Saturday, April 29, 2023

It's National Parks Week! A Look at Caswell Massey's Yellowstone Collection


This past week was National Park Week in the USA, a chance to celebrate what I think is one of our country's crowing achievements and greatest attribute. A diamond in the crown of our park system is Yellowstone. A few years ago Caswell-Massey partnered with the fund raising arm of the park, Yellowstone Forever, to create a set of scents based on some of the park'sc main attractions. The tonics and oils are made using living floral technique, which recreated some of the distinctive flora scents of the park using sustainable materials, and not harming any of the rare botanical species.

Yellowstone became America's first national park on March 1 in 1872, when President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Park Protection Act into law, thus protecting over 2 million acres of wilderness. Intereresting fact, over half of the world's hydrothermal features are found at Yellowstone. By protecting these areas and making them available to all Americans, rather than allowing them to be plundered by the greedy few, I believe this to be one of the most far sighted laws for good ever enacted in our country. A family rafting trip I took over ten years ago down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon remains one of the most epic adventures of my life, being swallowed by nature for several days until we were spit out at the end at Pearce Ferry.

Caswell Massey picked five of the top sights around Yellowstone, and sought to make scents, or tonics as they call them (I personally think this is to make them sound more old fashioned), to represent the area. They used head space technology to capture the flora, much of which is unique to Yellowstone. 


Lake Yellowstone is a high elevation lake and is surrounded by flora that can only grow at elevated, cooler temperatures. Instead of trying to capture the scent of water, Lake is a citrus floral. Shrubby Goldenweed, pictured below, is found all around this area. The scent opens with golden citrus verbena and goldenweed, then has wildflowers such as blue lupine in its heart. I found this the softest of the scents, with a refreshing floral heart, but mild, as if you're in a meadow just getting a hint of the scent. 


Mammoth Hot Springs is a series of hot thermal water pools on a hill composed of travertine, within the confines of Yellowstone Park. It is one of the most unique places to visit in a park that has a lot of spectacular views. Mammoth is a woody aromatic.  Opening notes are citrus zest, with a strong undercurrent of hay grass. This hay smell is dominant to me throughout the scent, and later it is joined by cedarwood and sagebrush. 


The canyon has the highest elevation in the park and is surrounded by clouds and mountain fresh air, and a pine forest so fragrant it is legendary. I personally wish they had chosen to make this scent a forest woody scent, but they went instead in the direction of fragrant, fresh air, and the scent is classified as a citrus aromatic. 

Photo by, photographer
The heart of the scent is full of wildflowers: blue lupine, wild crazyweed, and forget me not petals. Pine needles and juniper come in the heart of the fragrance, although they are not strong on my skin. Finally, cedarwood and tree moss round out the scent. This one stays very fresh on me, and keeps on giving that feel of fresh mountain air.

Tower Fall

Tower Fall is a stunning sight in Yellowstone. A river meanders through  pine forest, then suddenly cascades over the edge of the rocks to fall hundreds of feet! A nearby area is known for its wildlife. Grizzly bear, elk, bison, and wolves roam this landscape.

This scent is classified as a woody floral scent. I will tell you the opening notes, but I'm not sure they are necessarily what I smell. They are phlox flower, red currant, sagebrush, and mountain forget me not. Then comes juniper, pine, and mineral accord, followed by cedarwood and amber. 

What I smell in the opening is almost mildly oud-like, and it feels energetic and a bit chaotic. One can almost imagine the water's great volocity as it goes over the falls. Later I smell a calm woody scent overlayed by a mild floral that feels quiet and settled, just like the water pooling beneath the falls. As you might imagine, these are not traditional perfume scents but try to replicate some of the scents found in nature, so they are unlike anything I've worn before.

Old Faithful

Last, but certainly not least is the geyser which is synonymous with the park, Old Faithful. It is so named because it goes off more frequently and predictably than any other geysers in the park, which is around every ninety minutes. It sprays thousands of gallons of boiling water to heights as high as 180 feet. 

This is another one where the notes don't correspond with what I'm smelling. At first blast I get a sulphureous aroma, as if the geyser has just gone off, and it made me giggle. Fortunately this smell dissipates pretty quickly, and it becomes a woody aromatic, with smells that are leathery, smokey, coniferous, and mossy. 

My favorite scent of these was Lake, but they were all interesting. They come in small 15 ml bottles and are very reasonably priced. I think they may be closing these out (they were introduced in 2019) because they are currently on sale on their "last chance" site, so if you're interested, do hurry! Find a link here.