on November 6, 2012
Our second day at Yellowstone, it took us a long time to get into the park as traffic was badly backed yp due to buffalo on the road - but we did get up close to them I suppose as we drove past. Our first stop for the day was the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, first driving up to Inspiration Point for the view, and then across to Uncle Toms Cabin, from where we walked to Artists Point. There is a path, or should I say steps down to the falls but I skipped these and headed on as I had fallen and hurt my ankle badly and we were planning to hike Mount Washburn the next day so I didn't want to overtax it today with steps. The path was nice and we reached Artists Point for a few photos of the falls before eating our picnic. The falls are nice, and worth a visit. The path also meant we got away from most of the crowds who drive from one outlook to another.We then headed down to see Old Faithful. We parked, and went to get a map and check the times of Old Faithful. I decided that I'd wait for the next time Old Faithful was due to go off, and so went off to the cafe and bought a take away coffee and found a bench to sit and watch. It was interesting that most of the crowd was at the visitors side of the semi-circular viewing area, and fewer at the far end were I was. Old Faithful may not me as faithful as once but it is still reasonable regular, though it was 10 minutes later when I was there than the Park Service's calculation. It kept bubbling and steaming and I was on tenderhooks at several points but then it would calm down again. It finally went off it was quite spectular as water shot up, and the noise it made was unexpected.After it went off, most visitors headed back into the visitors centre, few ventured out up Geyser Hill to see the other features of the valley, with bubbling waters, steam rising, sulphur spewing, coloured pools. The range were quite amazing of the differences. Some geysers are frequent, others infrequent, some regular others sporadic. Castle Geyser was steaming away, while Grotto Geyser was gurgling and steaming. Some of the smaller features are interesting as well. Then I loved Beauty and Chromatic Pools, the colours caused by thermophiles were beautiful, but while Morning Glory is often lauded I thought the other two more stunning. Then Sawmill Geyser was gushing water out some of it onto the boardwalk going past it, so you had to time your walk by it so not to get soaked. It was well worth the walk to see all these features, and it seems few visitors venture out to see them. They see Old Faithful and then spend time in the visitors centre and shops (which were busy). We headed back to the Visitors Centre and explored the exhibit there which was colourful and bright. And then a short wander around the shops before heading back to camp for dinner.The next day we planned an early start, we planned to hike Mount Washburn. On driving up to the pass, we saw a bear in one of the meadows below the road. Now the altitude made this hike tough, but the views over the park were incredible. Most people who stop in the car park walk a little up the hill to get to a view point...but this is a rough path and a fair amount of a climb. Most of the path in June was clear of snow though we did hit one tricky snow bank (I slipped on it coming back and decided as my bum was already wet and cold it was as easy to slide along some it). My ankle started to give grief about 3/4 of the way up, so while the rest went on, one took pity on me and turned back with me and I hobbled my walk back. We reached the car park and found a spot in the sun (as it was cool at this altitude) to enjoy some food. There were some amazing views even as far as I went, but you need to be prepared for a hike...it is steep and a rough track, and you'll need to bring lots of water too...but worth it!We headed down to Canyon Village, and wathced the film in the Visitors centre, and a wander around the exhibits - and this place was really good. Lots of information about the geology, that Yellowstone is really a supervolcano, with the park situated in a caldera formed by a previous explosion. It explained that volcanic activity below created geothermic features here as the magma was closer to the surface here than in most other places. Well worth a stop!We headed onto Norris Geyser Basin. It is home to the world's tallest geyser - Steamboat...but with my ankle being sore I walked around the Porcelian Basin, so coloured due to its white colour. Norris has a high water temperature so there are more steam features here. The white colour makes this place look very alien, combined with hissing steam and coloured water running off. Black Growler Steam Vent is the first feature you'll hear and see on walking down in to the basin it was so loud in its roars. It is an active valley, you can see even small features forming with just a few bubbles.We saw a fair amount of Yellowstone in 2 1/2 days. It was well worth the visit. Some how in my head I was expecting more spectular scenery but the geothermal features more than made up for that, because they were more stunning and interesting than I had anticipated. It was also quite an educational experience as well. But when you stood and looked out at the scenery- the blue Lake Yellowstone, the roar Falls, the bison and bears in the meadows, the dancing flowers spreading colour - it is easy to forget that all these geothermal features are due to the fact of supervolcano beneath you feet.
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