6/13 – From Bighorn I was entering Yellowstone from the east, had gone through Cody on the way, Buffalo Bill/William Cody fame. There’s a huge Buffalo Bill Museum/Historical Center but I wasn’t able to go. No dogs allowed, and it was sunny and hot and no shade for parking. Soooo, on to Yellowstone.
I didn’t have reservations, it was late afternoon and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get a spot so I stopped at a little campground called Eagle Creek, with plans to drive in to one of the “first come” campgrounds early in the morning. Just 5-6 miles from the East Entrance to Yellowstone, in the Shoshone National Forest. Interesting that Yellowstone NP is surrounded by National Forests, all the land in that area of the country is so magnificent, definitely worth saving. Anyway, campground right on the Shoshone River, I could hear and see it from my campsite, and mountain behind it. (bottom pix). Really nice.
After setting up I immediately drove into Yellowstone, just couldn’t not, even tho it was getting late, but not dark til 9-9:30. Didn’t realize the entrance was 25 miles from the active area of the park! But what a drive! Just Wow!!! Drive through a pass between mountains, snow still on the higher elevations, then as the road rose there was the snow at our level. And the road fell to the Yellowstone lake. Just a fantastic drive. I decided even tho it was a drive, I liked the CG and the drive so much I’d stay a day or two then move into the park.
Next day drove back in early, saw many wonders I didn’t see the night before. Stopped to watch some kids sliding down one of the avalanche snow banks. Cold bottoms! And as I got close to the lake a crowd of cars and people pulled off and standing with binocs and big lens cameras. What? Bear!! Ranger there telling everyone it was Rose, a 3 1/2 y.o. who was just separating from her mom, Raspberry, so she could mate again. Could see it with my binocs but the ph. camera zoomed all the way could barely get it. It was so exciting to see how happy and excited all these people were, me too, at seeing a bear even from a great distance. Ear to ear grins, excited yelps, everyone friendly and talking to everyone, sharing the experience with strangers. What fun!! Zoom in and you might be able to see the cub in the first photo. 2nd is the crowd watching. What’s left of avalanches.
Many of you have been to Yellowstone, for those who haven’t, it’s huge, but most of the hydrothermal action is in the center “caldera”, a crater that was formed by a volcano and then carved and filled by glaciers some 14,000 yrs. ago. The caldera area contains the geysers, hot springs, fumaroles (hot steam coming out of the ground or water), mud pots, etc., and is surrounded by mountains, big rivers with waterfalls forming canyons and lakes. The active center area is basically an irregular circle, and there’s a drive probably 150 miles, plus a road cut through the middle. No matter where you stay, a lot of driving is required. At strategic points, at each of 5 entrances and each big action spot, there are “villages”, really congested spots with visitor centers, stores, gas, lodges, camping, large parking lots, etc. The visitor centers are really good, I always stop at them, educational materials, displays, often movies, rangers to answer questions, Since it was raining a lot they were very popular places, along with gift shops which I basically avoid tho I did buy a T-shirt!!, so crowded but still good. Sooo much to see in Yellowstone, it’s not just Old Faithful.
It rained every day I was there, tho not all day long. It was pretty amazing even with cold cloudy rain, I’d love to see it all in the sunshine tho. I ended up staying at the Eagle Creek CG 3 nights, those days I drove all the sights on the east side, and every day’s drive into the park center was a new adventure. The east side included the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and it’s waterfalls, pretty amazing overlooks to view them. Mud Volcano Area on the way.
And one day I went south to the Grand Tetons, impressive gigantic mountain peaks. On the way once again even bigger crowd close to the same spot. Not only saw Rose, but across the road was mom Raspberry and her new beau. As far away as previous, so won’t post pic.
Xena saying goodbye to the Tetons and saw another bear pair (not sure if it’s mom and cub or mating pair cause the male is so much bigger than the female)
The last day at EC, again cold (below freezing the morning before!) and raining!, I went to the Old Buffalo Bill/William Cody Lodge Museum on the way into Yellowstone. He build a hotel in Cody (and much more) and then this lodge at the edge of Yellowstone as tourism was growing here. Very interesting, with an interesting William Cody lookalike as tour guide with lots of Cody (the man) stories. There’s new lodge and cabins (built on same spots as original ones) and a restaurant where I ate a buffalo burger for early lunch. I was glad I stopped here since I didn’t get to the museum in Cody.
There’s a Bald Eagle in that tree, zoom in. An eld in the meadow and fumaroles everywhere.
After 3 days I went to the campground at Norris Geyser Basin on the west side. which was really I think the best Geyser Basins (where geysers are clustered together at particularly “hot” active spots). After I got settled, it was raining particularly bad, I went into the town of West Yellowstone west of the park, to do laundry, grocery shopping, much needed shower, and WiFi (no success there). The guy who owns the laundromat, with showers, worked in Yellowstone for years so he knows what the campers need. Got a booming business going. He should also have WiFi! Just sayin’. All those services are available somewhere in the park but far away in the busiest areas and very expensive.
Norris Geyser Basin has all the different kinds of hydrothermal action in Yellowstone. That last photo in particular shows the dramatic scene of the steam and clouds meeting.
Those days at Norris I did all the other west side attractions, including Mammoth Hot Springs, the other Geyser Basins and Old Faithful. Mammoth Hot Springs are amazing, steaming water flowing over huge rock “terraces”. And as you would expect, huge crowds. The “village” area includes and area of old buildings from old fort used to protect Yellowstone in the past.
Those pix were all from a viewpoint above Mammoth, the last one you can see the boardwalk trail that takes you from this viewpoint down to Mammoth.
And these are from below, including a flower growing through it all.
I saw OF erupt but it wasn’t very impressive, all steam, not much water spewing visible. Apparently when it’s cold, when the hot water hits the cold air it condenses quickly and is all steam. Managed to see it 3 times since I walked around to see all the Upper Geyser Basin where OF is, which took a long time so it was ready to go again, and again.
I heard a child near me say that last spring should be named pac man. Can’t remember it’s name, but that’s more appropriate.
I was in Yellowstone for 8 days, could have stayed a month, so much to see, and I was blown away by it all. My head is still reeling. And there’s so much geological information and history to take in too, I could write forever about it all and not make a dent.
A few parting shots of some of the wildlife.
In case you don’t recognize it, that’s my car! In the campground. That buffalo chased a man who ran in between my car and camper!!! Thanks. Elk in the field. Buffalo mom and babe. Elk mom and babe. Well that’s not wildlife, it’s a woman from FL who spends 5 months in the summer in West Yellowstone. She comes out everyday and patiently, meditatively waits for some of the geysers to erupt that aren’t so regular.
That’s all folks, til next time.
Lynn and Xena