Everybody has seen photos of Yellowstone, right? Geysers. Steam pots. Lovely blue, orange, and gold hot pools. Bison. Elk. Bears. Wolves. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River and the upper and lower falls. World class trout streams and beautiful Lake Yellowstone.
So, I promised myself that, out of the hundreds of photos I took, I would post only a few!
Our drive from Livingston to West Yellowstone was easy and appealing. Only one regret – that we hadn’t known to plan an overnight stop to explore Bozeman! It looked like a vibrant, lively town as we drove through, with well-maintained historic buildings, a brew pub, a huge natural foods co-op, and a restored old theatre building now apparently used as an arts venue. Odel reminded me that there was a university there; we almost always find university towns appealing.
Driving through downtown Bozeman, MT
Along the Gallatin River (I think), south on Hwy 191
We pulled into Bakers Hole Campground (click here to read our review and see photos), on the Madison River just 3 miles from the National Park, at noon and quickly set up camp. It was a beautiful day, forecast to be the best of the week, so we didn’t want to waste time hanging around home – we were off to Yellowstone!
Three miles to the west entrance of the park, flash the “get in free” Golden Age pass. We hit our first traffic jam ten minutes later: three bison, a huge bull elk and his harem were relaxing on the banks of the Madison River. This will sound horribly jaded, but we don’t stop for these guys any longer. Fabulous though they are, we just roll slowly past, dodging the cars and spectators clogging the roadway. I do snap away as we roll along, though!
In another 45 minutes, we pulled into the HUGE parking lots at Old Faithful and hit the boardwalk trails. This is one of my favorite parts of Yellowstone – the steam, the smells, the sounds, and the colors. We walked for the rest of the afternoon – well over our daily 10,000 steps – in short sleeves! In sunshine! It was sublime.
Blue Star, an old favorite.
Punchbowl, a new favorite, off the beaten path.
If you’ve paid any attention at all to Yellowstone National Park, you have seen a photo of one of it’s most iconic sights: the Morning Glory Pool, so named because the shape and COLOR are so reminiscent of the flower. Well, bad new, folks.
The ethereal blue of the morning glory is fading into green. The National Park Service blames this on vandalism, visitors throwing coins, rocks and trash into the pool, clogging the vent and cooling the water temperature. Deep blue is the color of the hottest pools – which Morning Glory is no longer.
Morning Glory Pool, June 2004
Morning Glory Pool, September 2010
When we were here in 2004, I took a photo of Morning Glory – and again this year, though it was quite a disappointment. Well, like all of nature… things change!
We awoke to the pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof this morning and a big change in the weather. Once again, we headed into the park, this time in long sleeves, with hats, coats and gloves along “just in case”. Once again, big crowds in the park. Traffic snarls for the roadside wildlife, and long lines of traffic in two constructions zones along our route. We visited more geysers and bubbling pools at the Norris Geyser Basin, then headed east to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River where we walked the two-mile south rim trail from the Upper Falls to Artist’s point.
I took 118 photos today, all classic Yellowstone shots, of which I will share just one. As we drove back to the west, a blaze of sunshine lit a golden meadow and turned the recent rainstorm dark, dark, black. A lone bison grazed in the meadow, undisturbed by weather, and Odel pulled over so I could snap this shot.
Back home, we were beat – we did a LOT of hiking today! I’m off to bed, where I can hear Odel gently “snoozing” as I write.