Monday, September 5, 2011

Exploring Yellowstone National Park- Day 3

We are gradually working our way around Yellowstone National Park. Each day we venture out to a different part of the park, we see really different things. Yellowstone is amazingly different in each part! Here's a map of how we've been getting around the park in our car.....You can see where we've come in the west entrance each time and how we went south the first day, and north the second. I marked the distances on the map so people could see what kind of a drive we did between the points of interest. Every day has been starting from the west entrance, because that's the closest point to Rainbow Point Campground, where we are staying. To recap, on Day 1, we drove through Madison down to Grant Village. On Day 2, we drove from the west entrance to Mammoth Hot Springs.  Today, we drove from the west entrance to Canyon, stopping there to see some fantastic scenery, then on to Fishing Bridge, then turned around and came back.

Contrary to popular belief and the name of the bridge, you can't fish from the Fishing Bridge. O-o-k-a-a-y....

We saw an elk jam right away, notice that there are no bull elk around. (They are out batching around, chumming with their buddies until mating season starts. building up their energy for the pursuit.) Don't these ladies look fat and sassy!

We started our own wildlife jam today! A dubious honor, to be sure, but Sparky spotted a pair of sandhill cranes in a meadow. Having heard their special sound for the last few days at our campground, she wanted to get a photo. Eldo SAFELY pulled over and made sure he didn't veer off the road suddenly, and as soon as people saw me out with my camera, they started stopping. A pair of sandhill cranes just doesn't quite have the impact for some people like a bison does, but quite a few stopped after us to check it out.

We moved further on, and came across another meadow and Eldy spotted a coyote. We stopped and a big tour bus stopped after us. A whole bus full of Asian people poured out of the bus and started chattering in Japanese or Chinese, we're not sure which, but we did hear one word we recognized--"AH-NEE-MAL!" And out came the humongous camera lenses....

Next, Gibbon Falls....beautiful!
We saw this little hiker with his grandparents. Being so short to the ground, he was more interested in what was on the ground! Bless his little heart, and bless his grandparents for taking him out on a nature trail and introducing him to the wonderful stuff out there! And they patiently stopped every time he stopped to take a look at something fascinating to him on the ground. (Sparky liked his shoes!)
Next, the Virginia Cascades....a tight drive into the viewing point, no photo, but interesting how there was a steep drop off with VERY little room to maneuver vehicles back in the pull out. Just a pretty water view of cascading water down a cliff and no guard rail.....This next photo is the view from the Canyon pull out. The park calls this the "Grand Canyon of Yellowstone" and you can see why!

How about this "Grand Canyon" of Yellowstone? AWESOME! The particular trail that we took was called the Brink of the Lower Falls and it was a challenging, very steep elevation drop 600 feet down to get to a viewing point, then a steep climb back up to the top. We think the trail we took today was about 3/4 a mile with tons of switchbacks (a switchback is a reverse change of direction). Luckily, there are plenty of benches for resting at each switchback turn.There are a couple of trails where you can get to the upper falls or lower falls. There's another one called Uncle Tom's Trail and it is very strenuous, but the rewards of taking these trails are worth it. We saw people pushing strollers, seniors using canes, and even a handicapped young person being pushed in a wheelchair (but an ultra modern light one at that). It was spectacular!
We saw some more pools and hot springs and mud pots...a really cool one was Dragon's Mouth Spring. This cave like opening had smoke pouring out just like a dragon's mouth belching smoke without the fire, and there was a rhythmic "belching" of gas that echoed and had a very deep sound to it, sort of like a deep "HARUMPH! HARUMPH!" I tried to do a little video of it, but the cool, deep sound was not picked up by the microphone, darn it! So we'll just have to do with a photo today...
Dragon's Mouth Spring

We saw mudpots for the first time...they were cool--boiling plops of mud...sometimes they get going so hard, they fling mud over the sides of the boardwalk! Anybody for a mudpack facial today?

This one was called "Mud Volcano...

Such an interesting geological place, this Yellowstone National Park! Such turbulence below ground, seething Mother Nature, mini earthquakes happening underground, landscapes changing from year to year....Tomorrow, we take a break from all the driving (ELDY takes a break from all the driving, it's GAME TIME, boys! Notre Dame!) So Sparky will occupy herself with the town of West Yellowstone and we'll see what's there.....See you tomorrow.....Here's a shot of Artist's Point from today before we go.....


  1. We worked at Buffalo Trading Company on Canyon Street last summer. . .it was great. Be sure to stop in. . .they have a little higher quality merchandise. . .and if Brenda (the owner) is there, be sure to tell her we said hi. . .enjoy!

  2. Another great day in a great park. And thanks for carefully and safely pulling off the road before creating a "crane jam." For most people, they wouldn't have the same attraction as mega fauna sightings, but we'd be right there with you.

  3. More great photos of Yellowstone.

    The Yellowstone Grand Canyon was one of our favourite sights during our visit a few years ago.

    Nice to get a few pics of wildlife too! Great job!

  4. Another great day in the park. Brings back great memories of our visit last fall.