Thursday, September 4, 2014

Yellowstone Lake

Day 7: A Day on the Lake! Even though there was a thick layer of clouds and mist, we decided to head down to Yellowstone Lake since Chris and kids had never seen that part of the park.

We saw these cuties on the drive out.
First stop: a bison kill in Hayden Valley with two robust looking Grizzly Bears feeding on it. We parked nearby and spent some time looking at the scene (along with dozens of others!) through our binoculars.

Next stop: Yellowstone Lake. By this time the clouds seemed to be breaking up a little so we decided to take our chances and rent a fishing boat with a guide to see some of the lake and have the kids try fishing. Within minutes the wind kicked up and the rain slashed down as each of the kids went fishing. Everyone ended up wet and shivery, but they caught 5 fish total.

We also pulled up to a backcountry campsite on the edge of the lake. Our guide let us disembark for a bit so we walked around and explored the site.

On the ride home we saw a small raft of American White Pelicans!

Not wanting to go a day without a hike, we chose a short trail on the lake called Storm Point. The kids seemed to like getting out of the car and stretching their legs on the trail under broken clouds.

The darlings of the trail...
We finished the day visiting the North rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. With the cool weather, the lookouts weren't busy and while Chris took more photos we watched an active Osprey nest. We even saw one Osprey bring up a fish from the Yellowstone River in his talons!

There was snow on Dunraven Pass as we drove home.

Horses and Hiking

Day 6: Horses and a hiking! Started the day with a trail ride in Jardine, a tiny gathering of shacks and a now defunct gold mining operation north of Gardiner outside the park. Ember has been longing for a real trail ride, but since she's only six, she's too young for a ride in the park. We found Specimen Creek Outfitters and signed up for a one hour trail ride for me and the kids.

We all loved feeding them from our hands. I've never felt anything like that dry, velvety muzzle.

On the trail...

Group shot!

The weather was much cooler and overcast, but by the time we finished lunch, the clouds had parted so we chose a nearby five mile hike to the beaver ponds near Mammoth.

After a short steep section, the trail leveled off, the kids were happily chatting their way down the trail, and the views were incredible.Here we're looking north towards the area where we were on horseback earlier in the day.

The beaver ponds sans beavers!
Just as we were making our way down the final section of trail, the heavy clouds had rolled back in and it started to downpour. Instead of a cookout, we made spaghetti in our little room and enjoyed an early evening at home.
This was taken during a break in the rain from our balcony that evening.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Geyser Basins!

Day 5: Geyser Basins! We started the day with a photo shoot of the resident Pronghorn Antelope near the entrance arch.

Then we made our way South visiting the various geyser basins as we passed them. Parking was a challenge as were the crowds, but where else can you see all these thermal features?

Fountain Paint Pots...a little bit of everything thermal!

Lunch at Great Fountain Geyser. We saw the pool fill, but that was all.

Grand Prismatic Spring at Midway Geyser Basin

We climbed a hill opposite the spring to get this view.

We ended the day at the Upper Geyser Basin where we saw Old Faithful erupt.

The crowd on the other side!

Then we wandered along the boardwalk in the evening light and got very lucky! First we stumbled upon Castle Geyser which was moments from a major eruption ending with the steam phase that sounded like a jet engine. (It's on a 14 hour cycle so our chances of seeing it were very slim!)

A few minutes later Grand Geyser (the tallest predictable geyser in the world (100-200 feet) erupted in huge splashy bursts.

Finally, we ended the day with my favorite geyser : Grotto Geyser. It was having a "marathon" erupting continuously for 24 hours so there was no chance we could miss this one!

Isn't it cute?!

We didn't get home until after 10pm that night. This shot was taken on the drive home. An ominous sky...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Day four: The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone! We started the day with a drive out to Roosevelt for a stagecoach ride out into the sagebrush.

We then traveled past Tower to Canyon where we took a walk along the South rim. Considering how much our legs hurt after descending 396 steps down the side of the canyon and then back up again on Uncle Tom's trail, we were a little ambitious to think we could drag the kids along for the 4 mile round trip hike along the rim, but it was worth it! The views, the colors, the rock formations up the sides of the canyon; it was spectacular!

The many steps of Uncle Tom's Trail!

Views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

We cooked up another picnic dinner before the drive home and then started the return trip over Dunraven Pass. It was dusk when we started the drive and I had just told the kids that it was the perfect place and time for seeing wildlife, when I looked out the window and there was a large wolf right at the edge of the woods. He turned into the forest and quickly disappeared, but it was a magical moment for all of us.

Our first wolf!

Then we started up again, went around a bend and what do we see, but a Grizzly Bear trotting towards us right next to our van on our side of the road. Ok, he was the most ragged, moth-eaten old thing, missing half an ear and covered in scars, but still a Grizzly Bear!

Our rag-tag Grizzly!

On our drive home we had views of the Yellowstone further downstream from the falls. This was taken by Tower.