A Day in Yellowstone National Park

Day 37: Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Miles Driven Today: 259
Total Miles: 5,763

Today’s adventure was a visit to Yellowstone National Park. While it was a bit of a haul from Jackson, we’re glad that we decided not to stay in Montana. We’re really enjoying our cabin.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

I hadn’t realized that Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park were so close together. You’re out of Teton for just a few minutes before you hit the entry to Yellowstone. Once in the park, you pass over the Continental Divide for the first time in the park at an elevation of over 7900 feet.

Continental Divide

We encountered the Continental Divide throughout the park

Our ‘must see’ in the park was Old Faithful, so we took the Grand Loop to the West. The scenery (not surprisingly) was magnificent. Tall pines lined our road, sheer cliffs and canyons flanked us to the right. Old Faithful was around 40 miles INTO the park, so it took a bit of time to get there. As we turned the corner, we could see it spouting above the tree line. Uh oh. That meant a 60- to 90-minute wait until the next ‘show’.

We parked in the village and walked around the visitor’s center. There are a number of villages around the park that include a lodge, visitor’s center, groceries, restaurants and gasoline as well as campgrounds and cabins. Old Faithful Village was teeming with people; not surprising since this is the single most popular attraction in the park.

There were benches and a viewing area all around Old Faithful, so we took the pups out in the stroller and sat in the sun waiting for the next eruption. A little over an hour later, the geyser spouted, shooting water and steam over 100 feet into the air.

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

We then went on to the Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin. The springs and pools around here are uniquely colorful, with brilliant cerulean, orange and ocher rings and boiling, steaming cauldrons of mineral-rich water. The colors are formed by micro-organisms that thrive on the hot water. I found the area to be particularly inspiring; the photos are going to serve my artwork well!

Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble

Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble – Excelsior Geyser Crater

At the Grand Prismatic Spring

At the Grand Prismatic Spring

Brilliant color at the Grand Prismatic Spring

Brilliant color at the Grand Prismatic Spring

We went on to see waterfalls, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Yellowstone Lake and so many other vistas. And we only saw one part of the Grand Loop; we would need several more days to see all that the park had to offer.

Base of the falls at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Base of the falls at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Beautiful Waterfall in Yellowstone

Beautiful Waterfall in Yellowstone

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake

Tom was exceptionally happy that we were also able to see Bison in the wild. We stopped on Fountain Flat Drive and saw a herd of Bison (including young calves) across a river. We also spotted a bunch of Bison in Hayden Valley along with some antelope, mule deer and a number of Canadian geese. It was a good wildlife day. (We also saw some additional bison, antelope and deer near Teton on our way back!)

Field of wild Bison

Field of wild Bison (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Bison

Bison

Big Bison

Big Bison

I couldn’t imagine how congested this park gets in the heart of the summer season. Today’s visit was filled with tour buses and full parking lots, but the park wasn’t at capacity. Once again, we’re happy about our timing, good weather and good fortune.

Today's Open Road

Today’s Open Road

Tomorrow is a ‘down’ day in Jackson. We’ll hang out, do more sightseeing (and perhaps a couple of the local museums) and just relax before heading out on our next adventure. I did find this t-shirt at a gift shop in the Grand Teton National Park. It so fits the trip!

My Motto

My Motto

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The Grandeur of the Tetons

Day 36: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Visited: Grand Teton National Park
Miles Driven Today: 94
Total Miles: 5,504

Grand. That’s an appropriate, albeit modest, description of the Tetons. In reality, the Tetons blew us away.

We started the day making breakfast in the room and then heading out towards the Tetons. The resort we’re staying at provided us with a ‘guided’ scenic driving tour that gave us some really great spots to see and explore.

We started with the park entrance and sign. We got a great shot of the sign with the magnificent Tetons in the background. A German couple was kind enough to take our picture. The views from the highway were incredible. The day was partly cloudy, adding drama to the scenery. I was simply in awe of the beauty of this place.

Entrance to Grand Teton National Park

Entrance to Grand Teton National Park

Entrance to Grand Teton National Park

Entrance to Grand Teton National Park

Majestic Tetons

Majestic Tetons

We went on to the Mormon barn, one of ‘the most photographed’ buildings. I (of course) skirted the trend and took a picture of one of the homesteads. 🙂 Stunning.

Mormon Village w/Teton Backdrop

Mormon Village w/Teton Backdrop

Mormon Cabin in the Tetons

Mormon Homestead Cabin in the Tetons

We headed over to the park, where I got my National Park stamp. If you didn’t know, there are National Park passports and stamps. Each park has a stamp with their location and the date. You can keep track of the parks you visited. I’m getting quite a collection. However, I almost blew it by leaving my passport in the Visitor’s center. Luckily, I discovered that it was missing and was able to retrieve it!

National Park Passport

National Park Passport

We drove the park loop road and decide to stop for a picnic lunch at the very large Jackson Lake. But before we got there, we found a friend. This little guy wasn’t afraid of us at all. He kept munching away on the grass as I took pictures.

Hello little mule deer

Hello little mule deer

We bought some sandwiches and sat on the shores of Jackson Lake. The day was a bit cool, but we hardly noticed…we were enthralled at what we were seeing and experiencing at this magical place.

Jackson Lake reflecting the Tetons

Jackson Lake reflecting the Tetons

Picnic spot at Jackson Lake

Picnic spot at Jackson Lake

After lunch, we decided to go searching for some of the ‘residents’ of this area. We encountered a herd of bison, but they were so far off that they were hard to see (and photograph). We really wanted to see a moose, so I referred back to my ‘scenic drive guide’ and we headed on to Moose-Wilson road behind the Visitor’s Center. Within ten minutes, we spotted a collection of cars along the road…and YES…there he was! My first MOOSE!

Hello Mr. Moose!

Hello Mr. Moose!

Mr. Moose unconcerned by the paparazzi

Mr. Moose unconcerned by the paparazzi

We moseyed after waving ‘bye’ to the moose and stopped to view the lovely Snake River. It just so happens that one of the views was a favorite of Ansel Adams. Of course, I’m no Ansel Adams, but my iPhone very adequately captured the serene beauty of this valley.

Snake River and Tetons

Snake River and Tetons – An Ansel Adams View

It doesn't get any better than this

It doesn’t get any better than this

We headed back to the resort and then walked to downtown Jackson. Yes, it’s touristy. Yes, we’re tourists. So, we happily window shopped and looked at restaurants in search of a decent meal. One of the shop owners told us that at 6pm, there would be a shoot-out show at the town square. So we moseyed on over and watched the show. Cheesy, but still…fun!

Stagecoach in downtown Jackson

Stagecoach in downtown Jackson

Shootout show in downtown Jackson

Shootout show in downtown Jackson

We had a nice dinner and an ice cream at the local parlor and headed back to the resort. We actually have changed our plans a bit. We liked this place so much that we are staying two more nights and using Jackson for our ‘home’ base for our Yellowstone visit. It’s not much further of a drive than Bozeman to Yellowstone, and we really love our quiet and comfy log cabin. We’ll leave on Friday for parts unknown…we’re still discussing where to go next. But that’s the beauty of an unstructured vacation. We love it!

Today was a great day. But then again, we’ve had over a month of great days…and more to come.

Today's open road

Today’s open road

All this sightseeing and sniffing make the dogs sleepy

All this sightseeing and sniffing make the dogs sleepy