Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Exploring Yellowstone National Park Day 4

We're just about all the way around the loop road around the park, and boy, have we seen the sights! The one thing we haven't done is hike any trails. It's been very discouraging to see so many trails closed because of the threat of bear activity. Because there are "feeder" trails that go into the main one where the hiker was killed, there are more trails closed than just one. From what we see of the trails, many of them are out in the open, or passing through new growth forests, recovering from forest fires. They just don't look very interesting like the trails do in Glacier National Park. We might be missing a gem or two for hiking trails, but we're much more into exploring the geysers and pools THIS time around.

Today we headed from the west entrance to Fishing Bridge, covering the section from West Thumb, Lake Village to Fishing Bridge, back north through Canyon Village and then left back through the Norris Basin Junction, to Madison, back to the west entrance. I call this trip the Lower Loop. and whaddya know--the park called it the Lower Loop, too! We visited a couple of basin areas that we missed the first time around--Biscuit Basin and Black Sand Basin which are past Old Faithful on the way to Grant Village. We saw a coyote again in the same meadow as a couple of days ago, only this time he was much closer! And still hunting grasshoppers...It was fun to see him jump up into the air and POUNCE! down on one.

We drove a beautiful drive past Yellowstone Lake, and in the distance, we could see a managed forest fire burning....The lake was BIG and it was gorgeous. We stopped to hike a flat two mile hike back to the Natural Bridge a little bit further north on our drive. In our opinion, you could skip that after seeing Utah's arches and natural bridges. It really wasn't very pretty, nor was it very interesting. But, we had a nice little three mile round trip hike back to see it, so that was good. We found it interesting, that on this west side of driving the lower loop, there were few picnic tables to sit and admire the view, and far less restrooms. This is a less traveled section of the park apparently, as there are hardly any hydrothermal features in this area. There are plenty of pullouts and places to stop and park your car along Yellowstone Lake but they are not labeled as to being views or parking areas. We would see a paved driveway, pull in, and discover that it was just a huge pullout, no restrooms, no picnic tables but a nice view of the lake area! We had a nice picnic beside the lake at one of the few tables we did find.

Here's something you hardly ever see--Eldy jogging eagerly towards the car after the boring hike to the Natural Bridge. (Do I get any points for that? asks E.) You bet, honey! But I won't say how far you jogged, ok?

We stopped to see Mud Volcano north of Fishing Village and that was cool! As you pass Mud Volcano, you are driving through the Hayden Valley, supposedly where the bison herds were to be, but we didn't see but just a few lone bison out sunning themselves.

There were a few elk jams as usual, and one big bison jam. There were THREE bisons in a field at another stop, making for a picturesque shot, but I guess we are getting sort of blase about all the animals we've seen. We didn't even stop this time for that jam. This was ONE elk that caused the elk jam. It would have been a great photo had we caught her walking through the river, but by the time we got there, she was out and grazing.

We did stop for some wonderful pools and springs....I love this Emerald Pool...

Notice the bear sign next to the Emerald Pool...We looked long and hard at the hillside, but didn't see any.....
Check out these "bobby sox" trees...the PH of the soil and the chemicals in the ground have "eaten away" at the roots and killed the trees.

It was a beautiful drive today, our last one for our stay....we really enjoyed Yellowstone National Park. We feel that we really explored the area and have seen everything we came to see. It was magnificent! Tomorrow, we head for the Tetons! We are going to stay in Tetonia, Idaho, just across the border from Grand Teton National Park, about 50 miles away. It's in a Passport America Park, $46.00 for three nights! That's a little further than we'd perhaps like to be for going into a national park, but what a great rate! We'll scope out the area and see if we can find something very reasonable to get closer.

I'm not sure I mentioned where we stayed here at Yellowstone, so before I go, our park here was Rainbow Point Campground in the Targhee National Forest. Fourteen dollars a night at Rainbow Point, a back in site, practically right on Hebgen Lake (easy boat launch) and just five miles from the west entrance to Yellowstone. Just electric, no water, no sewer, but VERY beautiful forest, and ok for getting in with a big rig as far as tree branches, etc. Our only complaint was the severe washboard road for two miles coming into the entrance to the campground. Five miles an hour in the motorhome....ugh!  But-this place has great trails all over the place for ATV and mountain bike riding as long as you stay off the main washboard road......We loved it here...

See you on the road tomorrow! It's a travelin' day!


  1. We liked the trails in Grand Teton NP better than Yellowstone. If you can do without power, Gros Ventre campground in Grand Teton NP is a great place. Saw great horned owls, moose and beavers in the campground and nearby river. Also very close to Jackson. Have fun!

  2. Great pictures again, brings back a lot of good times. I think I have an almost identical picture of a coyote.