Thursday, July 16, 2009

Yellowstone Adventures

Tuesday was our travel day from Big Timber to West Yellowstone.  We’d discussed several different routes and studied maps and Google Earth.  Finally, we combined the advice we’d received, and headed west on I-90 as far as Bozeman, where we took off on 191 south.  But instead of staying on that road all the way to West Yellowstone, we cut over on Montana 84 and then to US 287 south to Montana 87, and finally to US 20 where we passed by the north side of Henry’s Lake before arriving at Lionshead RV Resort, 7 miles west of West Yellowstone.  We checked in a little after 11 a.m., and by just after 1:00, we were at the gate of the park.

Not far into the park, I spotted a bald eagle in the trees not far off the road:


IMG_8914 Then I saw the nest with the baby eagle’s head poking up:


IMG_8913 That was a good start to our first exploration of the park.  The woman who checked us in at the rv park said the best place to spot wildlife would be the upper section of the north loop of the park, so that’s where we headed.  We figured that, since the weather was cool and cloudy, and we’d arrive late in the day, that we might have a chance to see some animals.

Of course, we had to stop to view some hot springs on the way!  Dortha and Jim walking along the boardwalk at one of them:


The blue water looks beautiful, but oh so hot at Beryl Spring!


Our next stop was at what’s called paint pots, because of the varied colors found in the soil, mud and water in the hot springs.  This is a view from the top of the walkway we climbed:

IMG_8954  We continued on the north loop and eventually got to Mammoth Hot Springs, where we took a little drive around the top tier loop and found some beautiful rock formations:

IMG_8982 At Mammoth, we were at the top of the north loop.  It was getting late in the afternoon, and with the weather was cool and cloudy, it was just the right conditions for spotting elusive wildlife, like this bull elk:

IMG_9000 Just a little ways further, we spotted another group of cars stopped by the side of the road.  Note to people who’ve yet to visit Yellowstone:  Anytime you see a group of cars parked either in the middle or along the sides of the road, that’s your clue that some wildlife is nearby!  So we pulled over and got to see this bull moose:

IMG_9013_1 We’ve since discovered that spotting a large bull moose like this is very rare!  We feel really fortunate to have experienced this guy!

Further along the road we climbed a mountain pass, and along that way, sure enough, there was another group of cars pulled over.  This time, we got to see this grizzly bear up on the side of the slope:

IMG_9035 Those are the highlights of our first afternoon in Yellowstone.  It was truly amazing to see all these animals.

If there’s a downside to the outings in the park, its that we are taking so many pictures, we hardly have time to download them before we’re off on another adventure!

Even though I realize I’m behind on posting our activities, I’m going to save our next adventures for another day.


Joe and Sherri said...

How cool this is. Love the pictures keep them coming

Gordon said...

Of course, I'm sure you being seasoned westerners that you realize all the surface hot water activity found around Yellowstone is from it being the caldera of a supervolcano. :-)

Some geologists even theorize that based on the frequency of its last 3 supereruptions (violent enough to bring on global winter) they feel Yellowstone is overdue for another eruption. Of course, I wouldn't let that influence my stay there, but if it does happen to erupt before you leave and blows you into the upper atmosphere, I trust you'll get photos of it.

Interesting reading...

Seriously, I’m terribly envious of your bull moose photo, but do think you should have tried to get closer to that grizzly and not stopped until you could see the whites of its eyes. Closeup photos are so much more impressive.

Of course, I only say that because I’m terribly envious you saw a grizzly at all. The fact it was on your first trip into the park is depressing.

Anyway, I’m happy for you seeing so much wildlife in such a short time and envy you being able to be there. Just remember though, next grizzly sighting, get a really good closeup for me. Standing on its rear feet with upper claws extended and with bared snarling teeth saying ‘cheese’ would be good. :-)

AJ3 said...

I have been in YNP atleast 50 times and have never seen a grizzly bear. Many black bears but never a grizzly. You were truly blessed....

Another thought is checking out the EarthQuake Lake area near Hebgen lake. The visitor center is excellent and really does a good job of what happened that fateful day.

Are you going to do the beartooth pass? It is outside cooke city. Maybe not in the motorhome...It's bout 13,000ft if i remember right.