Day 2: Yellowstone

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by two cruisers on March 22, 2012

Road construction again this morning with no elk to excite us. A Park Ranger was stationed alongside the road. Rumor had it that a moose and mooseling were in the vacinity, but we didn't see them. The Ranger was packing heat, don't know if that was to protect the public from moose stompings or to protect the moose from the tourist. We are entertaining the thought of staying inside the park next time. At Madison we turned north. The main attraction between here and Mammoth Hot Springs are thermal grounds. Some of my photos look like the aftermath of a forest fire, but actually it is steam venting through the ground and giving a very spooky look to the forest. The grasses aound the boiling stream had a pinkish cast. I think they must be colored by a similiar bacteria to what we saw at the geysers, yesterday. The place we stopped had a very long walk up a slope and then up a hill to a boiling stream. This is truly worth the walk. But at that point Bill returned to the car. I started up the hill, but soon turned back. This altitude business is rough on low landers.
Another stop we made was at the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. They do not have the beauty of other thermal ground areas. Perhaps it is because they are so large, there isn't contrast with normal grassy covered land. Glad we drove the loop, but doing the walks seemed like a lot of walking for little change in scenery.
Lunch stop in Mammoth Hot Springs provided the rest and hydration we needed. We found a fast food economical place the Terrace Grille. It was very popular and very crowded. Be patient, you don't have many other choices and it tasted good. Next door was a gift shop that also sold some food treats. We walked down to the Hotel shop about a block away. Shopping was limited, but we got to inspect one of those yellow Yellowstone Tour Buses up close. Sure looks like fun. All and all, Mammoth Hot Springs isn't hopping with activity like Old Faithful. I doubt if we would come this way again...except...its how you get to the Lamar Valley.
We had been told Lamar Valley was where the bears and bison hang out. We needed to be there early in the day for the bears, but boy-o-boy did we see bison! At our first sighting we bailed out of the car practically before it stopped running, camera in hand I took position and shot off a series of pictures. Reviewing them it looked like a small fleck of brown in the open field. We had been warned not to get close, but this was way to far away, Back to the car, we went just a few miles down the road and traffic was stopped on the roadway. Bison were everywhere. It was almost as if the head bison was a conductor on a train moving from car to car to punch our tickets. (Conductors did that when I rode trains in my youth, don't suppose that happens now!). It was an exciting afternoon. Bison frolicked, sauntered, played statues, and even wallowed in the dust for our entertainment.
Still searching for the paintpots that I was so impressed with in my 1958 trip, we drove toward Canyon Village and beyond. Took a waterfall break at Tower Falls. That was so pretty. We had considered going to the more popular falls up the road, but the parking lot was dangerously full. The highway we were on took us over the highest point in the park. It was very interesting to see how the change between forested areas and above the tree line. We did find the Mud Volcano and Sulfur Caldron. They were interesting but not as pretty as what I remembered. Someone suggested they may have been transformed by the Big Earthquake or disappeared. I looked for a Ranger to tell me but apparently they are all out on moose protection duty.
We didn't walk as much today, but we covered lots of territory and gratefully returned to West Yellowstone and a good nights rest.

Yellowstone National Park
Headwaters of the Yellowstone River
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 82190
(307) 344-7381

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