I hadn’t planned on writing again about my visit up to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Teton National Park but I was inspired by the company, Cotopaxi, to share a little bit of my Park Pride. And since it’s still chilly and I’m in the thick of calving, it’s nice to revisit a warmer time!
Cotopaxi is a company focused on spreading positive vibes and encouraging people to live actively and get outside. They’re also a benefits corporation focused on giving back. A percentage of every sale goes to various organizations that support global health initiatives, and their hiking backpacks help provide the most aid.
Now, the actual date of the 100th Anniversary of National Parks was August 25, 2016 but hey, we can continue the celebration, can’t we? I think so. In fact, last month, Yellowstone marked it’s 145th anniversary.
We went Yellowstone in late May last year which was a great time to see the newborn Bison calves.
We hiked on paths around the Geysers and they were breathtaking. Not just because of their beauty, but because they wreaked of sulfur!
The wildlife is certainly wild, but also quite cute.
And of course, there is always Old Faithful. Incredible to experience.
I was thrilled with Yellowstone but I think my favorite part of the trip was The Grand Tetons.
The word majestic doesn’t even do them justice. And neither do photographs. You must go and visit them for yourself.
Where the antelope run through tall sagebrush,
where the water of Schwabacher’s Landing reflects the peaks,
…and where wildflowers line many hiking paths.
The Grand Tetons stole my heart. If you want a refresher on our adventures in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, go ahead re-visit my posts. (start here for Yellowstone and and here for Tetons) Who knows, maybe they will inspire you to hit the road and visit a National Park this year! 🙂
I do want to mention that I am a cheerleader for State Parks as well. When you are on the road, headed for a National Park, instead of RV’ing or camping at a side of the road camping facility, park your RV or camp in a tent at a state park instead. It can at times be less expensive and most always be more enjoyable. I traveled Wyoming in 2014 for a project with the State and 9 times out of 10, folks were headed to Yellowstone. And all of those families had planned their route to Yellowstone by locating and staying at State Parks along the way. They said they wouldn’t do it any other way. I have to agree!
Cheers and happy exploring!
Please not that this post was inspired by Cotopaxi. This is not a paid advertisement for the National Parks Services or for Cotopaxi. Opinions and photos are strictly my own. I’m just sharing my #parkpride. 🙂
You guess it. The sky dumped more snow yesterday. But there is a report that it will warm up by the end of the week. A girl can dream, right?
One ear hearin’ and one ear listenin’. 🙂
Sleeping aspens in the snow.
Reese Mountain has been a favorite of mine since I moved to Wyoming. I love the texture and the lines.
Ah, those rolling snowy hills. Home.
Spotted these grazers out of the dining room window. Not sure if that’s a standoff or just a pause while chewing. 🙂
We’ve had a break from the snowfall. If there isn’t snow, there’s wind, which has thankfully warmed us up. But it’s overcast with the wet stuff in the clouds and it’s definitely on the way. We’re getting close to calving season too. With a storm on the horizon, I better get ready!
These gals let me sit and watch them for a bit. She paws at the snow to get a bite then moves to the next spot to do the same. They definitely have to work hard for a meal. Grazing is an all day affair. Glad to see they have a healthy winter coat.
Had another little snow storm. Took another snowy drive toward the hills. I’ve always liked this canopy over this part of the road that crosses over a creek. We don’t have a lot of trees down low unless you are near a water source. The contrast of the Cottonwoods in a vast landscape of rolling hills always catches my eye.
The clouds were thick but I saw evidence of the clear blue sky through a thin split in the clouds. It’s still winter, y’all.
As I reflect on our last storm, just last week, big snow flakes are falling outside my window.
The wind had been howling for days, moving the six inches of snow into drifts and rivers and packed the roads with ice. So of course Patrick said, “let’s take a drive to the hills”. I bundled up, we buckled up and took a drive in the comfort of the truck. No ATV this time for me.
This is what’s called a blizzard. A ground blizzard. It doesn’t have to be actively snowing to be a blizzard. The wind was blowing 25 to 30 mph with gusts up to 60 mph.
As soon as the truck made a track, it drifted back in.
We came out of the hills and had a great view of the blowing snow on and below Squaw Mountain.
Closer to home, the snow was whipping around hay bales.
I find it spooky yet fascinating when the snow blows. It dances in swirls all over the road creating a scene from a scary movie or a disco. It’s dangerous if you aren’t careful navigating through it, but pretty groovy to watch.
We busted through a couple of drifts to get down to the meadow to feed the cows. But that isn’t blowing snow you see surrounding the cattle. The snow and fog you see around them is a result of their hot breath and a wide open run straight for us.
When the wind comes up, it warms us up. It took a couple of days but we warmed right up into the 40’s and most of the snow melted. It finally stopped blowing some time in the early morning this morning and then, the snow started to fall. And so the cycle continues.
Keep toasty, y’all!
I know it’s cliché to say but I don’t care. October is my favorite color. 🙂
Here is a shot toward Laramie Peak at sunset to prove it. The wind has taken a lot of our leaves which means winter is coming. But I will hold on to this feeling for a while. It’s been a couple of really great months out here in the wild west.
I have had a lot of client work lately and haven’t been here blogging as much as I’d like. I’m so thankful for the work and it’s been a great few months. Not to rub it in but I did get to spend the weekend with the Tetons to photograph a wedding on Friday. We were concerned about the fires going on in that dry part of the state but on Thursday, the day we arrived, it rained! It hadn’t rained there in a couple months and we had rain showers throughout the entire weekend. The next morning was clear and we spent time at the ranch while the bride got ready and had a first look with her groom. So romantic! We took a drive, walked across a beaver dam and stood with the Tetons as their backdrop while they said their vows. Everything went off without a hitch and we enjoyed every minute of it. The people we met, dare I say new friends, were a delight.
But the weekend wasn’t over. With a day off in between, I had the good fortune to photograph a newly engaged couple that came out to our gorgeous state from Illinois. He found me on the web, wanted a photographer for engagement portraits in that part of the state and I just so happened to be there that same weekend. We met on Sunday morning and had such a fun session. The clouds capped the mountains for the first hour and after a quick rain, it cleared off and we finished with a great view of the Tetons.
I’m now back at home and feverishly editing and processing. I do have more to share here…it just may be a little while. It’s cooling off and the leaves are starting to change. Yay for autumn! xo
Needless to say, it was an amazing adventure in the northwest section of Wyoming. Yellowstone and Tetons are both a sight to see.
Pelicans and geese float the lake. A clear sign that the fishing is probably pretty good!
A western meadowlark grabbed up some yummy breakfast!
Moulton Barn on Mormon Row. One of the most photographed scenes in the world. I put my own spin on it with a delicate spiderweb in the foreground. I’m sure I’m not the first but hey, here it is.
Bison in a field of dandelions. We stayed here a moment and looked through our tour guide’s spotting scope. We saw a brand new bison calf getting used to it’s long legs. So cute!
If the mosquitoes weren’t so bad, I could have watched this swan until dark.
This pond is in Jackson not far from the elk refuge.
We took this trip in late May, early June. I will be heading back to Jackson in September to photograph a wedding with the Tetons as the backdrop. I am excited to see how it looks as autumn begins.
We saw a lot of Pronghorn Antelope. Or Speed Goats. Whatever you wanna call ’em.
Lupine grows in the meadows all around the Tetons. It is a flowering plant in the legume family.
In the Tetons, we saw some amazing species of water fowl at Schwabachers Landing. Schwabachers Landing is a boat landing located a few miles south of Snake River Overlook, along the east shore of the Snake River.
We also saw a lot of little baby ground squirrels. They were everywhere and weren’t all that shy.
I wish I knew the official names of the water fowl that we saw but I don’t recall. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable but I didn’t retain the names of them. Dad may have written notes on them so I’ll check with him. If you know, feel free to name them in the comments!
Debbie booked us a tour of the Grand Tetons because honestly, we just didn’t know where to start and how to get to where we wanted to go. We needed some direction and we got more than we bargained for with our tour guide, Mike. He was a former National Parks employee and knew so many facts and details of the park, the land and wildlife. It was a great experience having him show us around.
I hoped he would show us the view of the Tetons and Snake River. Sure enough he did but the view I saw was different from the Ansel Adams image that I knew and loved. Of course, Adams shot it in 1942 so obviously the terrain has changed a bit. But Mike also told us that he used a ladder to get this image.
Here is mine:
And here it is cropped, and photoshopped to mimic the look of the large format camera.
Of course, my 70D can’t compare to a large format, but it was fun to post process this into black and white.
More on the Tetons later. Cheers!
As I’ve already said, we had a wonderful time in Yellowstone and I feel confident in saying that we left it just as we found it.
The only things we brought home were a couple souvenirs, maps, memories, and lots of photographs.
I don’t have the high speed equipment to get a good photograph of a black bear AND stay safe so I kept my distance when we came across this fella. I’m fine with that.
We saw beautiful waterfalls and at this spot, we met a nice gentleman with his camera on a tripod shooting in the opposite direction of this waterfall.
He pointed out a baby osprey atop a pillar of rock in the canyon waiting for it’s mom.
There is a wolf den somewhere up in those hills but we never saw a wolf up close. Obviously.
This Bison crossed the stream nervously, looking back again and again. Not sure what was after her but she seemed quite nervous. She joined the herd after this.
One of our last stops was at the Grand Prismatic Springs…along with the rest of the tourists.
This is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world.
It’s colors match the rainbow dispersion of white light by an optical prism: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue.
A great experience was had by the three of us. I’ll admit that I had a little separation anxiety when leaving Yellowstone. We just grew to love it so much and wanted to see more. Fortunately our next stop was Grand Teton National Park. So with butterflies in our bellies, we continued on for the adventures ahead of us!
We made a wrong turn and when we realized we had done so, we came upon Sheepeater Cliff and decided to stop and get our bearings.
Sheepeater Cliff was named for the Shoshone Indians who lived throughout this region. Their use of bighorn sheep earned them this name. The cliff is lava that cooled nearly 500,000 years ago.
When we pulled up, we saw a lot of folks admiring this pile of dried lava and wondered what the heck they were looking at.
Then we saw them.
And Mother Marmot.
These brothers were wrestling and flashing their sharp teeth.
Marmots are large squirrels and typically live in burrows within rock piles.
I’ve also heard them be referred to as rock chucks.
They were rolling around like kittens! It was hilarious!
They mostly feed on plants and insects.
Little sister wasn’t having any of it. She was just crawling around the rocks looking cute and eating plants.
Needless to say, we were glad we made a wrong turn because we sure did get a good chuckle. 🙂
Once the Bison traffic jam dissipated, we were able to get further up the road the next day and see some Geysers.
Our first stop was the Norris Geyser Basin.
There are two areas of the Norris Geyser Basin. The Porcelin Basin and the Back Basin. The Porclein Basin is barren of trees and the Back Basin is a good hike through the trees. We stuck with the Porcelin Basin so that we could get a good look of the geothermal activity.
These colors are living thermometers. The orange color from the iron-rich water is a temperature anywhere from 122-140°F. The green has green algae called “phototrophs” and they use the sunlight for energy. They live in temps of 100-133°F.
Some folks in front of us pointed out that there was worm like creature moving around in there. Unbeleivable that an insect could live in such high temps.
Our next stop was Old Faithful. We ate at the Old Faithful Lodge and admired the incredible architecture. After a fantastic lunch we joined the hundreds of other tourists to wait impatiently for the next eruption.
He erupted in a timely manner, as expected, and it really was a sight to behold.
Our next stop was West Thumb basin at Yellowstone Lake. It was so colorful and absolutely gorgeous.
Percolating Spring. When it was named, it bubbled vigorously like a coffee pot.
This is a part of the surging spring. It can be as hot as 167°F and sends hot water into the lake.
The last known eruption of Lakeshore Geyser, pictured above, happened in 1970 and erupted up to 50ft. They say that one day, however, earthquake activity or other processes may cause the geyser to gain energy and begin erupting more forcefully again. It didn’t happen while we were there. It was calm and serene.
This is Black Pool. Not long ago, Black Pool really was black. But the water temperature rose and killed off the heat-loving microorganisms that made the pool appear black. It also erupted in the summer of 1992 and the following winter. It is such a beautiful color and turquoise and deep green. Just lovely.
Thank you for your kind comments yesterday. I always enjoy hearing from you guys. While I was typing replies and looking over the shots from yesterday, I realized that some of them just didn’t have anything to help with scale. I mean, I’m sure you get it that it’s a large hot spring because the name is Mammoth Hot Springs, but my close-ups and detail shots may not have really shown that.
So in this image above, on the left and beyond the trees, you can see the boardwalk and people. Not only is it huge, it’s high. It was definitely a climb.
Pretty darn impressive.
As I said yesterday, since we didn’t make it to Old Faithful, we sought out landscapes and wildlife in other areas of the park.
One creature that isn’t shy in the daylight or at any time of day in fact is the Raven. They are HUGE! Much larger than the crow that we have at home.
Not only is the size difference a way to determine a raven from a crow, the fluffy feathers around the head and neck is a feature of the raven.
Tower Fall. One of the several waterfalls we visited along the way.
I rolled the window down to get this rumble between two bull bison. The drama didn’t last long.
This coyote casually ran past the bison fight and trotted along with a mission. Not sure where he was going but I thought since he was close, I’d keep the window down for a quick portrait.
We drove for a bit and saw cars pulled off and people out with their cameras just snapping away. Three bull elk were grazing. The one farthest away is a young bull. The two older ones would stomp and chase him away but he’d always come back to graze with them. It’s typical behavior between the young and old. Competition at it’s finest.
I’d like to say that we stayed in the car to get our shots of these guys but we didn’t. We stepped out to get a closer look and we became the average tourist taking a risk to get “the shot”. It’s not a smart thing to do. This is not Disney or a petting zoo. These are wild animals and at anytime, they could look up and see that they are surrounded by a threatening presence of humans. And out of that fear of threat, they could injure any one of us. All I can say is that they are more than likely used to humans ogling at them but if anything were to spook them, we’d be in danger.
Fortunately on this day, these guys were pretty docile and were mostly interested in grazing the bright green grass. I shot this with a telephoto once back in the van. Must be nice to have an impressive rack to scratch that itch.
We stayed in Gardiner Montana, just near the north entrance of the park. Located about 5 miles from the entrance is the Mammoth Hot Springs, our first stop in Yellowstone.
Mammoth Hot Springs is a large complex of hot springs on a hill of travertine, a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs.
“It was created over thousands of years as hot water from the spring cooled and deposited calcium carbonate (over two tons flow into Mammoth each day in a solution). Because of the huge amount of geothermal vents, travertine flourishes. Although these springs lie outside the caldera boundary, their energy has been attributed to the same magmatic system that fuels other Yellowstone geothermal areas”- Thank you, Wikipedia
It was a cool morning but the steam coming from the springs warmed us right up.
Detail shots of mineral build up.
It’s quite a hike touring these hot springs and fortunately there is a boardwalk to steer us in the right direction.
Just look at those two. ♥
We sat for a bit to take it all in then took to the road to make our way to Old Faithful, one of the most predictable geographical features on earth. It erupts every 35 to 120 minutes. Our plan was to have lunch at the Old Faithful Lodge and sit out and watch this geyser shoot boiling water up to 185 ft in the air .
But it’s so hard not to stop at every turnout to admire the great scenery.
Here, we stopped at Roaring Mountain. Roaring Mountain is full of microscopic organisms wearing away at the mountain amid the sulfur rich gases. It is inhospitable to humans but is the perfect home for heat-loving microbes.
We loaded back into the van and headed south. We came upon a long line of cars about 10 miles or so from the Old Faithful Historic District. We sat for a while and waited. And waited. You expect long lines and a lot of traffic through the park but we felt something bigger was going on. Plus, at the time of year that we were there, the crowds hadn’t made it to the park yet. Surprisingly so far, the crowds were not that big. So we flagged down a driver coming the other direction and in her thick and kind British accent, she told us that a large herd of Bison had parked themselves in the road and weren’t going anywhere, anytime soon. So, we turned around and made a different plan. We found lunch and happened upon some wildlife along the way and finished out the day admiring the gorgeous landscapes. More on that tomorrow. 🙂
I’ve been travelin’.
My dad and stepmom came out a couple of weeks ago and we hung out around here for a couples days. Then we packed up their minivan and the three of us took off for an adventure in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks that we will never forget.
What a drive, let me tellya. Dad drove through wind, rain, hail, sleet, and heavy fog. It was wild and I was so relieved to be the passenger.
We had to stop for this gorgeous view of Beartooth Mountain as we weaved in and out of Montana and Wyoming on Beartooth Highway.
We made it into the park by mid-evening and the light was beautiful. Right off the bat we saw Bison. What a great time of year because Bison calves were everywhere!
Pronghorn and Bison graze on the flats together.
When you visit Yellowstone, there is a lot of driving. I’m not kidding. It’s a HUGE park. So we had to get organized as to how we were going to tackle this place. We had a Geyser day, a wildlife day, a waterfall day, etc. They all kind of melded together and didn’t always go according to plan. In fact, the day we were headed to Old Faithful, the road was completely blocked by a herd of Bison so we had to turn around and change our plans. We were in a line of cars 10 miles long and didn’t even see the herd but it is obviously not an uncommon event (see above). This isn’t Disneyland. This is Bison, Bear, Pronghorn, Wolf, Elk, Deer; basically all God’s Creatures’ land. We did make it to Old Faithful the next day.
I’ll share more images from this trip throughout the next few days. It was a fantastic time and a wonderful trip to share with my Dad, also a photographer. I am so thankful to my stepmom, Debbie, for making this happen. She is a heck of a trip designer and orchestrated a spectacular adventure for the three of us. They just started their travel blog and you can visit it by clicking here: Travels with Skip & Debbie
…we’re back to dry meadows and snow covered hills.
Cow #10 had her calf a couple days after the storm last week so she timed the birth well, thankfully. They say we are in for another storm later today and tomorrow. We’ll see how many calves that brings us tonight.
Happy Tuesday, y’all! 🙂
As I mentioned yesterday, we’ve been under a “ground blizzard” watch. It’s basically like a sandstorm, but with snow.
But yesterday morning, as the sun rose, it was perfectly still and beautiful.
And by mid-afternoon, as I showed you yesterday, it was still gorgeous.
By 4pm, I noticed from the comfort of my dining room window, the over 30 inches of snow was moving in the hills.
I hightailed up the driveway again so I could show you this fierce beauty.
It was blowing down here but nothing like up there.
I love the look of the whipped waves of snow. Mmmm…this image inspired me to put whipped coconut cream in my coffee this morning.
By sundown, it was still blowing but not too hard here yet. Overnight, however, the wind speed picked up. Thankfully, it’s warmer today. Continues to blow, but warmer.
My thoughts and prayers are with those in higher elevations trying to feed livestock in all that snow and wind. Warmer temperatures are in the forecast for next week so we hope to see some significant snow melt. I don’t think there is any more snowfall in the forecast for a little while.
I’m off to break ice in the water tanks. I’ll put rocks in my pockets so don’t worry ’bout me. I’m just fine. It’s just another day in paradise. 🙂