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. 🙂
Thanks to a comment from a friend yesterday, I learned that baby bison are called red dogs.
I had never heard that term before and she said she’s only heard that in Yellowstone.
Her comment also reminded me that I hadn’t shared the couple of shots I got of the babies. It looks like it was a good calving season because we saw a lot of the little furry babies on the ground.
I love the little nubs on their heads. They are much cuter than their mothers that’s for sure!
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. 🙂