Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons: The Need for Wildness

Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks are two of my favorite places on earth. I’ve spent many summers there, camping and hiking and visiting my daughter, who was a park ranger in Yellowstone for several summers, then a geologist in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Going to Yellowstone every summer was like going to church, meeting God everywhere you turned. Even though it’s one of the most visited national parks in the nation, once you leave the main road you truly are in a wild, untamed place.

Being there, to me at least, is like returning to sanity. Things make sense and the world is as it should be. When life back home becomes crazy with busyness and stress, I close my eyes and turn my thoughts to Yellowstone. Just knowing it’s there is enough.

Tibetans say that Mount Meru is the center of the universe; in my world, the center is Yellowstone.

We need the wild for renewal.


We need the wild to remind us who we are.

Sepulcher Moutain, Yellowstone

We need the wild to keep us from getting lost.

Bison Cows and Calves

We need the wild to keep us humble.

Bison Swimming Across the Yellowstone River

We need the wild to remind us what is real.

Dissipating Rain in Yellowstone

We need the wild to take our breath away.

Yellowstone Lake

We need the wild to show us what we’re most afraid of.

Grizzly Bear

We need the wild as a guide, showing us we don’t need anything more than we already have.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

We need the wild to show us the way to stillness.

Alkaline Ridge, Wyoming

We need the wild to remind us that life goes on without us.



  1. A Wanderer

    I can not agree with you more! One of my favorite quotes is Edward Abbey’s “We can not have freedom without wilderness.” The landscapes of Wyoming and Montana are awe inspiring. One of my favorite photographer’s, Thomas Mangelson has an art gallery in Jackson that I love to visit because he seems to capture the wilderness there with breathtaking clarity. I do love your pics though (especially the bison ones) and your statements really resonate with me. I especially like:

    We need the wild for renewal.
    We need the wild to keep us humble.
    We need the wild as a guide, showing us we don’t need anything more than we already have.
    We need the wild to remind us that life goes on without us.

    Thank you for sharing these!

    • Mind Margins

      So nice to have a kindred spirit! The bison crossing the Yellowstone River was one of the most unforgettable things I’ve ever witnessed. We had spent the entire day on a 13 mile hike to the top of Sepulcher Mtn and were bone tired heading back to our campground. We were miffed at the buffalo and traffic at first, since it was getting late–until we realized what was going on it. It was spectacular to see, but even better was to hear the sounds of the mother buffaloes calling their calves as they swam across the river, and the calves calling back. That entire day I kept thinking that it didn’t matter what insane things people did to each other on the rest of the planet, as long as Yellowstone existed the world would be okay.

      I didn’t get to visit Yellowstone, WY, or MT this summer, and I really miss the west. I think it’s my true home.

  2. skippingstones

    Very nice post and wonderful photos. I have that feeling in an untamed place, as well – that God is all around me. And truly, being in a place like that is the only time when I can feel him go through me and permeate my soul. It’s like the stars, somehow; I have a hard time seeing them in the city – too much reflection off of the atmosphere. In a wild place, the filter is removed and I can experience his presence without the outside interference.

    When I am in a magical place like that, I feel a kind of pull in my soul, a sense of belonging and a longing to stay there. It’s like being called home after a long, hard journey. I don’t know if that’s the ancient DNA in my bones, telling me that I belong out there in the open instead of locked up in rooms all of my life, or if it’s God calling my name.

    • Mind Margins

      I feel exactly the same way when looking at the stars outside the city. It’s so incredibly humbling to be confronted with all that mystery and not knowing what’s really out there in the great universe. I think if everyone spent some time in wild places we would have a lot more sane people in the world–and a lot less problems!

  3. Nick

    Mmm, brings back memories of my first trip to Yellowstone and the Tetons when I was a teenager. I flew to Oregon, drove with my uncle to Yellowston and fly-fished along the way (something I had never done). We met up with parents, sister and most of my extended family in Yellowstone. That trip inspired me to work in Yosemite for a summer and to see as many national parks as I could. I aim to see them all, if possible!

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