We left Bear Canyon Campground in Bozeman about 10:30am on June 19 – Acey’s mileage 63,893.9 and Thor 67,142. Arrived at Rocky Mountain RV Park just past noon and made lunch before we headed to Yellowstone for the afternoon. The RV Park was right outside the North entrance to the park; very convenient since we are way too big for the campgrounds inside the park.
No visitor centers or museums were open due to Covid-19 restrictions, but that didn’t seem to keep folks away from this beautiful place! Yellowstone National Park was the first National Park in the US (1872) and possibly the first in the world. Its 2.2+ million acres span parts of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
We had purchased the Lifetime Senior National Parks Pass when we were at the Badlands, and it has now paid for itself!
So, we got into the park and checked out the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. There is a boardwalk intertwined through this area to view the geothermal features. Quite “other-worldly” in appearance – spectacular!
The first thing we came upon up close was Liberty Cap – a dormant hot spring cone.
There are many thermal pools and springs of all shapes and colors in the Mammoth Terrace area
We headed down the road and saw another petrified tree – a fence around it kept folks from touching it.
Took a hike to Wraith Falls
Udine Falls was able to be viewed on a pullout right alongside of the road.
Elk roam freely all over the park and seem particularly fond of the area around the Mammoth Village Lodge.
Saturday we drove down to see Old Faithful and more wonders in the park. On the way, we saw some bison off to the side of the road.
One calf was nursing.
Our timing was good to arrive at the site of the Old Faithful geyser; it erupted just a few minutes after our arrival. Eruptions are generally every 90 minutes + or – 10 minutes and last from 1 to 4 minutes. While we waited, Linda asked a ranger if it would have looked the same in 1962 when she was last there. (See the blog of our 1962 trip if you haven’t already looked at it!) He said its appearance has not changed in many, many years, and would have looked the same – except the road used to come right up to where the boardwalk was. He had seem pictures of FDR riding in a car right where we were standing! The museums are all closed, so we couldn’t see much in the way of the history of the park.
The eruption we witnessed lasted about 4 minutes. Spectacular! Here’s a video we took!
We continued along the road and saw the Kepler Cascades
At the Continental Divide, the elevation was 8262 – one of the highest points along the road.
Saw some snow on the side of the road, so we had to check that out! We had been told 3” of snow had fallen 3 days prior to our arrival (about the time we got to Bozeman)
Yellowstone Lake is one of the highest elevation lakes in North America. The park is centered over the largest super volcano on the continent, but is considered dormant (thankfully!) Apparently, the geysers and hydrothermal features in the park are fueled by the magma flowing a few miles below the surface.
We viewed the West Thumb Geyser Basin with blue thermal pools right by the shore of Yellowstone Lake.
At the LeHardy Rapids, we saw some Harlequin ducks and learned about the cutthroat Trout that, like salmon, go upriver to spawn. We saw some that had made it halfway up, but did not witness any of them jumping.
More geothermal activity
The Mud volcano has a pH close to battery acid! See it gurgle in this short video!
The Dragon Mouth Spring was awesome! Here is a short video – minus the smell!
Sulphur Cauldron – be glad the photo doesn’t transfer the smell with the image! Many of these features were quite pungent…
As I mentioned before, Yellowstone is centered over the largest super volcano on the North American continent.This sign has a nice graphic explaining some details.
We went on to see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, carved out by the Yellowstone River. The falls were beautiful – and the canyon breathtaking!
Some moose were off to the side of the road.
Sunday we enjoyed a third venture into the park and visited the Golden Gate and another waterfall nearby
The Sheepeater Cliffs were interesting! This one was fairly close to the road
We took a short hike to see this much larger cliff.
Clearwater Springs – more thermal activity in a meadow!.
A short side road off the main road took us to the Virginia Cascades.
Norris Geyser Basin had a lot more thermal features to see
It was easy to see why this one was called Emerald Spring.
Steamboat Geyser is in the Norris Geyser Basin – we did no get to see this very large geyser erupt – it had erupted a few days prior and is very unpredictable as to when it will erupt – could be 4 days or 50 years! It frequently “spits” which we saw, but nothing major. It will spray much higher than Old Faithful when it does go off!
More features at Norris Geyser Basin
Firehole Spring had more to see!
Great Fountain Geyser – we had just missed an eruption here – but it was still spitting and fuming!
This was the Artist Paint Pots area – we took a short hike in a light rain – we are on geyser-spring-suplhur smell overload – very unusual and colorful stuff here!
We only saw a few bears that were way off in the distance where traffic had been stopped for quite some time as folks were watching them, but they were too far away to see or capture on our cameras; better than having a dangerous close encounter at any rate! But these bison stopped traffic as they wandered across the road when we headed toward the park exit; perhaps the same herd we saw earlier as there were 3 calfs like we saw with the other herd.
The Roaring Mountain was not roaring very loudly – but we could see a couple of stem vents far from where we viewed this spectacle. And with that – we bid adieu to Yellowstone for now!
We left Rocky Mountain RV Park at 8:05am on Monday June 22 – Acey’s mileage 63,966.5 and Thor 67,476 – we drove 334 miles around Yellowstone during the 3 days we visited. What glorious sights of God’s wonderful creation we were able to see there!