(Jan) This place is huge! There is just so much to see and do. Camping here has been great. Each campground in the Park is in a forest setting and we’ve stayed one night at Madison and the past four nights at Grant Village.
The wildlife in the park is abundant. Buffalo are so plentiful in the Hayden and Lamar Valleys that it is not unusual to see several hundred grazing in one spot. Often you can watch elk and deer as they graze near the road. We did have two different grizzly bear sightings yesterday. The first was on a hill above the road we were traveling. We saw it briefly before it bounding over the hill. The second sighting was a 2-3 year old male that we watched for 20 minutes as he ate berries and then meandered down to the river for a drink and a soak.
Old Faithful Geyser is everyone's favorite as you can see from the crowds. This impressive geyser erupts every 55 to 75 minutes. One of our favorite places to view the show is from the front porch balcony on the second floor of the Old Faithful Inn. This massive, impressive hotel was built in 1903 and is one of the few remaining log hotels in the country. With it's four story four sided stone fireplace and unique log balconies lining the main lobby, it has been designated a historic Landmark.
The Falls on the Yellowstone River are also a ‘must see’. Upper Falls, which tumbles 109', is followed by Lower Falls plummeting 308' into the canyon below. Stunning views are offered in several spots on either side of the canyon and are worth the hike.
We also visited Kepler Cascades and Virginia Cascades. Near Virginia Cascades is a favorite picnic stop for us that we found a couple of years ago. The winding stream in this lush meadow is an idyllic place.
The West Thumb Geyser Basin was a fun surprise. With a mile of Boardwalk along Yellowstone Lake and through many pools and springs, it is a fascinated glimpse at some very interesting thermal features. A leisurely morning was spent strolling through this wonderland however, we were absolutely amazed at these tourists! Despite numerous warning posted about the fragile landscape and boiling hot water, they were stepping off of the boardwalk to take pictures. There was a visible fault line near the edge where they were standing and it’s surprising that we didn’t see someone fall in!
Driving through the park offers two mountain passes, Dunraven and Craig. Near Craig Pass the highway passes over the Continental Divide twice. At the West Divide there is lovely lake Isa, complete with beautiful lily pads, that is fed by a spring.
Each village is Yellowstone has a Visitors Center or Ranger station. The Center at Canyon is new and very good. We especially liked the huge topographical map of the park that shows the caldera boundary and recent seismic activity. There’s also a good topographical map of Yellowstone Lake at the Fishing Bridge Center that shows the depth of the lake, crater locations and hydrothermal activity.
What an amazing place! I’m sure it would take weeks to see just a portion of it but soon it will be time to move south to the Tetons.