Thursday, July 23, 2009

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Some days, I find it hard to write about what we do because it’s just so awesome that putting it into words and pictures seems so inadequate.  I think today was one of those days. 

First, as I was walking the dogs this morning,  I caught a glimpse of a doe elk crossing a road just behind the rv park.  That was quite a sight!  I had a feeling then that today would be a good one.

The plan for the day was to go into the park and explore the upper and lower falls in what’s known as the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  Dortha and I put together a quick picnic lunch with what we had on hand.  We still needed to make a quick stop at the grocery in town on our way to the park.  With three grandchildren visiting Mark and Dortha, food goes quickly.  We got to the park entrance a little after 10. 

If you’ve gone in the West Entrance to the park, you may have experienced seeing the bald eagle’s nest just a few miles from the entrance.  This morning, the traffic slowed to a crawl and then a stop long before we got to the nest.  We never could figure out why it took nearly an hour and a half to get through to see this adult bald eagle on the nest.  People just stop in the middle of the road instead of pulling over to the side to let others pass.  But we always like to get a new picture when we can.  We think there is a fish on the edge of the nest, but we can’t tell for sure:

IMG_9314We got through that bottleneck and continued on.  In another section of the park, they are doing road construction, and they have traffic down to one lane.  We thought we got lucky there this morning, as we got to the construction zone, our lane was moving along.  But, about halfway through, we once again got slowed to a crawl and then a stop.  Finally, we cleared the construction, and just as we passed the flag-person, Zachary called out that there was a wolf!  Yes, there was – but we got only a glimpse as we passed by, and couldn’t get a picture, this time.   Maybe next time.

Only another 30 or so miles to the canyon and the falls.  By the time we got in the area, we were ready for that lunch.  We stopped at a picnic area and had our sandwiches before continuing the exploration.

The picnic area was right by the Yellowstone River, just a little upstream from the falls and the canyon.  This picture is looking upstream:

IMG_9461 Zachary and Lauren were happy to be running around after lunch:

IMG_9455 Just after we pulled out of the picnic area and were on the way to the first lookout, we saw this fellow having his lunch:

IMG_9341 Time to explore! The sign explains that the canyon is from 800 to 1200 feet in depth and 1500 to 4000 feet wide and about 24 miles long.  The color in the rocks is from hot spring activity that alters the lava rock:

IMG_9501 We first went to the Artists Point on the south rim to view the lower falls:


IMG_9482 Andrew and Lauren enjoy the view of the canyon:


We made our way to a couple of other viewpoints before returning to where we could see the upper falls:

IMG_9509Finally we were explored out, and started the journey back.  One thing about Yellowstone National Park, with over 2 million acres, it takes a long time to get anywhere!  We always know it will be a long day, even if we only plan to see one area, because it just takes a while to drive anywhere.

Finally, we exited the park and headed west on US 20 towards the rv park.  About half-way there, Jim said, “What’s that?”

Well, this is what that was:

IMG_9393a Why did the black bear cross the road?

IMG_9399Because the grass was greener on the other side!

What a day!


Pat and Mike said...

Nice pictures, Ellie. What an awesome place. We were there about 10 years ago and had a blast. We didn't get to see any bears, tho. :-( I ordered my Garmin 400t yesterday. Should be here in a few days. I got a pretty good deal on it. I can't wait.
Have fun!!

Tumbleweed Dee said...

BEAR! What luck, Thanks for posting the pictures, great views.