Saturday, September 8, 2012

Final Days at Yellowstone (West Yellowstone, Mt.)

Friday, Aug 31st, it was back to the park. This time we headed north to the Mammoth Hot Springs area. First we cruised the campground that we were to move to on Monday. After much deliberation, we again decided to change our plans and stay where we are in West Yellowstone.  Obviously we like the place we're at and we don't tire of the drive.  From there we spent some time in the area of what used to be Fort Yellowstone. I think it's interesting that the US Army managed Yellowstone from 1886 to 1916. The buildings are now used as the Visitor Center, office space and residences.

Mammoth Hot Spring area includes the Park Headquarters
The area also is home to lots of Elk, they were everywhere.  These young fellows were just camped out on the lawns of park residences.

From there we made our way to the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. The features here are completely different from anything else we've seen in the park.

We walked the boardwalks then began our trek home. There were more sights to be seen as we traveled south. Gibbon Falls was especially beautiful.

We even stopped at yet another area of thermal features, the Norris Geyser Basin.

It was nice but we may be about done with thermal features. By early evening we were back at the camper.

When we got up on Saturday morning it looked like the weather was going to keep us home. They were calling for 80% chance of rain and it was looking mighty threatening. (Mostly the rain didn't materialize until we got home, then it poured!) But we decided to go on to the park knowing that if we got rained out there was always sight seeing from the truck. Optimism is a great thing. As it turned out, it may have been the best day at Yellowstone. We spent much of the day at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

All of our time was spent on the north and then south side of the Canyon. There are two waterfalls cleverly named the Upper and Lower Falls. There were numerous short walks to spectacular views. On the south side there was a mighty unique access to views via Uncle Tom's Trail.

Primarily it's a short trail then 328 metal steps straight down to a view of the Lower Falls.  Our view today even included a rainbow.

This whole area was, to me, maybe the best of its kind. For my money, it is hands down the best part of Yellowstone.  Hopefully the pictures will tell some of  the story.

To top off our great day we went to the Playmill Theater in West Yellowstone to see Annie Get Your Gun. Debbie got a notion earlier in the week that we needed to go to this place. Here's a surprise, on line it got great reviews! Now the truth is I would never describe myself as a musical loving sort of guy. But mostly I'm up for anything. So we enter this very small community theater and our seats are 3 rows from the stage, dead center. Debbie did good! The program starts off with some very corny and very funny little comedy skits. Then the musical begins. I smiled and laughed during the entire program. I kept saying, "this is just too cute!" This past winter we went to a larger version of community theater in Tucson and it also was superior. I could be hooked. We'll look forward to the next performance somewhere.

We spent Sunday at the camper chillin. Mostly that means I sat outside reading, talking to my fellow campers and tinkering around some. Debbie spent the day cooking our beloved Taco Soup and doing computer stuff.

Monday we went to the park for the specific purpose hiking Mount Washburn. There are two routes to the summit with a trailhead at Dunraven Pass and another "up" the road at the end of Chittenden Road. We (Debbie) chose the trailhead at Dunraven Pass because with that route you can "avoid a narrow ridge that must be traversed just before the summit." That quote is from our Yellowstone book (Yellowstone Treasures - Janet Chapple) and was all Debbie needed to hear to make her selection. The hike itself follows what was obviously a road at one time so the route is plenty wide with good footing.

Round trip was 7.5 miles with about 1500 feet of elevation gain. Fellow hikers we passed spoke of maybe two different bears seen in the area but we never saw Yogi. Debbie is really quite concerned about being eaten by a bear so we carry bear spray. We also sing and make noise when she thinks it's necessary. I'm sure that makes good sense. So the hike was wonderful. We had clear skies, bright sun and good hiking temperatures ......until we got to the top. It was cold and windy at 10,234 feet.

There is an expansive, manned fire tower at the top of the mountain with an enclosed observation area underneath the tower. 

There's also bathrooms and a rooftop observation platform as well. We sat inside and enjoyed our Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. This little furry fellow wanted us to share and he wasn't the least bit shy about trying to help himself to our lunch.

 Afterwards we moseyed back down the mountain and returned to the camper.

Tuesday we planned a road trip. Our time here is winding down and we had one more section of the park and beyond to explore. So we loaded the boys in the truck so they could enjoy the trip with us. They were SOOO excited! And we drove.  Eight to nine hours and about 300 miles.  We first drove to the Tower Roosevelt area of the park, making a quick stop at Tower Falls.

There was road construction underway resulting a major traffic jam.

Then the buffalo caused another tie-up.

That did give us time though to study the interesting formations along the roadway walls.

 Our ultimate destination though was the Beartooth Highway via the the Northeast entrance road.

Unfortunately the area east of the park, including the Beartooth Highway was fairly hazy so we don't have high hopes for the pictures. So I guess you'll just have to take it from me, the drive is STUPENDOUS! Charles Kuralt described it as "the most beautiful drive in America." The road is very winding and narrow but well worth the effort.

We're already trying to plan a return trip hopefully sooner then later.

When we got back to West Yellowstone we hit DQ and went home. Great day with the dogs!

We spent all day Wednesday at the campground, relaxing and getting things ready to leave.  And that brings our adventures in Yellowstone to a close. Our next stop ....Glacier National Park.

See ya there!


1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you spent some extended time at Yellowstone. I just don't understand how some people can 'do' Yellowstone in just two days. :)