Lot of Action Today

Trip Start Aug 15, 2008
Trip End Aug 22, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Monday, August 18, 2008

One our way to breakfast early this morning, the first thing we noticed was a giant mound of bison poop outside of our neighbor's porch.  If it would have been outside our porch, I most certainly would have stepped in it.  As we have learned, I do not watch where I am walking.  After breakfast, we went down to the marina to rent a boat to explore Yellowstone Lake.

We rented an 18-foot aluminum, outboard boat, and we spent about two hours exploring the Lake, which perhaps we should have mentioned is very large.  The Lake is 20 miles long and 14 miles across at its widest point.  The views of the surrounding, snow-capped mountains were incredible.  Oh, and speaking of snow, I should also tell you that 6 weeks ago, the Lake was still frozen over.  Needless to say, the water was not warm.
We spotted some wildlife - ducks, cormorants, pelicans and cliff swallows.  I also managed to spot way off in the distance some steam-pots right on the shore of the Lake (at which point I asked everyone to refer to me as Eagle-Eye).  We cruised on over, and sure enough, saw Steamboat Springs, a group of four thermal steam springs right on the shore of the lake.  We then circled around Stevenson Island, an island in the middle of the lake named after the first man thought to climb Grand Teton, James Stevenson.  If you look very closely at one of the pictures of the ridgeline, you can see the Tetons in the background!

After we brought the boat back in, we rode up the road to Fishing Bridge Village, ate lunch, and continued our way north.  Along the way, we stopped at LeHardy's Rapids, a whitewater portion of the Yellowstone River.  We walked along the rapids, and Matthew spotted some cutthroat trout in the water.  I spent most of the time taking pictures of all the wildflowers on the shore (sometimes I can be such a girl!).

Next, we were off to the Mud Volcano.  This area of Yellowstone is fairly young, having been "born" in the 1970s.  The whole area was hot and reeked of sulphur.  We saw some really cool albeit gross stuff.  Check out the videos.  And while at the Mud Volcano area, we spotted our first (of many) Yellowstone bison!  They were pretty much just wallowing in the muddy stink.  They appeared to love it.  This has led us to hypothesize that bison must smell disgusting. 

Not two minutes north of the Mud Volcano area, the entire landscape abruptly shifts.  We had entered the Hayden Valley.  The valley is ridiculously picturesque, with the ever so blue Yellowstone River gently winding through.  Bison are everywhere.  On the hillside.  In the river.  And in the middle of the road.  Right in front of our car!  I was terrified they were going to ram us.  Luckily, they left us alone.  As we were driving through, Beck managed to spot a coyote right on the side of the road.  We pulled off, and watched as it stalked, and ultimately ate, its prey (we are guessing it was a rodent of some kind.  Or at least I am telling myself it was a rodent, because we have also seen a lot of super cute chipmunks here in Yellowstone, and if the coyote ate one of them, I would be crushed).  It was like a nature show right outside our car.  Awesome.

Finally, we made our way up to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  We drove up to Artist's Point, which is named for all the colors on the canyon walls.  We saw both the Lower and Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River, and they were incredible.  At this point, we were all pretty zapped, so we climbed back into the car, longing to get back to the Lodge to eat dinner.  Not so fast, said the hundreds of bison roaming the Hayden Valley.  It took us about 45 minutes to travel 19 miles simply because so many bison kept standing in the middle of the road!   The video is hilarious!

Well, I know this post has been very long, so you can imagine how tired we are.   Off to bed now...
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