Yellowstone National Park is stunning all summer, but in October it’s even more stark and striking. The grass becomes the color of straw, the bison get frost in their fleece and mist rises off the rivers in the cold. Most of the crowds have gone—though there are still knowing visitors—and snow dusts the mountaintops.
Then there’s the Madison River, the main attraction for anglers making their late-season pilgrimage to the Park. Brown trout head into the river to spawn, their color bolder, deeper red and gold. Following the fish are people who wake up early in the freezing dark to go stand in the water. In feels foolish at times, but when it all comes together it’s clear that it’s the right thing to do.