Saturday, September 26, 2015

Yellowstone National Park

     I was excited to hit the road this fall equipped with a new Canon DSLR that my boys and husband gave me as an early birthday present.  It has an extra lens that zooms to 300mm, something I sure could have used in Alaska.  But we were headed to another great location for wildlife viewing – Yellowstone National Park.  One nice thing (among many) about being retired is that we can hit the road after most families are back in school and avoid the crowds.  We left on Labor Day and traveled to Lava Hot Springs in Idaho for a day.  The crowds all left on Monday afternoon, and we had the pools almost to ourselves on Tuesday.  Wednesday we stopped for a few hours at the Eastern Idaho State Fair which was lots of fun.  Then we finished the trip up to West Yellowstone where we camped in a RV park in the town.  We walked around town, which is basically all geared for tourists – restaurants and gift shops.
     Thursday we headed in to the loop of Yellowstone that goes to Old Faithful.  Along the way we drove by a beautiful river with fly fishermen and meadows with bison.  We made several stops also at the geysers and geothermal areas with bubbling mud and steam coming out of the ground.  In Yellowstone, the scenery of mountains and trees looks like many other places until you see steam coming out of the earth all over the place.  The stops along the road are often at places that look like another world because of the thermal activity.  Even though it is fall, there were still lots of people everywhere, but at least we were able to get parking spots in the lots.  It must be terribly crowded in summer.  Seeing Old Faithful erupt was pretty awesome.  From there we drove to Yellowstone Lake, crossing the continental divide twice along the way.  Yellowstone Lake is large and a beautiful blue surrounded by woods.  Then we headed back the same way we came.  Getting around in Yellowstone took longer than we expected because of the stops along the way to hike around the thermal areas, plus the “buffalo traffic” where everyone slows down to see the wildlife.  But it sure beats the LA freeway traffic.  At one point I would have had an excelent buffalo photo of one that was charging at our truck, but Chuck thought that getting out of his way was more important. 
     Friday we went another direction in the park to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  The falls there were beautiful as was the canyon itself.  There are several places to park and hike out to get different views of the canyon and falls.  We also drove to one of the valleys that is known for wildlife where we saw the only bear of the trip. He was far out in the meadow, but with my new 30mm lens I was able to get a shot of him. 
     Saturday we drove up to the Mammoth Hot Springs area.  The original rock Fort Yellowstone buildings are there and used for the visitors center.  More interesting rock formations oozing with sulfur smelling water.  We drove back by completing the upper loop (about 120 miles in all) to see more waterfalls and beautiful mountains.  We also saw several elk along the way, but no moose on this trip.
     We intended to use Sunday to see the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in town, but had a change of plans.  A storm with a lot of wind was forecast for Monday, so we decided that we’d better head out ahead of it.  It was a good decision, because we beat the storm in getting home.  I’m sure we’ll be headed to Yellowstone again; it is a vast and beautiful area that we just began to explore.  
Here are just a few of the 250 photos I shot on  this trip.
Fly fishing

bison with geyser field behind

geothermal waters

Old Faithful

grazing elk

Gibbon Falls

more thermal areas

Yellowstone Falls

black bear

resting buffalo

Mammoth Hot Springs

Tower Falls

grazing elk

relaxing elk