To: Yellowstone National Park, WY
We left the hotel and drove down the road to a Walmart with the best back drop view of any Walmart in the country. For, Cody, WY is nestled at the foot (or should I say, hairy big toe) of the Rocky Mountains. We drove through a little tunnel and on the other side were surprised by a lake completely surrounded by jutting mountains. We continued on, jaws gaping, till we entered Yellowstone National Park.
Entering at the East Gate, we began our journey further up into the mountains. We got excited when the ranger at the gate warned us of very active wildlife on the roads. And before we knew it, we almost ran into a buffalo walking the wrong direction in our lane of traffic. So, naturally, Jayne stepped aside for Mr. Buff.
From the East Gate, the first big point of interest we came to was Yellowstone Lake which was breath taking and massive. At any given point, the distance from one side to the other is in terms of miles. One of the first things we noticed was how perfectly clear the pristine water was. Like looking through glass. And as one might expect, it was freezing cold.
The first site we stopped at was Steam Boat Point, because we noticed the ground was smoking. Reading the info plaque we learned that it was not in fact smoking but actually steaming. Yellowstone National Park sits on a volcano. Miles underneath the surface there is a magma reservoir. Ground water seeps its way down becoming super heated and then rises with great force to the surface and breaks through thin crust areas all over the park. These break-throughs are seen in the form of hot springs, mud pots, steam vents and geysers, all of which we would see along our journey.
On we drove through Sedge Bay, Mary Bay, Fishing Village and Lake Village till we found a quaint little spot for lunch at Bridge Bay that we were able to claim all to ourselves. We filled our bellies on the shore of the most beautiful lake we’ve ever seen. Our picnic table sat on a cliff almost 40 feet straight up from the water, and we enjoyed watching otters swimming and playing in the water. They were cute!
Driving on we stopped at West Thumb (huge cover in lake) geyser basin on the west side of the lake where we walked the boardwalk seeing dozens of hot springs and mud pots. Mud pots are rather large boiling mud pits. Mud splashes and squirts up getting thrown in all directions. The hot springs are crystal clear pools of scalding hot water boiling up from under ground. They often display a different array of colors due to the different bacteria present in the water. It was here that we figured out that Yellowstone was much more than what we’d expected. We anticipated a giant beautiful forest with sights, wildlife and hiking. We had not realized the whole volcano deal with active hot spots and geologically volatile landscape.
There were parts of the ground you couldn’t walk on for danger of opening another steam vent and burning yourself.
Also, at West Thumb we watched another family of otters playing and catching fish in the lake near the area where hot spring water flows into the lake warming it slightly. They were cuties! Playful, they looked like a cross between a huge ferret and a dog.
We drove through Craig Pass, which goes over the continental divide at a wopping elevation of 8262 feet (beautiful views) and stopped next at Kepler Cascades. This was the first of several waterfalls. It, like everything else, was beautiful.
From there, it was onward to Old Faithful. As we drove through the parking area the famed Geyser erupted leaving us about 90 minutes to kill before the next big show. We toured the visitor’s center and gift shop, walked the dogs then took a seat.
Watching the eruption was cool and surprisingly quiet. It was beautiful, and we learned that enough water is expelled each eruption to fill at least 150 bathtubs.
Leaving Old Faithful we got caught in yet again a second buffalo jam. This time, there were lots of cars held up, but not for too long. Dozens of Bison dominated the four-lane road for about 5 minutes until we squeaked through. We traveled on to the Midway Geyser Basin where we saw a hot spring called the Grand Prismatic Spring, which was approximately 200 feet in diameter concealed mostly in steam.
The area, nonetheless, was impressive. Along with several other springs, all the water from this basin flowed into a nearby river.Next, were the Fountain Paint Pots. Another boardwalk took us past a rather large mud pot, several steam vents and a geyser which was erupting continuously. We never saw it quit. At this point the sun was setting so we, like lazy buffalo, moseyed on our merry way to our campsite for the night in Madison. Throughout the day the temp was warm, upper 50s. That night, by Jayne’s account it dropped to 27 degrees. We managed to bundle and stay mostly warm through Nathan woke up cold several times through the night. Dakota and Lola roughed it underneath towels and our ski jackets on top of their dog bed pillows.