Bozeman and Yellowstone National Park

Trip Start Jun 13, 2006
Trip End Jun 12, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Montana
Thursday, August 17, 2006

Alex: Bozeman was our entry point for Yellowstone and we discovered the downside of small "cities" in the middle of the US right away, the only buses to come in and go out of Bozeman are at around 3am! We met a couple of people on the bus, one, Drew, who helped us find the Hostel and German Daniel who is going to hitch a lift into Yellowstone with us (we are hiring a car).

After getting into the hostel at 4am, having a well needed kip we spent our first day wandering around Bozeman which seemed quite a cool little town with lots of boutiques and nice shops and sorted our hire car out for the next couple of days.

With the hire car we had 3 major problems - the steering wheel was on the wrong side of the car, we were expected to drive on the wrong side of the road and there was no gear stick - but we soon got used to it.

Yellowstone was amazing (as you may be able to tell by all the photos we took). The road through the park is basically in a figure of 8 so we did the lower loop on the first day and the upper loop on the second. The lower loop pretty much is the caldera of the Yellowstone volcano so we got to see a lot of geothermal activity (and buffalo). We hadn't been driving long before we came across the lower geyser basin. In about a kilometer walk we saw the fountain paint pots, a bubbling mud hot spring, hot spring pools and a geyser. The colours are amazing the sulphur orange and yellows, the blues of the spring water, the browns of the mud and the eerie white mineral deposits. We skipped the middle geyser basin and went straight to Old Faithful which currently blows about every 92 minutes, we had a bit of a wait but it was worth it unfortunately though our well chosen spot out of the wind failed at the last minute and we got soaked in sulphur smelling old faithful spray (which was surprisingly cold as it has been boiling moments before).

The next stop was Yellowstone lake which was huge and surrounded by more hot springs. The odd thing is that all these springs are within meters of each other but everyone is a different colour, and not just slightly different, one will be a dark orangy colour and the one next to it is bright blue. They really are beautiful and I got quite snap happy - the photos we loaded are less than half the photos we took!

We finally understood how Yellowstone got its name when we stopped at Artist point which is a lookout over what is called the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and the Lower Falls at the end of the canyon. The rocks were yellow, not just a hint of yellow but a really bright colour. The photos we loaded don't do it justice, it really was spectacular.

Our final stop was more Geothermal activity at the Mud Volcano. This was actually a bit disappointing after the rest of the day and VERY smelly! There was a lot of bubbling mud, some more than others but nothing that deserves the name Mud Volcano, I think there was once but these things are constantly changing.

Our second day was less geothermal. We came in via the north entrance which was very pretty, especially with the early morning sun and then picked Daniel up (who had camped in the park - very cold apparently). We decided it would be a good idea to walk up another mountain, spectacular views but knackering, also our camera batteries ran out at the top and the spares were at the bottom so we didn't get too many photos. Mt Washburn is at the north of the caldera so pretty much all we could see from one side was a super-volcano crater! Next stop was Tower falls, which were pretty but waterfalls are waterfalls, and had a walk down to a beach by Yellowstone river, which I can confirm is very cold, also a bit smelly (sulphur again) and more Yellow stone.

We couldn't end the trip with out a final geothermal sight so we went to Mammoth hot springs. These are hot springs which have kind of terraced themselves. Difficult to explain (see the photos) but the minerals have built up and formed steps and pools. As it was summer some had dried up and turned white, a weird cross between snow and a lunar landscape and those that were still running were white and orange, very odd but strangely beautiful and again a little pungent.

After heading out of the park we went back to the hostel to pick up our bags and kill a bit of time before catching our 3.30am bus to Salt Lake City. As with all Greyhounds we arrived 1 hour earlier to discover Bozeman at night is freezing. 3.30 am came and went. The 6 of us waiting were getting more than a little frustrated and colder by the second. We were entertained for a little while by a handy guitar playing passenger-to-be/singer-song-writer and also the red neck girl from California who had just been deserted in Bozeman by her boyfriend (Dean: she was an ex-stripper though!!!). We phoned Greyhound at 5.00am who told us the bus would be another hour and a half, as we put the phone down the bus promptly turned up! Hey-ho.

Salt Lake City had better be worth it.......

Dean: Yellowstone Park is/was the reason I have always wanted to visit the USA (along with seeing the giant redwood trees) and I wasn't disappointed. It was excellent - stunning scenery, lots of wildlife, and packed full of giothermal activity. If we need to go home now, I'll still be happy!
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