We bid farewell to the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota on Sunday September 15th and headed up through Sturgis and Spearfish. Finally, we were on our way to Yellowstone National Park.
We crossed the state line into Wyoming and realized that Sundance is just 30 miles from Devils Tower National Monument. Surely, we can’t pass that close and not take a small side trip. A couple of bison and longhorns agreed to pose for us there.
The size and scale of Devils Tower is not obvious until you look carefully at some of the telephoto shots I took. We never noticed in the field that several people were climbing the tower while we were there.
Just north of Sheridan we left I-90 onto US14 and soon entered the Bighorn National Forest. The vistas and canyons were amazing as we paralleled Shell Creek. We paused for a few moments to soak in the views before pressing on through Greybull and Cody.
We made our way into the east entrance and were finally in Yellowstone. Yay! We made it!
The rugged terrain along the east entrance bears no resembleance to the wooded west entrance as shown in this image. The topography in this huge national park varies all over the place.
Our home in Yellowstone for the entire week was at Dunraven Lodge in Canyon Village. The stunning Lower Falls and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River was about two miles from us.
For much of this trip I had a hard time getting my head around the scale of everything in the western US. Mountains are taller, canyons are deeper and horizons farther away. That impression is tough to capture in a photograph.
Even in this closeup of the lower falls you cannot see the people standing on the observation platform just to the right of the top of the falls. The trees in the foreground are too close to my position to really provide proper scale for the 308 foot high falls.
We were blessed with beautiful weather for most of our visit and even treated to a dusting of snow. This image of the Yellowstone River was taken in Hayden Valley near Nez Perce Ford. The Nez Perce indians crossed the river near here in August of 1877 while being pursued by US troops. They were trying to avoid being forcibly relocated from their home in Oregon.
We spent a good portion of our time in the park looking for animals. Many could be found in Hayden and Lamar valleys. The journey from our home in Canyon Village up to Lamar takes us over 10,243 foot Mt. Washburn and then to Tower Roosevelt. Just south of Tower Roosevelt junction is Tower Fall, shown here, on the Tower Creek.
Mammoth Hot Springs lies in the northwest corner of the park near the Montana border. Heat, water and limestone combine to form the interesting lower terraces. It’s a sight you might expect to see in a cave somewhere but, it’s out in the open.
The Main Terrace I found to be even more colorful. Not sure if there’s a body under that hat or not. Looks like a nice hat though.
A closeup view of an area in the main terrace reveals patterns that might be fractals. They seem to mimic the larger terraces on a much smaller scale. I was reminded of a coral reef by their appearance.
South of Mammoth Hot Springs and west of Canyon Village is Norris junction and the Norris Geyser Basin. Steamboat Geyser is located here. It’s the tallest active geyser but, it rarely erupts. I had read that it erupted this summer for the first time in eight years. As you can see here it was pretty active but, not actually erupting. I gave it maybe an hour but, then had to move on. Oh well, maybe next time.
Continuing further southward from Norris junction we came to Artist’s Paint Pots. We ended up visiting this area twice because our first visit ended in a hasty retreat when lightning strikes were happening all around us. These areas are quite exposed and dangerous in thunderstorms.
Our next stop was a beautiful overlook of the Gibbon River. It was still overcast from the passing storms but, you can see the vivid colors on the hills and in the river.
A short distance away are the Gibbon Falls. It’s a lovely little ribbon-like 84 foot falls.
South of Madison junction are the Fountain Paint Pots. Here we found the Clepsydra Geyser. Since the 1959 earthquake it erupts pretty much continuously. Prior to that, it erupted every three minutes. The geyser reaches heights of 45 feet or so.
The beautiful Firehole Lake Drive is home to Firehole Spring. It’s a very active and colorful thermal feature with many others along this route.
The Midway Geyser Basin looks like something from a distant planet and contains several thermal features.
This is a portion of the Excelsior Geyser Crater within the Midway Geyser Basin.
This ground level view of the Grand Prismatic Spring doesn’t do it justice. To really appreciate it you have to see it from high overhead. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to hike up the hill behind it nor could we hire a helicopter.
I wasn’t going to visit Yellowstone without seeing Old Faithful Geyser. It’s the signature thermal feature in the park. It may not be the biggest or the most beautiful but, it’s impressive nonetheless.
The Old Faithful Inn first opened in 1903 and is one of the largest and grandest “log cabins” ever built. The 65 foot high lobby shown here features a massive stone fireplace and clock. It’s a beautiful and warm space that seems to take you back in time.
A classic Yellow Tour Bus parked at the Old Faithful Inn with Old Faithful Geyser in the background. These White model 706 tour buses were specifically manufactured for the park in 1935. They were refurbished in 2007 and can be seen throughout the park.
Well, this has been just a small sampling of the hundreds of images I took in Yellowstone National Park. It was quite simply a trip of a lifetime and I’ll forever cherish the opportunity I had to view the many wonders of this glorious park. It is certainly worthy of being our first national park and makes me extremely grateful that visionary leaders in our country were successful in setting this region aside as a park for future generations. I cannot wait to return but, our next stop is Grand Teton National Park. Fantastic!