Travel, It’s Good For Your Health!

While my last two columns have featured the type of trip that will take a substantial amount of planning and funds, getting away for a couple of days can often be just as beneficial as a two-week holiday. According to a study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, engaging in leisure activities can lower stress hormones, blood pressure, cortisol levels and body mass index. Leisure pursuits can also reduce levels of depression and result in a better psychosocial state. Obvious? Possibly. But when you’re stressed, do you tend to keep working to deal with the things that are causing you stress, or do you take off for a weekend? If you do the latter, then you are more likely to be able to cope with your situation. So here’s my suggestion for a few days away, whether you need it or not!

Yellowstone National Park straddles the borders of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho and is widely believed to be the first National Park created in the world. A UNESCO world heritage site, it is known for its natural beauty and variety of wildlife, and contains around half of the world’s total geothermal features. As we just had three days in total for the trip, my friends and I headed for the North Entrance on the Wyoming border. While there are plenty of accommodations within the park from rustic camping to luxury lodging, we opted for a motel in nearby Livingston – about one hour north of the park entrance on I-90, to avoid the high rates in the park and give ourselves a head-start on the way home. While giant cut-outs of local animals mounted on the roof of The Livingston Inn Motel might make you think you’re staying in a theme park, inside the rooms are clean and cosy, with rustic touches including hand-stitched quilts and horseshoe towel bars. With a little advance planning, we managed to secure a large suite with fireplace and full kitchen for little more than the price of a regular motel room.

Visitors enter the park at the North Entrance through the imposing Roosevelt Arch inscribed with the welcome “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” Moments after driving through, we saw our first glimpse of the wildlife that is so prevalent in the park – a large pronghorn grazing near the road. Shortly after this, we crossed the 45th Parallel, halfway between the North Pole and the Equator. From here, we toured the geothermal attractions on the West side of the park. It was late September, and roads on the east side had already closed due to snowfall – the park is open year-round, but if you plan to go in winter, make sure to plan ahead. The North Entrance is the only one open to cars year-round, and road closures within the park are common in winter. While we focused on the geothermal attractions, hiking, camping, fishing and watersports are all plentiful too.

Highlights of the geothermal spots we visited:

Mammoth Hotsprings Terraces. Stunning jewel-toned limestone terraces cascade down a hillside near the North Entrance to the park.

Artists’ Paintpots. Worth the 2km walk through dense stubby forest – bubbling mudpits, violent steaming pools and primary colours will be a hit with small children.

Biscuit Basin. Giant rainbow coloured pools and the steaming Firehole River.

Old Faithful. A trip to Yellowstone wouldn’t be complete without it! Make sure to allow time to walk around the area and see some of the other features too.

Visit www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm for a full guide to the park.

Have you been somewhere special recently? I’d love to share your travel story! Email me at hall.rebecca.j@gmail.com.

In: