City Girl Meets Yellowstone: A New Yorker’s Whimsical Journey Through the Wild West

Hi, I’m Alanna, Localyst staff member, a native New Yorker, and a self-proclaimed “city girl”. I visited Yellowstone National Park last month for the first time and for someone who isn’t used to the wilderness, I had a lot to learn. From Bison in the road etiquette to not getting too close to old faithful. Let’s deep dive into the experience and what I learned along the way!

Being from the “concrete jungle” I’m used to seeing kitten-sized rats on the subway or pigeons with one foot (yes that’s our wildlife). I tried to prepare myself for the kinds of animals you see when going to a national park. 

What I wasn’t prepared for was how nonchalant the animals were. Bison would either be strolling in the road or just sitting, letting cars pass by without a care in the world. As long as you didn’t bother them they were cool as a cucumber. 

Speaking of the wildlife, a cultural thing I noticed driving through the park was if a lot of cars were pulled over, there would be an animal nearby to look at. What I didn’t think people would try to do was get close to a grizzly bear. 

Now I don’t know much about wild animals out in the West, but I do know a real-life bear is not equivalent to a teddy bear (as much as I’d like it to be). Thankfully I was with a local who knew better than to follow the tourists. 

Another thing I wasn’t prepared for how nice everyone was. While camping on the Yellowstone campgrounds, our neighbors would come up and talk to us or we’d share our breakfast and just have a nice conversation. 

Now that may seem normal, but to a New Yorker, it’s foreign. There’s a reason people say East Coasters are kind but not nice. We’ll help you if you need directions, but that’s as far as the conversation goes.

And lastly, old faithful. Unfortunately, it wasn’t living up to its name while I was there as I never got to see it erupt, but I was a little thankful we didn’t stick around long. The smell of sulfur is…something else, especially when you’re trying to take in the captivating views and wonders of nature.

I also learned while the geysers are considered hot springs, don’t attempt to go in..unless you wanna look like a broiled hot dog. 

I hope this story gave you a little chuckle if you’re from the area or live near a national park. If you’re a city slicker like me, I hope you learned a thing or two! It was definitely a cultural reset for me and one I’d welcome again.