Thursday, October 11, 2007

Roadtrip 1995 - Part 7: Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is a beautiful park. Unfortunately my strongest memory of the park was driving across the park stuck between R.V.s. It seemed like it took a long time to get anywhere in the park. Everywhere I went hundreds of slow moving Winnebagos tried their best to slow me down and they often succeeded. It didn't help that several roads in the park were closed forcing visitors to detour around to get to places.

I was staying in Gardiner near the north entrance of the park. The first day I headed south looking for Old Faithful. I stopped along the way to see hot springs and bubbling mud and all the other things that remind us that Yellowstone is an active volcanic region.

I decided to do a short hike. I did the Mystic Falls trail, a short but interesting trail that took you past a large burn area. The devastation was creepy but there were signs of life everywhere. The new tree growth was just over waste high at the time. The trail climbed the side of a hill. At one viewing point you could see various geysers, including old faithful, spewing steam and erupting in the distance. It was pretty cool. I also saw a lot of wildlife: Elk, a coyote, and swans. No bears though.

After the hike I drove to
Old Faithful and watched the geyser do its thing. Looked just like the pictures and was right on time.

On the way to the Canyon Village area, traffic slowed to a crawl as a herd of
Bison decided to cross the road ... one at a time. A bison would walk out to the middle of the road and stop. The other bison would line up behind this one and not move until the leader decided to slowly saunter off to the other side. This went on for a half hour or so. I think they did it on purpose just to irritate me.


I finally made it to Canyon Village and did a hike. The hike was a 6.0 mile loop to Ribbon Lake and Clear Lake that went through prairie with Bison in the distance before going into the forest. I reached a campground which was supposed to be at the junction to a trail that would take me back to the trailhead. I was a little disappointed in the signage as I was confused to where I needed to go. There were several trails leaving the campsite. I took one path and found myself on the edge the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The views were awesome but it wasn't the way I was looking for. I took another trail and it turned out to be the correct one. The trail winds through the trees. There was supposed to be a side trail to some pools or ponds but I missed it completely.

The path eventually came out into a clearing filled with bubbling mud. It was really neat. I took some pictures and carefully walked around them. I have heard stories of people getting too close and falling through the thin crust into the boiling mud - not a good thing to do unless you want to know what a lobster feels like.


The trail eventually brought me back to my car and I drove to nearby Inspiration Point where I watch foolish children walking precariously close to canyon's edge. This is the same kind of family that puts honey on their children's face so they can get a picture of the bear 'kissing' junior.

The next day I drove over to the west entrance of the park and went to an IMAX movie about the park. I then made my way out the south entrance of the park. I had been on the road for two weeks up to this point and I was also a getting tired so I didn’t plan this stay well. I missed quite a lot. I will have to return someday with the wife. Yellowstone pictures can be found
here.

I took the short drive to
Grand Teton NP. The Grand Tetons were not on my original itinerary but, due to the changes I had made on the fly I had a few extra days. I decided to spend a day there before going to Rocky Mountain NP. I spent the night in Jackson, WY.

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