Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More of Fabulous Yellowstone & the Grand Tetons

On day three of our Yellowstone visit we awoke to cloudy skies and a bit of rain. We were not deterred and explored the Northern part of the park loop road passed Mount Washburn to Mammoth Hot Springs. We were rewarded with more spectacular scenes of nature.

We encountered our first wolf jam and got to see a large wolf far off in the distance. One of the watchers let all of us have a close up look with his spotter scope and I got this blurry picture as this lone wolf walked through the high meadow. This was an animal that was high on our must see list, as the last time we were here in 1977 there were no wolves. Their reintroduction in 1995 means that all animals that were here in 1872 when the park was establish are here today. This project was not without controversy, but from what we saw later it was the correct decision.
Buffalo Jam. Buffalo are the most seen large animal in the park and we encountered many buffalo during our stay often blocking the road as they meandered slowly along. This big guy and another one, after wallowing in the dust, made passing threats at each other before moving on. These huge animals appear to be very gentle but they cause more injuries to stupid tourists than any other in the park. They can run very fast and can jump most fences with ease.

The overcast skies added to the surreal look of the Mammoth Hot Springs. These massive springs of hot water and calcium carbonate have formed the ever changing colorful, steaming terraces.

While we did see some s**w this is a white terrace with a hot water falls. The sign warned "Danger Hot Water Will Scald" and even I did not want to test the waters as you could feel the heat just walking the paths through the springs.

This is one of the older formations at the top of the terraces. This is a really neat, beautiful area that should be on your must see list.

Norris Geyser Basin has many spouting geysers including the Steamboat geyser, the world's largest. This giant erupts at irregular intervals of days or years so we did not wait for the show. This is another place where the colors have changed because of the idiots who throw junk into the water. Go Figure!!!

That evening we enjoyed a wonderful meal at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel which has been renovated to its original 1891 grandeur. It was a great time with great friends. We do love having our friends visit us so we can share a bit of our wonderful lifestyle.

Driving back to the campground from dinner we had both a bear and buffalo jam. This mama grizzle and her cub were within about 25 feet of the car. She was standing to see what all the ruckus was about as all the cars in both directions were stopped on Fishing Bridge because a big herd of buffalo were stampeding around all the vehicles through traffic to cross the bridge. After she saw what was happening she and the cub ran up the hill and out of the way. The picture is not very good because it was dark and I was so excited that I failed to get any pictures of the buffalo. I think we have seen so many that at the moment I did not think I needed more buffalo pictures but it was quite a show.

The next day we traveled South out of Yellowstone down the John D. Rockefeller, Jr Memorial Parkway to Grand Teton National Park. The parkway includes 24,000 acres of land that was donated by Rockefeller to connect the one grand ecosystem of the Tetons and Yellowstone. The Grand Tetons offer the most beautiful mountain scene in the US with peaks that raise to 13,770 feet above Lake Jackson at 6,772 feet. Being face to face with 7000 feet of mountain is an experience that is only seen in a few places in the world.

Everywhere you look there is a spectacular view of these impressive mountains that are jutting out of the lake and valley to form the impressive chain.

The Chapel of Transfiguration an Episcopalian Church. The window behind the altar frames the beautiful view of the Tetons. The minister had better be great to get his flock to focus on his words and not the beautiful scene behind him. We had to wait to get inside as there was a wedding going on. What a wonderful place to start your married life.

Mike and Sherri left a day too soon. In Hayden Valley we had the chance to see one of natures great encounters. For almost 45 minutes we watched as a pack of four wolves tried to run down three elk cows. The chase ended at the banks of the Yellowstone River. Here the exhausted wolves get a drink as the last cow walks into the river. The large buck stood by and watched the whole event and was not bothered by the wolves.

After being threatened again the cow starts across the river to join the other two on the opposite bank. The wolves did not venture very far into the water.

Here they have given up the chase and start back through the meadow to the forest. Near the treeline they stopped and went nose to nose with a big bull buffalo but thought better than to take on that big guy. This was truly one of the most amazing natural events we have ever seen.

It is time to get on the road and head South as there is some fresh s**w in the higher elevations. We had a great week in Yellowstone and sharing it with Mike and Sherri made it even better. If you are keeping score the guys went 4-0 in the four euchre tournaments we played this visit. Yellowstone is the most spectacular and diverse natural environment in the national park system and is not possible to capture it in two blog posts so here is a web album with more pictures of this wonderful park. Click on slideshow to enlarge the pictures.


Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Wow a hunting wolf pack!

Richard said...

Stunning, just stunning!!!

Merlene + Dan Goan said...

Beautiful! thanks for sharing....maybe we'll make next year!