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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mammoth and Norris

Day three: We got off to a slow start since we arrived so late the night before so it was almost lunch before we got a parking spot at the Mammoth terraces. It was hot and very crowded so we soon left for a picnic lunch and decided on a hike to Monument Geyser basin just south of Norris.

I love this view from the terraces north. You can see Mammoth,the park headquarters, and into the mountains beyond.

After a short, but very steep hike we got some amazing long distance views and had fun poking around a mountain- top thermal area. As usual in Yellowstone, we were alone on the trail. So strange to be in that kind of quiet and solitude surrounded by such awesome beauty.

Enjoying Monument Geyser Basin

and the view from the trail.

Dinner was a cookout at the Norris picnic area. We had the place to ourselves except for a large solitary bison, three Sandhill cranes who strutted off into some nearby woods squawking all the while, and a bull elk with a big set of antlers.

We know you're in there!

Our evening entertainment was a sunset walk through Norris Geyser Basin. The air was balmy and the thermal features were as strange and wonderful as they come. My favorite was Vixen Geyser which is small, but puts on a perfect little show right next to the boardwalk.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Yellowstone Bound

Day two: Drove from Spokane to Gardiner, Montana (gateway to Yellowstone's North entrance). On the way we stopped and toured Lewis and Clark Caverns which the kids all thought was a blast! I think our silly guide made it especially fun for them!

Here Yogi and I are walking to the cave entrance.

Inside the limestone caverns...

Ahhh, Montana!

Friday, August 15, 2014

On the Road Again

Heading to Yellowstone. Day one: Seattle to Spokane.

The Columbia River Gorge

View out the window in Eastern Washington.

Side stretch on the side of the road.

Saturday, August 2, 2014