Thursday, September 20, 2012

Welcome to Yellowstone! Pee-yew, whats that smell!?!

We finally made it to Yellowstone!
It's been a fun journey thus far, and we made it to Yellowstone before the winter weather set in.  The main road around Yellowstone is setup like a large figure eight, so our plan was to spend a few days exploring the southern loop, and then move on to the campgrounds around the center of the figure eight, and then on to the top.  Unfortunately, like all good plans, reality had something else in mind for us.

We arrived at Grants Village in the late afternoon and booked a site for 3 days.  We were just getting our motorhome setup when we heard an Elk bugle.  We walked over to the trail around camp, and it wasn't a minute later and a large bull came waltzing by following two cows!  Unfortunately, we hadn't had time to grab a camera.

The first day was spent exploring the West Thumb Geyser Basin, Sulphur Caldron, and Mud Volcano. Like most of the days to follow, it was both an interesting display of vivid colors, beautifully clear pools, gurgling mud pots, and overwhelmingly bad stink.

Deep blue pool at West Thumb Geyser Basin
Eww, that smell.  Bison don't seem to mind, however.
Dragons Mouth Spring, here, let daddy plug that nose for you.
The next day we were off to see Old Faithful, and the rest of the Upper Geyser Basin (of which Old Faithful isn't even the most impressive geyser, just more reliable).  This day was one of the most exciting, with several impressive geyser eruptions and a slightly too close encounter with a couple of bison sorting out their differences (see video link below).

Junior Ranger interactive sign interpretation.
Forgot this one's name, but it was pretty cool.
Old Faithful.
Two bison sorting our their problems.  As we would find out, this was only round one. 
Try not to look nervous.  Unfortunately, the 2nd bison from the above pic shows up and they proceed to go at it again!

The last day in the south loop was spent exploring the Midway Geyser Basin and Lower Geyser Basin.    It was pretty overcast and started raining a bit, so we didn't get to spend as much time exploring as we would have liked.  Also, we didn't have reservations for the next campsite, so we cut the day short so we could find a place to sleep.

A rainbow of colors
Grand Prismatic Springs (we scrambled up the side of a steep hill to get this shot).
Our plan that evening was to stay at Madison Campground, but it, as well as the next couple of campgrounds were all full.  We ended up having to drive about 40 miles out of our way to a National Forest primitive campground about 5 miles outside the northwest gate of Yellowstone.  It turns out that, along with Summer, the Fall elk bugling season is the busiest time of year in Yellowstone.  Each morning was a race to the next campground to try and get a spot before it filled up.

National Forest campground view.  We looked pretty out-of-place among the tents.
Presidents Arch, Yellowstone northwest entrance.
Our next few of days were spent in the town of Mammoth.  I was able to get a good bike ride in, and we had quite the adventure with a herd of elk.

Abigayle receiving the Yellowstone Junior Ranger badge. 
The Mammoth Visitors Center. 
Herd of elk in downtown Mammoth.
Pretty hot springs deposits above Mammoth.
The view down to Mammoth from the hot springs.
While we were taking this shot, we noticed the herd of elk from the above picture had moved in the direction of our motorhome.  Once we hiked back to town, we were (rather unpleasantly) surprised that they had moved to a grassy area right alongside of our RV.  As we watched several cows smelling the drivers side area around the RV, we were hoping that Chloe (our dog), who was sitting in the passenger seat, would remain calm.  The rather aggressive bull that was herding his cows had already rammed one of the National Park vehicles as it drove by, so I didn't want it tearing up the side of my plastic motor home!  I tried to go around to the passenger side to sneak in, but the bull saw me and proceeded to stalk me along the row of cars.  Lucky for me, one of his cows decided to wonder off so he took off to go retrieve her and the whole herd moved on down the road.

Elk guarding the RV.

After Mammoth, we moved on to the Norris Campground.  This was the prettiest campground we stayed at, and we had a great time exploring the Norris Geyser Basin and the Canyon of the Yellowstone River, and spotting wildlife.  In fact, we saw our first grizzly bear, albeit from quite a distance.
Norris Campground view.  We woke up to a bison in the prairie the first morning we were here. 
Chloe striking a pose. 
Norris Geyser Basin.
Coyote munching on a carcass.  The large crowd here said they saw wolves here earlier.
Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
Lower canyon falls (note the people on the platform at the edge of the falls). 
We were proud of Abigayle for hiking up and down this trail. 
Grizzly bear (the black blob on the other side of the river).

No comments:

Post a Comment