We made an early departure from Cody, WY for the short drive to Yellowstone Park. As we have written, we enjoyed Cody and the beauty of good old American patriotism for the 4th of July weekend, although we believe that it is a daily way of life for the local populist here in Wyoming.
Driving along the highway to Yellowstone we enjoyed the beauty of the Shoshone National Park. The views as the river wound its way south towards Cody. Before we knew it we arrived at the eastern entrance to the park. Much of the drive into the park is along Yellowstone Lake. There are a number of caldrons along the side of the lake with sulfur smelling steam raising in the air. One roadside sign told of the water temperatures at the top of the lake, could cause hypothermia very quickly while at the lake bottom the temperature could be 200 degrees or higher. This was just a prelude to the thermo geography education of Yellowstone Park. We passed a group of cars along the road and stopped to see what they were viewing, it was a beautiful elk lying in the trees. We drove the next 30 miles to find our campsite a few hundred feet from Yellowstone Lake. After checking in, we decided to take the southern loop of Yellowstone. Along Yellowstone Lake, the views with the mountains in the background were stunning. The road took us to Old Faithful, we arrived just as one eruption ended, leaving us about 90 minutes to the next event. The visitor center had a short movie with a very good overview of the geology of the park. About 640 thousand years ago some of the largest volcanic eruptions on our planet occurred. During this period 3 massive eruptions occurred producing huge collapsed craters called calderas that shaped the Yellowstone Plateau and gave birth to the geothermal features in Yellowstone.
We then walked a loop around Old Faithful viewing the various caldrons that actually erupted as smaller geysers a number of time a day. Hot spring algae creates the colors on the rocks from the constant flow. Many of the geysers are beautiful. One we saw while walking around Old faithful has clear blue water and magnificent colors.
Since there wasn’t a stop watch on them, we had no idea when they would erupt. Later as we took a seat waiting for the 2:12 eruption of Old Faithful, we saw some of the smaller ones erupt in the distance. This is an experience that all should enjoy at some point in their lives. As you wait, the crowd grows surrounding the center of the geyser. What is astounding is the number of foreign accents you hear, this is a world destination for many nationalities. The time of the explosion is never exact and the give a time, plus or minus 10 minutes. Old Faithful loves to play the audience and you get a lot of false starts, where everyone is waiting with cameras to record this tremendous explosion of steam from deep inside the earth. All of a sudden Old Faithful decides to give us the show we have all read about, seen pictures and videos of and learned about while studying geology in school. Here are some pictures of the explosion and a video that we took during the event. “A picture is worth a thousand words” is so true.
We laughed when it was over about waiting for the next eruption so we could see it other than through the camera lens! It is sensational, worth the trip to Yellowstone, but only a portion of the Yellowstone experience.
We continued the southern circle of the park and continued to be astounded by the shear beauty of the park. We came upon a backup of cars, generally meaning “Animal Photo Op”, we continued to negotiate the vehicles to find a place to park and sure enough there was a large grizzly bear,the only one we saw during our visit to Yellowstone.
As we got back towards our campground we stopped to see a ranger and find out the best time in the morning to see the animals. Sun up is the time! We set the alarm for 5:00. God bless Janice, she let John sleep in the back while she made her way up to Hayden Valley to pull over and wait for the animals.
A herd of Bison made their way up the road and along the side of the Roadtrek, only feet away from us. We understood that the bison babies were born a little late this year so we had great views of the babies walking with the mothers along side of us. We must admit, sitting and enjoying your coffee and tea with this view, just about tops all experiences.
Once the herds move beyond us, we took the northern circle of the park. The terrain was much more mountainous then the southern loop. We continued to look for more “Animal Photo Ops” along the way.
There were also great water falls such as Tower Falls along the Yellowstone River. The pictures are fun, but the short video brings Tower Falls to life.
The pictures looking back at the river after the falls gives a view of how tremendous the Yellowstone experience is. Some of the views shows the steam raising out of the valleys. Signs are posted that no hiking is allowed as a geologist slipped in the valley and suffered third degree burns. We were very fortunate to come upon a pair of black bear , one on each side of the road, foraging for food. This bear was trying to cross but was a little angry since there were a few people blocking the way.
It is early Saturday morning as we leave our campsite and head to the south towards the Teton National Forest. Driving along Yellowstone Lake, it is just how amazing we were at peace. Watching the geese floating in the water and seeing an elk just grazing next to the road, it was a brilliant, beautiful, peaceful morning.
Yellowstone is special and always will be one of the greatest destinations of all those we have visited in our travels, internationally and here in North America.