Bloom Gets His Kit Off in Yellowstone
by Mark H. Bloom with Jason Scholder
This is truly one of my favorite stories because it reveals a rare travel discovery, one you happen upon instead of research to death. Such discoveries involve 100 percent luck and timing, things I often find in short supply on the road. Travel discoveries represent the Holy Grail for non-tourists like myself. They reaffirm our faith in God and in ourselves.
Have I piqued your interest yet? I hope so. After all the places I’ve insulted in this blog, this story finally deals in magic, charm, and possibly, sex. Read on.
Like most of the places I end up really liking — and there are a few, believe it or not — this destination is a bit off the beaten track. So if you want to experience it for yourself, you have to go that extra mile to get there. Where is it exactly? It’s between eastern Idaho, southwestern Montana, and northwestern Wyoming.
That’s right: Yellowstone National Park. It’s hardly a secret destination. It’s not even that difficult to find. It was the first national park in the world, approved by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, and it’s likely the planet’s best known.
Twice the size of Rhode Island, it features natural wonders like waterfalls, buffalo, and the geyser known simply as Old Faithful. But even a place as renowned as Yellowstone can conceal a few hidden gems, like the sparkling quartz inside a diode or the compassion inside a Republican.
Near Mammoth Hot Springs, in the northwest corner of the park — in fact, the exact location lies along the Mammoth-to-Gardiner road at the 45th Parallel parking area — you’ll find an easy half-mile trail leading downhill to the river. There, behind a large rock, waits a small half-moon-shaped bay cut out of the riverbank into which surges a natural hot spring. Although it’s actually part of the river, separated by nothing more than the temperature of the water, the small bay forms a natural hot tub that puts to shame anything Jacuzzi could build.
Soaking is permitted, but stay close to shore since the river’s currents can be strong enough to carry dogs and debutantes downstream. The underground spring forces steaming hot water out a fissure about three feet above water level. You can stand beneath the hot falls to get a great neck massage. You can sit on the rock ledge beneath and let the torrent pound your back and shoulders.
If the water temperature or pressure becomes overwhelming, simply move out from under the falls into another part of the half-moon hot tub. The swirling water ebbs, flows, and eddies around your knees. The river currents occasionally send a stream of icy cold water through the little bay to tickle your legs, but believe me, you won’t mind. It’s refreshing, stimulating, and doesn’t last.
Sound idyllic? It gets better. If you return after sundown, you’ll find a whole new crowd soaking in the river: knowledgeable park employees and lucky visitors of both genders, bathing in the clothing-optional darkness.
One blissful July evening, I joined eight others for a midnight dip. Men and women (adults only) giggled and splashed as we immersed ourselves in the steaming water. For a time, the falls poured over my shoulders, teleporting me to another dimension, a dimension in which I was a famous guest blogger. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Skinny-dipping with strangers can bring out the most daring in some people. After a long day in the grandeur of a place like Yellowstone, which heightens the senses better than any known hallucinogen, the naturally hot water kneading your muscles can turn your mind to mush. You realize you are no longer capable of making rational decisions.
I had arrived at that point. All my cares, my woes, and my inhibitions flowed downriver with the current. In the utter darkness, a hand caressed my leg. Knees touched. Passions flared. I was all ready to let nature take its course.
Picture the scene if you can. There I was, lounging naked in a natural hot tub, along the bank of a river, as warm to hot to cold to hot water swirled around my bare buns. Steam rose into the darkness above, the only sound the water rushing over the rocks. A curious hand from the cutie beside me searched for a particular rock formation.
And then the moon rose over the tree-lined hills.
It was almost too much for a single human to take in. When the full moon appeared, looking down through the mist like the Eye of God, I suddenly realized this moment wasn’t just about sex. It was about the beauty of Nature and the wonder of Life. It was about the spiritual essence of being. If God Himself suddenly appeared, it would have come as no surprise. I felt awe. I felt inspired. I felt the hand reach its goal. And so I thanked God, personally, several times that night.
Lessons Learned: Go to Yellowstone. Take a video of Old Faithful. Take pictures of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Those are memories you’ll want to have. But for a memory you won’t need a photo to remember, forget your swimsuit and find your way to the best natural outdoor hot tub in the world. You won’t be sorry.
Mark H. Bloom is a published writer and editor originally from Salem, MA, aka The Witch City — whose North River offers only smells, not views. While he misses one national park, Mark now lives close to another, the Blue Ridge Parkway, in the mountain town of Asheville, NC. He entertains himself writing creatively and professionally while editing books and coaching writers. Get in touch with Mark a firstname.lastname@example.org and read his full bio below.