07.26.15 – Day one in Yellowstone National Park on 7.23.15

yellowstone figure 8 loopBefore we came here I only knew that Yellowstone had mountains and was beautiful.  I knew nothing of what it really is so I want to share some of what we learned with you! First a little information about Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is 2.2 million acres in size. Shaped like a figure eight (see picture to the left), the upper loop and lower loop combined are approximately 142 miles long with the average speed limit of 45 mph.  I doubt we drove over 25 mph most of the time. They are anticipating over 4 million tourists in Yellowstone this year.

Yellowstone is way larger than Grand Teton and is very different in many ways.  In Grand Teton it was all about the big mountains and driving around to get different views of them.  In Yellowstone it is about the amazing things around every curve in your journey through the park.

Dora, Boots, Roy and I are staying in Canyon Campground (part of Gallatin National Forest which connects to Yellowstone National Park.  It is about 20 miles north of Yellowstone’s upper loop (just a little north of the top of the circle around the figure 8 loop.) Our journey to Canyon Campground took us through the entire east side of both loops. We entered at the South Entrance and exited at the North Entrance to get to our campground.

After such a stressful, draining drive yesterday we slept in and left to explore the park at 11 am. We planned to take it easy and just see a bit of the area around Mammoth Hot Springs which is at the north part of the top loop. There are roads out from Mammoth called the Upper and Lower Terrace roads. We set out in Boots our truck first to see that area and four hours later we’d seen all of the Terrace Road and boardwalks!  Before we got to the terrace roads we saw all this. First two are called Liberty Cap, a dormant hot springs cone

1 liberty cap a dormant hot springs cone2 liberty cap34 (2)4Maps of the Upper and Lower Terrace roads and boardwalks. It was quite a long trek!

2221These Dangerous Ground signs are at each stop. B1These pictures and others are of fumaroles. A fumarole (ultimately from the Latin fumus,” smoke”) is an opening in a planet’s crust, often in the neighborhood of volcanoes, which emits steam and gases such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, and hydrogen sulfide. The steam forms when superheated water turns to steam as its pressure drops when it emerges from the ground.  This is a world of heat loving miroorganisms called thermophiles. Billions of them live, die and are buried in Mammoth Hot Springs.

20 19 5 6 7 (2) 7 7b 8 (2) 8 9 10 11 12 14 16 17From there we drove around the entire upper loop. While you can just drive the loop without stopping and getting out, you will not see but maybe 10 percent of the beautiful sights. Time after time, what looked okay from the road took our breath away when we got out of the car and saw it in its entirety.

This is Orange Spring Mound where water and minerals from underground bubble up and when pouring out cause the mound to continue to grow bigger.  24 25

One of those times we almost passed up because we couldn’t see anything from the road turned out to be a magnificent water fall!26 27 28

Further along the ride the mountains took front stage.  Seeing so many of them stretching out into forever was amazing!29

I wanted a bouquet of these purple beauties but I had to settle for a photo!  They were everywhere throughout Yellowstone.  30

This is the petrified tree.  Not too impressive to look at but the fact that it was wood and turned into stone is kinda cool!31

Roy enjoying the magnificence of this spot and the rushing river below32 34 35

Another fumarole (one of hundreds) along side the road.  You could walk up to it if you were crazy or hand’t read the Dangerous Ground signs everywhere!36

Another amazing roadside waterfall.  Roy climbed out to it for the second shot!37 38Further along the road were these amazing sights!     We were given a very helpful paper map when entering the park. We used that along with our phone’s map to guide39 us along.   The paper map showed most all the important spots that are must see locations along the journey. The phone’s map helped us see up ahead what was coming. There are probably 20 must see locations in the upper loop and 30 must see locations in the lower loop.

Some of the sights were quick to see and some took us down almost 2 mile boardwalks or on hikes through the area to the sight. Everyone was worth the effort, even for us two old folks! We walked A LOT today!

We met a lovely couple with a child from London along the way. They rented a Class C RV for their visit to this area. I loved their accents and we enjoyed talking to them.

Around 5 pm we arrived at Canyon Village where they offer fine dining, cafeteria dining and burgers. We chose the 40cafeteria dining. Oh my goodness were we shocked at the cost. It was very good food and we were starving by the time we stopped there (didn’t take any food with us on the trip) and our eyes picked out everything possible to eat. The total was almost $50 for two people at a cafeteria!   This was the only restaurant area in the entire upper loop so there were hundreds of people there and I guess they can name their price. We ate very well and left quite content with our full tummies, but empty pockets!

We saw several sights along the remainder of the upper loop. A lot of the drive back was on a road under 44construction so what should have taken us 30 minutes to return took 2 hours! We appreciate their desire to keep the roads nice but wish they had done it some other time!! We arrived home at 8:30 pm which made for another long day at 9 ½ hours! Roy did say this drive in Boots was much less stressful than the one the day before in Dora.

One thing I’d like to tell you about now is that we took over 40 videos this day and are working on a way to share them with you. So much of what we saw is moving (like the waterfalls, steam and minerals coming up from the travertine areas, bison, rivers flowing over the rocks, etc. so I want you to see them that way also!

An observation I have to make here is that a lot of the time we felt like we must actually be in Japan or China 45instead of the USA because there were so many Japanese/Chinese people touring the place and working here. Probably 3 out of every 5 tourist was Asian there were that many.   You will hear them chatter in most all of the videos when I share them.

I believe that a lot of Americans, just like us, have never taken the time to explore America outside of our own area. We’ve always gone to either Disney or Atlanta on vacations and no where else. How very much we now regret not having taken our sons this this amazing part of our country when they were growing up.

Yellowstone and Grand Tetons are wonderfully exciting and educational vacations for families. The kids are as amazed as the wonderful beauty as their parents were.   I’d urge families to plan their vacations outside your usual spots and see this beautiful area. Don’t wait until it’s harder to get around to do this. The amazing beauty of this country that God created for us needs to be seen and appreciated.

Wednesday we again traveled over the west side of the top loop to get to the bottom loop which is larger.  We explored the entire lower loop which brought even more amazing wonders!  Then we traveled over the east side of the top loop to get back to Dora. Old Faithful is there amongst lots of other wonders of nature.

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

Psalm 46 10

cooltext1838781539Click on the links below to go there!

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