Thursday, October 18, 2001

Hello from West Yellowstone, Montana!

Start time: 0730

Start odometer: 19733

Weather: Thin clouds to start, mostly cloudy, but some sun during the day.  Temperature 26 degrees F., peaking at 39 degrees.

Today I explored more of Yellowstone, and saw more wildlife, hot springs and geysers than one can imagine!  I stopped in West Yellowstone, Montana this evening to be in position to complete my tour of the park.  Thirty-three miles of road are closed for construction or snow, but I am taking advantage of the remaining available roads.  West Yellowstone is at the west entrance of Yellowstone Park, and has many services for the tourist.  It is quiet this time of year, but many of the shops are still open.


As alluded to in the previous paragraph, I spent much of the day walking the paths surrounding hot springs and geysers.  I drove from Gardiner to the Mammoth Hot Springs section of the park to find many more elk eating and making strange vocal calls (I do not know exactly what to call the yells they uttered.)  The drive took me past the trails around the hot springs I hiked through yesterday, and with the cooler temperature, the steam was more prevalent.  And although it was cold, it was more quiet and peaceful.


The drive took me past waterfalls that were framed by ice formations and on top of the snow that had fallen overnight.  Along much of the road were burnt tree trunks, as well as new growth, the result of the major fire experienced here in 1988.  I was then led to several areas of hot springs and geysers, with trails that allowed me close access to the interesting rock and mineral formations, colors, smells, and sounds.


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Ice and snow covered sections of road were scattered throughout the park.


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Remnants of the 1988 fire.

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Lone standing tree waiting for decomposition.

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Signs such as this are posted in any area with hot springs.

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Many vents exist around the major crater.

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Countless wonderful varieties of colors appear  in the pools.

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Though this represents a small portion of this hot spring field, you can see the extraordinary amount of geothermal activity.


My next drive was on a road that travels along The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  The Yellowstone River flows through the canyon, and the view of the upper and lower falls is spectacular!  The colors of the canyon walls are very interesting to see, as explained by the panel in the first picture below.

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Panel describing the canyon.

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The Upper falls of the Yellowstone River at the the top, with the deep canyon below. 

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Close-up of the Yellowstone River.

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Some of the trails were posted closed, but still accessible.

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Another view of the canyon.

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The Lower Falls of the Yellowstone

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Another view of the falls, including the surrounding landscape.

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The Upper Falls.

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Another view.

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The colorful walls of the canyon.

During a visit to an overlook I met Mike and Val from Devon, England.  Traveling in a camper, they are on a one year visit to tour the United States, and may request to extend it another year.  They are headed to the northwest, so I may see them again!  I also met a group of six people who work for Montana Conservation Corps, part of AmeriCorps.  They had recently been working on trail maintenance nearby, and since they finished early, were touring the park.  I thanked them and their group for the work they do keeping trails open for tourists like me!

Further south, I stopped at more of the hot spring exhibits, as well as other sights along the road.

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A view looking inside one of the vents.

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The path through the springs.

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The car beside a hot spring.

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Many pretty colors!

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Historic Fishing Bridge, where many people stood elbow to elbow fishing until 1973, when it was prohibited for fear that the trout population was being greatly reduced.

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I traveled above 5000 - 6000 feet for much of the day.

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Another waterfall along the road.

My final stop for the day was Old Faithful!  The Park Service posted that the geyser would spray at 1724, with a ten minute variance either way, so I waited around for the event.  A few years back I found a web cam showing Old Faithful, so I called my sister in Connecticut.  After a few minutes to find the camera. my sister saw me!  I had to hang up the phone (bad battery) but we were able to watch Old Faithful "together!"


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Waiting for the geyser, I did a photo shoot exchange with another couple..

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Here is the start of the eruption.  There is a crow on the lower right portion of the picture.

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It was an impressive sight!  It started at 1732 and lasted for about eight minutes,

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The geyser as it was finishing this session.

I will drive back into the park tomorrow through the west entrance, and after finishing my adventures in the park, will head to the south entrance, then onto the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway.  This will take me into the Grand Teton National Park.  I am not too familiar with this park, so I am anxious to learn about it.  Thank you for visiting!


Routes traveled today: US 89 - Yellowstone Park Roads - US 20

Lodging: One Horse Motel -

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Copyright 2001 Igor N. Nikishin

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