My Travel Map

My Travel Map

28 February 2009

Yellowstone National Park: Part 2

Along the Grand Prismatic Spring. I highly recommend you look up aerial shots of this massive color pool. The colors come from various types of bacteria that thrive in certain temperature waters... as the temperature gets hotter or cooler, the color of the bacteria changes. It is surreal that these are so natural and so vibrant. image: "Grand Prismatic Spring from the air" is incredible.

Unfortunately, the main part of the pool (with the crazy blues, yellows, and greens) is mostly shrouded by the clouds of steam, but you can catch the faint glimpse of intense color from time to time. Also, the parts that you can see from the walkway aren't too bad either!

I'm not going to write much about most of these pictures. As we traveled through the park, we were absolutely floored by the views and its enormous size. Hopefully these pictures do some justice for that.

A massive geyser along the Firehole Lake Drive...

And a little guy shooting off some steam.

More prismatic pools...

Missy and I loved how the steam would just rise out of random places throughout the park. If you had no idea where you were, you would think that you were surrounded by forest fires in several parts of the park.

Near Mammoth Hot Springs

Missy and I took a drive to the North Entrance. This is the Roosevelt Gate, named after the President who was so important to the National Park system in the US. It is also in southern Montana, which is a state I have always wanted to spend some time in.

The old post office at Mammoth village.

The Lamar Valley.... we saw wolves!!! The Lamar Valley pack was out and about, sitting up on a ridge line and looking down on the massive buffalo heard that makes the valley its home. We saw about ten wolves total and they were really far off (across the valley), but fortunately several others with telescopes and really nice binoculars were there and willing to let everyone take a gander. It was amazing seeing these predators in their natural habitat...wolves are by far one of my favorite animals.

Another dramatic vista...

Missy's entire trip was made when we saw this bull moose. Moose are dying out in the park mostly due to lack of water supposedly, which is hard to believe considering how much water there seems to be. However, the ranger that was overseeing the sighting was telling me about how few there are in recent years compared to before and how there is a direct correlation to the amount of water in the park.

This park is enormous. It is so spectacular seeing so much unspoiled wilderness. There should be many, many more reserves of land that are this large and off limits to human development.

In the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.... it's from here that the park derives its name.

Our last night camping in the park; it hailed and was very, very cold. Each night we camped in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton, I woke up in the middle of the night to howling wolves; I loved it! This last night was really, really cold though, but fortunately we were all pretty tired and went to bed shortly after dinner and sunset. We woke up to an ice covered tent (the condensation from our warmth inside had frozen into a thin sheet of ice all over the rain slick), but the weather seemed to have cleared, which was very promising for our last day.

One of the first things we saw on our drive back to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone was this: two buffalo swimming across this misting river!

They got out, had a quick drink, and then just wandered around a bit, crossing the road and moving off into the woods. They were very close and it was pretty spectacular.

The Hayden Valley, we saw another pack of wolves here! The two big valleys in the park (Lamar and Hayden) are famous for their wolf packs, though we were extremely fortunate to see both packs within two days! The Hayden Pack was feasting on a kill from the night before; I wonder if it was the cold or the wolves that got whatever kind of animal it was. Once again they were in the distance, but there were others with telescopes and binoculars that were generous with their gear.

Further along the valley we came across a herd of buffalo.

Artist's Point and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. We returned here because we really wanted to see this canyon in full was well worth the extra 40 minutes of driving!

Our last stop in Yellowstone brought us to the West Thumb thermal area.

After another drive through Grand Teton, we stopped and had a full lunch at the Snake River Brewery in Jackson Hole, WY. Jackson Hole is a pretty cool, though super touristy, western town. The drive back was long (~11.5 hrs), but the scenery was amazing. We came back along the west side of the continental divide, which runs diagonally up through Wyoming in a massive ridgeline of 12-13 thousand foot peaks that bee-lines from south-central WY right up to Teton and Yellowstone. There were some spectacular mountains in that range that I would love to spend some time on, especially considering how few people lived around them (and thus how few actually visit them to hike, climb, and camp).