People travel from all over the world – sometimes at great expense – to visit Yellowstone, the world’s first national park. But it turns out some of those visitors apparently leave disappointed. And how they express those thoughts can be hilarious.

A roundup of not-so-hot Yelp and Google reviews published in the Chronicle Tuesday included visitor complaints about the park’s lack of a Starbucks, street food, cell phone towers and reliable Wi-Fi. There were gripes about rude rangers, rules barring visitors from swimming in hot pools, aggressive bears and squirrels, a not-so-faithful Old Faithful and, ironically, obnoxious tourists.

And that was just a sampling of the many posts panning the park.

In fairness, many of these reviews were perhaps intended to be tongue-in-cheek. Review sites bring out the wry wit in a lot of folks. There’s a bit of a competition on these sites to see who can be the looniest. But intentionally or not, the posters drew attention to exactly why Yellowstone is such global draw.

It’s all about your frame of mind.

The sparsity of cell towers and Wi-Fi is a plus. Look around. Whether at work, home or out on the street, the percentage of people you see with their eyes glued to a screen or ears glued to a phone is staggering. And it’s hard to think of many positive things about that. Digital devices have isolated us from those around us.

A visit to Yellowstone can be a welcome break from all that. A few days or a week or more minus the tsunami of information that plagues are daily lives is a breath of fresh air. Ditto for the coffee stops and food carts. Natural wonders and wildlife are a welcome substitute for the onslaught of commercial marketing that has become the backdrop of our daily lives. It turns out you can live – quite comfortably – without a designer cup of coffee and the latest in street eats.

And those rules about staying on boardwalks and a safe distance from those wild animals? They’re there for your protection. This isn’t Disneyland. There are real risks associated visiting park – risks borne out by yearly stories of dangerous, even lethal, visitor encounters with animals and thermal features.

Yep. There are few things you will have to do – and do without – when you visit Yellowstone National Park. But keep it in perspective. These are good things.

Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Nick Ehli, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Don Beeman, community member
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Sarabeth Rees, community member
  • David Swingle, community member

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