Monday, September 22, 2008

Yellowstone for the Lazy Outdoorsman

(Below is a compressed version of the short film I debuted last week at the Epic Summer Film Festival. For a larger-and much more enjoyable-version of the film, click here.)

Few places on earth can claim the stunning beauty and inspiring geographic variety of Yellowstone National Park. Its natural wonder gives the serious outdoorsman a lengthy checklist of challenging high-adventure activities.

But thanks to the federal government, Yellowstone also has a lot to offer the Lazy Outdoorsman. With a few well-placed boardwalks and an expansive highway infrastructure, Yellowstone National Park can bring you a thrilling encounter with Mother Nature, with only a minimum of effort.

Food and Lodging

Hard core outdoorsmen buy expensive tents and equipment for boring ice caves in the sheer walls of thousand-foot glaciers. But hard-core outdoorsmen also get frostbite and die. The greater Yellowstone area offers an abundance of motels and lodges for your convenience. Better yet, why not enjoy the toasty comforts of a cozy cabin? There's no reason to pack complicated water filters when you can slam an icy cold Mountain Dew and play a stimulating game of Yahtzee after a hot shower.

Don’t bother trying to strain vitamins from those nasty vacuum-packed ration bags; instead, buy plenty of groceries and cook seven-course meals! No one can truly enjoy the outdoors on an empty stomach.


There’s no reason to kill yourself on a bicycle or on foot when you’re in a national park that’s been paved with 15,000 miles of smooth asphalt! Better to see nature the All-American way, behind the wheel of a world-class Pimpmobile. Or see the park the way 50,000 accountants do on weekends—on shiny new motorcycles in their official Harley-Davidson riding leathers!


Yellowstone National Park is the remnant of a huge dormant volcano that hasn't been active since way back in the 60's. All that hot crap under the surface creates tons of geologic activity. Without it, the park would just be another dumb forest, but with it, Yellowstone is a Mecca of Natural Wonders, and the greatest of these wonders are only a quick stroll from a convenient parking lot. Most of the time, boardwalks will bring you right up to the edge of excitement! Here are a few of the easily accessible attractions you will encounter.

Hot Pools

Every year lots of people die because they think these pools are hot tubs and jump in for a little late-night nookie. Then they find out that the water in these pools is like a billion degrees, and when they try to climb out their flesh slips off their bones while they suffer miserable deaths.

Hot Pots

Hot Pots are like the hot pools, except they're made of mud. They also stink to high heaven, so they're a great destination if you've got gas and don't want to embarrass yourself in front of your friends.


Yellowstone is probably best known for geysers. Geysers are what happens when pressure builds up under the earth's crust, then shoots stuff in the air when it can’t stand it anymore, kind of like people in South Chicago.

The most famous geyser is Old Faithful, so named because it won’t cheat on its wife like the other geysers. Up to six billion people visit Old Faithful every year, so developers have constructed an elaborate network of eateries and souvenir shops around the geyser. If you’re lucky, you can even stay at the Old Faithful Inn, which was built with lots and lots of wood.


One of the greatest things about visiting the outdoors is seeing all kinds of wildlife in their natural habitat. Usually one has to travel far into backcountry trails and remote mountain valleys to see nature’s exotic creatures. But in Yellowstone, the animals come to you! They are friendly, tame, and always ready for a good photo op.

Low-Impact Activities

If you do want to get off the beaten path for a little while, Yellowstone also features a number of short day hikes which offer high reward at minimal cost. Spectacular waterfalls like Mystic and Fairy Falls offer stunning photos after only marginal hikes along low-impact trails. You don’t even need to bring a water bottle; just bring a nice walking stick and maybe some granola to hand-feed the Grizzly Bears.

Remember, though: just because it's easy to get to the waterfalls doesn't mean you can't hurt yourself by climbing around them. I'm just saying...


After a brisk thirty-minute hike, there's no better way to unwind than to whip out the old credit card. Luckily, Yellowstone offers a vast variety of top-quality souvenir shops stocked with locally-made goods and mementos. You can also sample local culture at the community theater, pound a burger at a local eatery, or try some candy from the local mart. And while you’re walking from store to store, you always get a taste of that crisp, clean mountain air.

Beyond Yellowstone

Yellowstone is a beautiful place to visit, but it's getting really expensive. It costs twenty-five bucks just to get in and drive around, and you have to pay extra for miniature golf. Why waste your money padding some park budget when you can see practically the same stuff for free? Yellowstone is surrounded by miles of gorgeous forestland, untouched by human hand, and it's all super cheap and totally safe!


After spending a week touring the park, you’ll want to move up there and enjoy nature’s bounty all year long. But if you try to make your sanctuary your home, you just bring up all your everyday problems with you, and then all you’ve got is a pretty backdrop for depression. So just go home; you can always come back next summer. In the meantime, take a picture or two; it lasts longer, and you can always use PhotoShop to make yourself look more daring. Enjoy!