Yellowstone National Park

Trip Start Jul 07, 2008
Trip End Aug 09, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I set off this morning for Yellowstone National Park, planning to be there by 10:30am, but once again road work foiled my plan; I arrived just after 12 (still not bad). Looking at the map I received on entry, I figured I could see the sights I was interested in and be gone by 4 or 5. We'll see how that worked out...
The first thing I noticed about Yellowstone is that it's kinda ugly...really! All of the old growth trees are dead and the new growth is still short, so the view is dominated by grey, bare, trunks. The second thing I noticed was that distances on the map are deceiving. What I estimated to be a 15 minute drive was really 40 minutes.
There are so many animals in the park. The very first example (after the dead rodent on the road) was bison, just standing at the side of the road, eating grass, like a common cow. Entire herds of them! Deer and antelope are also common sights.
I got to the geyser areas and I have to say it is really cool. It's like suddenly landing on a different planet - steam shoots and boiling water bubbles and hut mud gurgles from holes in the ground, the earth takes on colours from red to yellow, green to black. There are boardwalks at all of the scenic areas for good reason: in some areas the ground is no more than a 2 inch crust with boiling water just below - to fall through would be (and has been on many occasions) fatal!
Old Faithful lived true to its name and erupted within a couple of minutes of its scheduled time. It is impressive - 4-6000 gallons of water shoot out in less than 4 minutes. Funny though, I was expecting it hear some sort of loud whooshing sound or something, and it is actually really quiet.
The final spot I went to was the most impressive: Artists point at the lower falls. The waterfall is impressive, but it's the canyon walls that are really cool - brilliant reds, pinks, yellows (how Yellowstone got its name!), greens, blues. The heat and steam of the hot springs at the bottom of the canyon caused the minerals in the walls to take on the colours over time. There is a path that goes down about of the way to the bottom - it only means climbing down (and hence, back up!) around 300 stairs. I nearly died...
So my plan to be gone by 4 fell apart. It was after 7 when I finally ended up riding out of the south gate, and I hadn't even seen half of the park. If you are planning to see Yellowstone, bank on at least 2 full days and be prepared for a lot of driving.
I'll continue today's story in the next blog...
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