Second-year student reporter Emily Burrell reflects on her amazing trip through Yellowstone National Park.

In May of this year I was fortunate enough to attend a ten-day group excursion to Yellowstone National Park. I successfully applied to the Student Opportunity Fund at Edge Hill, which helps support career-enhancing student projects.

I applied for this opportunity because, having grown up in a tourist orientated town and worked in both northern and southern tourist areas within Britain, I was intrigued to see the similarities and differences between the British tourism industry and those of an American tourism industry.  I also have a strong personal interest in conservation and living an eco-friendlier lifestyle, so the chance to experience the stunning landscapes and wildlife of Yellowstone was simply an unmissable opportunity.

Highlights

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Although the entire park is awe inspiring, the view of the waterfall and canyon was possibly one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. As we reached the viewing platform after a hike, we were met by a stunning view of the waterfall, canyon and a rainbow shimmering in the off spray from the waterfall. It was truly breath taking.

Hot Springs

Yellowstone National Park has constant geothermic activity as it is situated atop of a super volcano. As a result of this, geysers and hot springs are everywhere. Each spring was different due to the varying types of bacteria that formed in the pools but they were all equally spectacular and filled with vibrant colours. Also, the activity of these geothermic features acted as a constant reminder of nature’s power

The People

The people that attended the Yellowstone Opportunity made trip amazing, everyone clicked almost instantly. Due to the size of the park, we spent a lot of time traveling, this driving time was filled with everyone sharing music; singing out of tune and ridiculous dancing – it is one of my favourite memories of the trip. Also, after the long days we would often spend time in the evening learning and playing card games, which brought out everyone competitive sides.  This free time provided everyone with the chance to share stories. The topics ranged from swapping slang with the American students, to being educated on different British soil types and even being taught how to meditate. The Game of Thrones finale also aired while we were in Yellowstone, so around fifteen of us sat and watched the last ever episode together. Although the views of Yellowstone are utterly splendid, just as unforgettable are the people with whom I shared this opportunity.

The trip to Yellowstone connected to my studies as an English Literature student as it allowed me to engage with some of the landscapes I studied in the module Lit2057: Contemporary American Literature. The sunset one evening reminded me particularly of a quote from Brokeback Mountain: Wyoming Stories: ‘the lavender sky emptied colour and the chill air drained down’.

The spectacular Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone dates back to 1903

Furthermore, the park’s long history has given rise to many myths about Yellowstone. The Forrest Fenn Treasure, for example, is a buried treasure rumoured to be worth over $2 million and believed to be hidden somewhere inside the National Park. The location of the buried treasure is hinted at in a riddle published in Fenn’s collection of short stories, titled: The Thrill of the Chase: A Memoir.

The conservation focus of the trip will be useful to my future studies as I plan on focusing on Ecocriticism in my dissertation. I even received book recommendations on my travels, including the names of some children’s novels set in Yellowstone by an employee at the spectacular Old Faithful Inn.