RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Lost in My Own Backyard: A Walk in Yellowstone National Park, by Tim Cahill

Lost in My Own Backyard
Yellowstone is not only the first and oldest national park in the world, but it also attracts more visitors than any other in the country. Even so, over 99.9% of them, as Tim Cahill points out with evidence to support the astonishing number, never venture beyond paved roads and fenced viewpoints. This means most visitors never see the wonders he describes in Lost in My Own Backyard: A walk in Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone really is Cahill's backyard -- he lives in a Montana town near the park -- but he's quick to point out that it's also America's backyard. With his trademark blend of fact, opinion, and wry humor, he discusses topics like the reintroduction of wolves into the park and the practice of "discovering" and naming natural phenomena like waterfalls. He also provides a quick timeline of geological history to explain Yellowstone's unique status as a hotspot with enough potential to end civilization as we know it.

Best of all, however, is Cahill's well-honed ability to take his listeners with him as he explores Yellowstone on day hikes and longer backpack trips. He hikes up the side of Mount Washburn marveling at fumaroles, mudpots, and other geothermal oddities. He searches for -- and finds -- the vast petrified forests described by early explorers. He walks through weird rock hoodoos in the Goblin Labyrinth. He goes on a midnight quest to see a "moonbow" in a waterfall. Every step of the way, Cahill's vivid descriptions leave no doubt as to why early explorers to the region called it "Wonderland."

Of course, no book about Yellowstone would be complete without bears. Cahill does not disappoint, recounting tales of his own interactions with grizzlies and their relatives along with the foolhardy escapades of others. He doesn't shortchange Yellowstone's other denizens, either, from bear-scolding squirrels to wolves, coyotes, elk, moose, owls, and eagles.

Cahill himself is the reader in this audio production. His avuncular voice brings his book to life, making it not only a wonderful way to enjoy Yellowstone vicariously, but also a terrific inspiration to visit, stay a while, and step off the beaten path.


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