Beauty Surrounds - Yellowstone National Park

Trip Start Jul 13, 2009
Trip End Oct 07, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Wednesday, September 2, 2009

We had a great drive up to Yellowstone through Cody, alongside the Buffalo Bill Reservoir and through the East Entrance. The scenery to the park and what met us inside was spectacular. We had to keep stopping to look as we got around each corner. We were met with a Bison (the first Adi or I had ever seen) walking up the middle of the road. They are big and sturdy animals and quite impressive. Through the Hayden Valley we met with our first Yellowstone traffic jam. There was a herd of Bison all over the place including on the road. A ranger came along and tooted very loudly which ended up shifting them and the traffic started to flow again. It had been another long driving day and we reached Canyon Lodge and Cabins at about 17:00. We took a drive around the village and went shopping for groceries at the store, locating the coffee shop at the same time. Our cabin was rustic but better than expected. It had been months since we booked it so I was thinking it was going to be a shared bathroom, but no, we had our own. I was quite happy with that. As we were tired we ate in. Sandwiches were the order of the day along with a couple of beers.

On our first day we decided to head to Old Faithful as it had to be done, but firstly stopped in at the Visitor Center at Canyon Lodge to get Trail maps and sign up for a ranger lead walk. The ranger lead walks had finished the previous week which was a shame as they would have been very informative, however, reading about them gave us an idea of which walks we wanted to do. On the drive down to Old Faithful we passed Yellowstone Lake which is vast and beautiful. We got to Old Faithful at lunchtime and had to wait about 45 minutes for Old Faithful Geyser to blow. We wandered around the basin on the boardwalk and ended up finding a seat and having lunch whilst waiting for Old Faithful. It was an impressive sight when it blew boiling water over 100 feet in the air. After that we drove to Fairy Falls car park and started out on our walk. The walk in was really nice and when we arrived at Fairy Falls we saw some little creatures running around. I think they were ground squirrels or marmots. Very cute to watch. After seeing the falls we walked on to Imperial Geyser which was even more special than Old Faithful. It was in a turquiose blue thermal lake and it kept erupting with the sunshine making the droplets of water sparkle. Absolutely beautiful and we were the only people there! You definitely can't say that about Old Faithful. The other cool occurance was we saw a little snake on the path. The first time I have ever seen a snake in the wild. We crossed the Imperial Meadow and back down Fountain Flat Drive. It was getting towards dusk when we arrived back at the car. We started the trail at 15:00 and ended up walking about 8 miles with stopping to watch wildlife and the natural beauty, getting back at about 19:00. The drive back to the cabin had us watching the sunset across Lake Yellowstone followed by an impressive moon rising.

The next day we were off to the Hayden Valley for the Mary Mountain walk. We had planned to be at the start for 08:00 but it was more like 09:00. We had to skirt around a couple of bison at the beginning of the trail and had to pick our way through rather boggy, marshy ground covering our shoes in mud! I did try to pick my way through but to no avail. My new shoes were dirty by the end of the trail. We walked about 3 mile in to where another trail heads to Violet Springs. It wasn't easy to follow as bison had knocked down some of the trail markers! On the way back we spotted a coyote in the distance and while we were busy watching it, another coyote crossed directly in front of our path. We stopped and watched for about 20 minutes as they hunted and ate. It was great watching them pounce. We decided we had to leave them be and carried on back without any other excitement. It was 14:00 by the time we got back and we decided to rest in the cabin for a while and ended up falling asleep. Adi and I decided coffee was called for and then we drove up just passed Tower Junction. Another great drive with spectacular scenery. I know I can't keep going on about it but it was so unique and special to dicover Yellowstone. The Cascade Overlook was really cool. We headed back hoping to see a bear on the Dunraven Pass but none decided to show themselves.

On our last full day we chose to have a driving day to try and cover as much as the park as possible with a short walk in the late afternoon. Just as we left Canyon Village we saw a herd of Mule deer grazing. As we set off again we got 2 minutes down the road and a bear ran out in front of us and high tailed it into the woods. Adi and I couldn't believe it but we were very excited. Unfortunately he was gone that fast we didn't get a photo but it was cool to see. At Norris we stopped of to see the largest geyser in Yellowstone, Steamboat Geyser (that only erupts every 4-5 years). We also saw Echinus Geyser which is the largest acidic geyser. From there we passed Roaring Mountain and ended up at Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. Canary Springs was very colourful. It leaves you in awe at how old it is and how it was formed and wondering how it was back when more water was flowing. We drove along to the North East entrance and passed shortly into Montana. The drive was nice following the streams through the Lamar Valley. We saw loads of Pronghorn. After a while we headed back and stopped off at Yellowstone River for lunch. We headed back to Mammoth Hot Springs and saw storms starting to come in. As it was 16:00 we decided to go for it. In the town centre we passed 2 elk. One was a male with impressive antlers. The Beaver Ponds Loop was really beautiful but we had to hurry it as we heard lightning and weren't keen on being up high if that came our way. We felt it was a much better trail than the Hayden Valley walk. We just got a few spots of rain when we were coming back down. As we had seen beavers in Alaska we weren't too worried that we didn't get to spend more time at the ponds. After the hike it was getting late so we headed back to camp as we were up early the following day. On the drive we decided to head up to the base of the Mt Washburn trailhead and the views were great. We just wished we had more time to do more hikes.

First thing we needed a decent coffee and then we were outward bound from Yellowstone National Park. The route we chose was through Grand Teton just so we could get a feel for that park. It definitely wasn't all over for Yellowstone surprises though as we drove the North Rim of the Yellowstone Grand Canyon and wow. It was stunning and we were glad we didn't miss it (especially as it was right beside Canyon Village). Arriving at West Thumb we stretched our legs and walked the thermal basin. After a spot of breakfast we hit the road again and headed out through the South Entrance into Grand Teton National Park.

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