West Yellowstone, Montana: You know things are changing fast when you wake early on Friday to run before it gets too hot, and by Tuesday you are waiting… and drinking coffee… and waiting… hoping the temperature will rise about 40 and the fog will lift enough for you to go on a run.
I told you we were expecting interesting weather on this trip.
We did run this morning and then hit the road around 10 o’clock into Yellowstone National Park to drive the northern loop through the park. It was still cold and foggy, but by eleven o’clock we were able to remove one layer of clothing. Luckily we wore layers too – they went on and off all day! No rain, to speak of, today.
Would you believe we saw a grizzly bear today in Gibbon Meadow? We did! And you will just have to believe me too, because the bear was too far away for a photo – but he (I am thinking he because of the large size and the bear was solo) was beautiful. Only our second “in the wild” grizzly.
We stopped at nearly every turn-out and drove nearly every scenic drive on our loop tour today. Yellowstone National Park is absolutely stunning in August (if you ignore all the people!).
The wildflowers are abundant too.
We spent a little time around the Mammoth Hot Springs area. Seriously, it was so crowded, I was beginning to become a little agoraphobic – but DT took me to one of my favorite features in Yellowstone and I calmed right down.
Orange Spring Mound. Isn’t that just the most interesting thing you have seen all day? The mound is about 20 feet tall. The water bubbling up from this spring is cooler (157°) than most in the Mammoth area, allowing more algae and other organisms to grow. Thus the very vibrant colors.
This photo was taken at the base of Orange Mound. A thin coating of steamy mineral water is constantly cascading over the deposits. It looks – and sounds – so pretty.
This was the view from our picnic lunch stop (tuna sandwiches). Overlooking a meadow, a lake and the Gallatin Mountains! How lucky can we get? (Very. Some of that chocolate from The Chocolat Bar in Boise was consumed too.)
We spent most of the afternoon in the Norris Geyser Basin. The National Parks Service has built miles and miles of boardwalk over the basin as it is alive with bubbling pools, geysers, mud pots, steam vents and other assorted geological and seismic features that you probably would not want to walk over. Scary beautiful. An afternoon in the Norris Geyser Basin reminds you Mother Nature is in charge.
Most of the scenery is similar to the photo above. If you do not like the smell of sulphur, don’t visit this basin. It absolutely reeks. Reminded me of our neighborhood in Taipei, which was ripe (pun intended) with sulphuric mineral hot springs. Actually, since there was a tour bus filled with Taiwanese visiting the basin, I felt right at home.
The overlook at Cistern Springs is a good example of the boardwalks built over the Norris Geyser Basin.
This is Steamboat Geyser. It is the largest geyser in the world. It erupts to 300-400 feet! Makes Old Faithful look like a leak in your garden hose. But Steamboat Geyser is not faithful by any means. She erupts every four days to every FIFTY YEARS! Today Steamboat Geyser was only burping… about ten feet every three or four minutes. Ho-hum. When Steamboat blows, she sends a fine coating of silica for a mile!
This little bunny lives in the midst of all this geological chaos.
One of the prettiest – and clearest – pools is Emerald Spring. Though Emerald Spring looks so inviting, the water is 172°. (We keep our hot tub at 104°.)
Most of the geysers and springs sport these little wooden signs. Pearl Geyser is aptly named – it is one of the few milky-colored pools in the basin.
Here is a little video for your viewing pleasure:
Are ya’ll feeling sorry The Lovely Lisa gave me the Flip Ultra-HD Camcorder? I will keep practicing and hopefully my cinematic skills will improve.
And so we headed back to West Yellowstone, Montana. There is a large crew working on road construction between Norris and Madison. The road along the Gibbon River is being moved! Pretty rock walls are being built on either side of the road. Your tax dollars at work!
We arrived back to our campsite at 6p – our earliest night all week. We took a walk through town and poked our heads in a few shops. Didn’t buy a thing, but enjoyed window shopping and people watching. I made dinner tonight (fourth night in a row!) and we watched the Mariners win and a steady-stream of fellow campers drive to the garbage bin in this RV resort. Come on, people. Do you really have to drive your garbage fifty steps?
Until my next update, I remain, your sulphuric correspondent.
RV Park: Grizzly RV Park. We feel this is the best big-rig park for a visit to Yellowstone. Just outside the west gate, the park has 50-amp pull-through and back-in sites. Wifi, laundry, bathhouse, playground, dog walk area, store – everything you will need, plus all the amenities of West Yellowstone, Montana – post office, shops, groceries, restaurants, tour companies, museums, etc. We are paying $48 per night.