

      • BJM on May 15, 2015 at 10:50 am

        No food in the tent; but, evidently, the tent still smelled of food.
        This was before the time of bear proof trash cans and food storage bins.

        • Becky on May 15, 2015 at 8:47 pm

          Guess yours was a learning experience for parks, glad you were okay!

  28. Ron on May 14, 2015 at 10:00 am

    To me a week would be a very short time to explore Yellowstone, we spent nearly a month exploring the area of Yellowstone & the Grand Tetons. Spending the entire season may not even be enough time. We camped at West Yellowstone, Flagg Ranch, Fishing Bridge and Gardiner. ENJOY, I doubt you will get bored for even a minute.

    • Becky on May 14, 2015 at 9:28 pm

      It’s not likely Ron.

      No, you still couldn’t see everything in a week, but you could hit all the highlights – the things tourists come to see. I’ll get a lot more in my 4.5 months, but I still doubt I’ll see it all. πŸ™‚

  29. Elizabeth on May 14, 2015 at 9:34 am

    My husband and I have been to Yellowstone once and are anxious to return. How wonderful to spend four + months! Looking forward to reading all about your adventures (and everyday life)!

    • Becky on May 14, 2015 at 9:27 pm

      I hope when you get here Elizabeth you get more than a couple days! Glad you enjoyed this post, there is certainly a lot more to come. πŸ™‚

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