May 30-31, 2015
After our travel through the northern plains we came to the eastern gateway to Yellowstone. This was my first visit; Carla has wonderful memories of camping here with her family when she was young. She’s wanted to visit again for a long time.
We approached from Cody, Wyoming and arrived at the east entrance after a 52 mile drive. If you are 62 years old or better and plan to visit a national park in your lifetime I strongly recommend purchasing a senior pass. After paying a one time fee of $10-$20 you can get into any national park free! We’ve been using it for a couple of years now.
No sooner had we entered than we saw a bison in a meadow. Technically these are bison; not buffalo. Buffalo are the creatures that live in Africa (and maybe Asia?) like the ones we saw on our South Africa trip here (you’ll have to scroll down about 2/3 of the way through the page – or look at the other animals we saw on safari).
[Note: Please click on the images to get bigger images.]
I wasn’t as close as it appears – thank goodness for zoom lenses. Many of the bison we saw had these shaggy coats that looked like they were coming off. I wonder if they are losing their winter coats.
There is a large Grand Loop that drives through Yellowstone with a cutover between east and west. There are animals – mostly bison – all along the way. Bears are the big find and when is in sight the traffic comes to a halt and a Park Ranger is on hand to keep people from being stupid. We captured one measly useable picture of a baby bear frolicking amongst some broken branches.
Mama bear was close by but we didn’t get a good shot of her. We did get some shots of a young moose eating greens in a river and a deer of some sort rambling around.
Other than the bison; the story of the wildlife pictures are the creatures I didn’t capture: we saw a red fox scooting through the brush when we stopped for gas. I also saw a wolf working its way through a snow bank along the Yellowstone River. I can hear you: “Yeah, sure you did.”
As we headed north along the Grand Loop along the east end of the park we came to the Upper Falls Brink of the Yellowstone River. We parked and took a short walk (and at 7,500+ feet of elevation a short walk is plenty long) to watch the falls in action. I haven’t included video in my blog posts much; I hope this comes through.
We then headed toward the Lower Falls which our friend Becki told us was not to be missed; unfortunately there had been a landslide a few days before so the trail was closed. We did catch a view of it farther down the river though.
Magnificient! I’m sure all my California friends are frustrated with these pictures of water; they are in a serious drought and could make use of this stuff.
In addition to the wildlife and magnificent mountains the mineral springs, fumaroles, and geysers are a huge drawing point of Yellowstone. We worked out way around the park to see a lot of them. Unfortunately I took too long to write this post after taking the photos so I don’t have the locations and names down. Sorry! But don’t worry; if you go, you’ll see plenty.
First we came upon what I think was Dragon’s Cave. At least that’s what its name should be. There was plenty of steam and noise coming from the opening.
We were absolutely amazed at the crystal clear springs with different tints of color.
They look beautiful but I don’t think swimming in them would be any fun. Notice the dead zones around the springs. The minerals that come out of these springs is not good for plant life – to say the least. As they springs continue to push water out mineral deposits build up to form some beautiful formations.
That formation is at least 30 feet high!
But woe to the vegetation that get caught. Either the heat or the minerals kill the trees and everything else.
Our room for the night was at the south end of the park and we were pretty far north late in the afternoon. Because of some bridge construction we had to take a 40 mile detour to get to our hotel. Although it had been overcast all day we didn’t get any rain, until evening – then it started pouring. Thankfully we had completed our sight-seeing for the day.
And then as we headed south next to Yellowstone Lake the rain slackened and we were treated to a double rainbow!
We reached our lodge at 8:00, ate a nice dinner at the lodge hotel and retired talking about the sites we had seen. Our destination the next day was West Yellowstone – a small town, you guessed it, on the west end of the park. We wanted to see Old Faithful before we left but that bridge construction meant another 60 mile detour. But it was worth it.
We’d seen plenty – but not enough by Carla’s calculation – of Yellowstone so in late afternoon we headed out of the park. Carla was like a kid in a candy store; it was everything she remembered from those family camping trips as a kid. I imagine we’ll be back; it’s not really that far from us in Portland and lies between us and the kids in Chicago.
Only two more days left of our trip at this point: Boise, then home! I didn’t get any pictures of those two days so I’ll sum them up on my next post which will have the statistics of our trip.