Saturday, July 8, 2023

Yellowstone! Part 2 of 2

Our last day (for now) in Yellowstone, and it was a good one!

It was Waterfall Day, and we were excited to see how big the Yellowstone River was after plenty of winter snow.  Answer = pretty dang big!  Nice timing for our visit.

Jason and Kristi's campground host suggested we park near Lower Falls and hike around to a loop by Clear Lake.  Something new for me and John - let's do it!  Turned out to be more walking than we had anticipated (based on my very loose map estimates), but everyone was game to keep going and see as much as we could see.

Admiring the river and all the mist at the Lower Falls overlook:

There's a whole lot of water going over that edge!

As you can see... bigger than John and I have ever witnessed:

A short video at Lower Falls:

The river between the waterfalls is quite scenic and we were happy to walk up the trail to see more.  Except for some Grand Canyon river rafting flashbacks.

Upper Falls was also going crazy, so super cool:

Yep, impressive.

How a tree can grow there is anyone's guess:

Hello nice marmot!

View of the bridge we'd walked over on the other side:

Another angle on Upper Falls, with a rainbow for good measure:

The start of the long section of incredible colors and shapes in the Yellowstone canyon:

Hard to say how long this tree will be here (we should come back in a couple years to check on it):

View from Artist's Point - so dramatic even my little camera does a decent job:

Sharing the space with a bunch of other people - worth it for this view (and most of the rest of our hike was much quieter, at least people-wise if not rushing water-wise):

More gawking as we continued along the rim, so pretty!  Oh, and yes it's about to rain, because it's afternoon in Yellowstone:

Trying to keep the camera dry, I didn't get pictures of the thermal features on the trail around past Clear Lake.  I highly recommend that hike for something different that not many people know about.  Random steam coming out of holes and springs, you gotta love it.

Finishing up the lake hike as the sky starts to clear again:

On our way back to the truck, suddenly John said "Bear!" and he put out his arms to stop everyone in our tracks.  Not only a Bear! but also two cubs!!

Bear spray in hand, we walked slowly backward and watched the scene in front of us.  How cute are these little ones?!

We stayed for a while, continuing to slowly retreat and keep our distance.  Eventually the bears left the path, while we circled around the other way to take the road instead.  Thank you bears, that was awesome!

I couldn't resist a trip over to the mud volcano area.  It's one of my favorite places in the park.  We were just in time for a ranger talk at the volcano, yay for ranger talks!

Dragon Mouth Spring was going strong with a whole lot of steam-generated noise:

Kristi got a sticker for helping the ranger by taking measurements with her temperature gun  :)

Trying to squeeze every last bit out of the day, we walked both loops at Norris Geyser Basin.  So otherworldly:

I believe this trail is closed.  Not sure the status of the campground:

More incredible landscape:

Maybe someday we'll be lucky enough to see Steamboat erupt (although apparently that might not be great for the vehicles in the parking lot):

Wonderful adventures!  Thank you John, Jason, and Kristi for a fun, full three days in the park.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Yellowstone! Part 1 of 2

We love Yellowstone National Park and will return any chance we get.  Every time we go we see new things, and even the things we're seen before are still amazing (and sometimes have changed in some way).

So when we had a few extra days in between Bighorn and our next destination (southern Idaho), I checked for RV park availability in West Yellowstone and found a site available.  Score!

Even better, our friends Jason and Kristi were interested in joining us.  And they were up for some hiking and on-foot exploring.  So we gathered in town and started a 3-day (all day, every day) tour of various parts of the park.

First up - a trail with a view of Grand Prismatic, excellent!

This is probably the best place to view the giant colorful spring, except somehow by air:

Further up the trail we found Fairy Falls, another lovely discovery:

Even further up, to Imperial Geyser (with an added attraction next to it):

I love unexpected mud pots!  All bubbling and gurgling:

We walked up the small hill nearby for a different view (and to briefly escape the mosquitoes that congregated around the little creeks):

Something of a selfie on the way back:

We spent the afternoon based at the Old Faithful Lodge, always fun to see the beautiful building and occasionally a look at the tourist buses:

I went for a run in the geyser basin (one of my favorite places to log miles).  Here's a random yet completely normal thing to see there, steam coming out of the ground:

Firehole River is aptly named:

Punch Bowl Spring, what a perfect moniker!

I ran over to Black Sand Basin, which also has a lot of steam and fun colors:

And water spewing out of the ground, so cool:

I made it back up the hill in time to catch Daisy Geyser erupting, excellent!  I can't recall ever seeing this one before:

A short Daisy geyser video:
I was checking out the other side of the river when the skies got rather dark.  My jacket was already on due to ongoing sprinkles, but I decided to hustle back to the lodge.  First though!  Old Faithful was erupting, excellent!

One more awesome bubbling pool on the way back:

Geyser Day is always awesome!

The next day we went looking for wildlife.  I misplaced the location of Hayden Valley in my brain, so we ended up travelling near Mount Washburn instead.

No matter, because when we paused for a bathroom break, we overheard a woman talking about some wolf pups she had seen.  We asked for more details and then backtracked to try to find the location.  At one of the pull-offs, a coyote mom walked right past us.  We stood completely still, trying to figure out why she seemed unafraid (maybe she had found food there before?)

Jason's picture:

That was a new one!  We continued driving to look for wolf babies, when Kristi spotted movement across a ravine.  Sure enough, little pups were rolling around on the hillside!  Except we're pretty sure they were coyotes and not wolves.  Still very cute and worth the search.

Back on the road and over to Tower Falls for a short hike to see a pretty waterfall:

Checking out the Yellowstone River and an interesting tree:

Basalt rocks and colorful banks (yellow stones):

Our first bear sighting!  This creature was foraging next to the road, giving all the people in the slow-moving cars a chance to see it and take a picture.  Thank you, bear!

We went into Roosevelt Lodge for the first time (Hi Teddy!) and looked for the nearby trail but decided instead to drive around to the petrified tree.  Still standing, nice one (and all by itself - which seemed weird after the plethora of trees at Petrified Forest):

Good morning ravens - but no food for you!

Moose spotting!  It's a zoomed and cropped picture from inside the truck, so you'll have to squint to see it:

We parked at Mammoth Hot Springs for several hours, giving us time to roam around on trails and explore.  I don't know how they managed to fit all these amazing things into one park, super cool:

There wasn't much water on the terraces this time, not sure why it looked so different from last time we were here.  Still pretty though:

It's afternoon so apparently it's time for rain clouds.  They mostly stayed away from our area that day.  Just close enough to help with a dramatic photo:

I'm guessing these trees would have preferred to grow up somewhere else:

Giant orange dome on the upper walking road (we hadn't gotten up here before, neat to find it):

Fun trail down the other side:

Love this boardwalk-looking feature:

I wasn't sure I had enough time to run out to the beaver ponds, but once I started down the trail I figured there was no turning back.  I might have even seen the head of a swimming beaver on the biggest pond, not certain though.

A glimpse of Gardiner:

Another adventure-filled day, and we hadn't quite worn everyone out just yet.  Good thing, because we've got more to see tomorrow!