Stop #12 – Yellowstone

Wow! After stops at the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Bear Lake, and Grand Teton, what could possibly follow? The granddaddy of all US National Parks – Yellowstone! There is so much to see in this immense park, that we will devote two days to road trip and visit as many inspirational points as possible realizing that several weeks would not due it justice. Since this is June and nightly temperatures could drop into the 30’s, we plan to stay in a hotel both nights and get an early start each morning. I have never been to the West Yellowstone entrance, which is actually in Montana, but it will serve as our base of operations as we plan our days.

Car traffic could be an issue and sightings of bear and elk always cause backups and delays but you have to take them in stride and hope that the wild animals hang around until you reach the head of the line.

There actually is an antelope in the left of this scene.
Don’t feed the bears!

Yellowstone is home to half the hot geysers in the world nd most have erratic timing and could erupt as you walk by. The thin continental crust nd hot magma just below the surface create bubbling pools of water and mud and as steam pressure builds and releases, water spouts 75 feet or more suddenly burst forth showering the surrounding land with colorful mineral laden water.

An unexpected geyser erupts in the late afternoon light giving the water a golden hue.
Both bacteria and minerals contribute to colorful pools below geysers.

An uncontrolled forest fire swept large areas of Lodgepole Pine forest several years ago creating new opportunities for adventurous undergrowth, wildflowers, as well as sprouting trees.

Yellowstone Lake is huge! Native Cutthroat Trout and Brook Trout cruise below the fishing bridge and the Yellowstone River begins here and contributes to the world’s longest River system – the Mississippi-Missouri.

Yellowstone Lake covers the central portion of the park and it stretches forever.
The Yellowstone River begins at the north end of the park on its journey to the Gulf of Mexico so many thousands of miles away.

Pristine mountain ranges surround the park and provide an untouched home to many indigenous herds of elk, families of both black and grizzly bear, and packs of recently re-introduced wolves. Bison and mule deer plus a few Pronghorn Antelope share the lower elevation grasslands with prairie dogs, badgers, and coyotes.

Everywhere you go throughout Yellowstone, sights and sounds await. Our last day arrives too soon and we begin preparation to continue our adventure by heading to the wild west town of Cody, Wyoming. Yellowstone was unforgettable!

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