When we were on our 5,800-mile, 13-state Western road trip last year, one of the biggest expenses we incurred—gas aside—was park admission. It’s not cheap if you’re visiting a different place every other day. Which is why National Park Week is such a genius idea; from April 21 to 29, all of the 397 U.S. parks are free of charge.
We visited Yellowstone last June, though judging from these photos, it might as well have been January for as much snow as still stood on the ground. 2011 was a wacky year as far as weather was concerned; our campsite at Canyon Village was flanked by 10-foot-high banks of ice and the park entrances via Beartooth Highway and Sylvan pass were still closed—and it was the first official week of “summer,” too!
Yellowstone Lake itself was a funny sight: Some parts were completely melted, while other parts were entirely frozen.
The resident bison didn’t seem to mind the drastic temperature changes. They continued to do their thing (i.e. pose like an American icon while chomping on grass).
According to the National Park Service, Yellowstone Lake covers 132 square miles and is the largest freshwater lake in North America above 7,000 feet.
It’s beautiful no matter when you go, in the height of summer or dead of winter—but since it’s free this entire next week, what are you waiting for?