July 9, 2009
I’m not sure if I mentioned this and everyone probably already knows this but the majority of the 2.2 million acre Yellowstone National Park sits in a volcanic caldera, the result of a huge volcanic explosion over 630,000 years ago. The earth beneath Yellowstone is in constant turmoil and change. The many steaming geysers, hot springs and thundering waterfalls pay tribute to those ongoing changes. The vistas are the most panoramic and incredible with every area providing new and varying landscapes. This place is a photographer or artists’ dream.
Yellowstone National Park is divided into five countries: Mammoth Country, Roosevelt Country, Canyon Country, Lake Country and Geyser Country. Because of the way it is divided and overlaps we were having a hard time deciding how to tackle it and see everything. Our first thought was do it by countries but we opted to head on down the road and see as much as we could see.
We drove through some of the most beautiful country and had spectacular vistas along the way. We were told we had a great chance of running into bears along the route we were taking and were not disappointed. The first bear we encountered was a beautiful Grizzly Bear up on a hill. He was far enough away not to be a threat but close enough to get a good view of him with binoculars. The second bear was much farther away but we believe it was black bear but could not be sure. The third bear was definitely a black bear and he was in the road right in front of us. He was eating the flowers along the road and seemed oblivious to the cars and people around him. Traffic was backed up on both sides of the road. The final bear of the day we spotted was also along the side of the road and was climbing a tree really fast. We didn’t get a picture of that bear because we were driving too fast. We felt fortunate to see so many bears in one day.
We drove through Hayden Valley, an old lakebed formed when glaciers created a lake during the last Ice Age. Yellowstone River meanders through the valley forming marshes where there are swans and Canada geese. Elk, deer and bison graze in the meadows and bears and wolves live in the surrounding woods.
Then it was on to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. We had never heard of the Yellowstone Grand Canyon so were pleasantly surprised. It is absolutely breathtaking with the turbulent Yellowstone River roaring through the canyon. The rock formations and variety of colors make the canyon feel “unreal” “fake” – not sure what words to use but in person and in pictures the canyon does not look real but like an artists’ painting. It is equally as beautiful and majestic as the Grand Canyon but not as large. The views at every stop were breathtaking and the hundreds of steps we climbed were also breath-taking – away!!!!!
We stopped at Inspiration Point to get a picture of two cascading waterfalls and were unable to get a good spot on the viewing platform. There was a busload of teenagers on the platform and there was no room for anyone else on the 10x7 foot platform. Finally someone moved and the view was definitely inspiring. Walking back to our car we stopped to admire the canyon when a man approached us and said he knew we were from Boston. We had no logo on our clothes indicating Boston so we asked him how he knew that. He told us he knew us and then the light went on. It was our Daughter and Son-in-laws’ friend Chad from Washington. His wife Joyce and son Thomas were in the car so we went to talk to Joyce and see Tommy who was sleeping. What a coincidence! The world is truly a small place when you think of the number of people we know that we have met while on this trip. Then there are the new people that we have met on this trip and have seen and talked to at different stops along the way.
We stopped at Canyon Village Visitor Center and watched two movies about Yellowstone that were both informative and interesting. Within the Canyon are the upper and lower falls that were nothing less then spectacular cascading over the rocks with such incredible force the mist from the falls would sometimes hide the falls.
Our plan of action was to get back to the MH and have dinner before attended the evening Ranger Program. We arrived home at 8 PM and had been out for ten hours. Jewel was not happy with us and I think she is getting cabin fever. Unfortunately this is not a dog friendly park. We do take her out for three of four walks in the campground but the poor girl wants to run. On to the Geysers tomorrow.