I have been at Yellowstone now for a few weeks and that one question has been bugging me. Why do so many folks keep coming back here to work during the summer? I look around me at work and realize that the vast majority of people that I have met are "returnees"...some have worked here for over 10 years and expect to keep coming back. Now I know the $7.25/hour can't be the big draw. And the work itself is just like working in a store in a big city (i.e. nothing special). The food has been great, but again, I don't think people come here for the EDR food (I have heard that in past years it was terrible). So what's the big deal?
Last Monday I got my answer. I was driving back to the park from Cody Wyoming after spending the day at the Buffalo Bill Museum (a MUST SEE if you are ever in Cody BTW). I decided to take the long way back via the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway and the NE Entrance to the Park. What a spectacular drive! The scenery was spellbinding....especially with evening thunderstorms adding an extra flare to the mountain landscapes and vistas. I came to Cooke City to find a sleepy mountain town (with dogs sleeping on the road through town in fact!) and finally the NE entrance to Yellowstone. It seems as soon as I passed the park boundary the wildlife began appearing around every corner. A mule deer here, an Elk there. A lone Buffalo wandering along the roadway. Birds of every description. Then I entered the Lamar Valley...OMG. I saw herds of HUNDREDS of Buffalo. I had no idea such a sight still existed in America. It just overwhelmed me what a special and unique place this is. As I approached Roosevelt junction I stopped for an official Yellowstone Bear Jam....what fun! A black bear was goofing around about 25 yards off the highway and there was a ton of people enjoying the show (including me!). The park ranger was there also making sure the people and bear were kept separate and safe. On to Tower Falls....where there had just been a rain shower. I came upon the most vivid, spectacular complete rainbow I have ever seen in my life....it was simply stunning! It arched the Valley from one side to the other, and stood out boldly against the dark storm clouds. I continued my drive...but by now I knew why people keep coming back here year after year. Wonderland.