Yellowstone is a must see for every living human being. There is something for everyone here. I love seeing the wildlife and yet also the peaceful scenery. I love the waterfalls but also the stillness of the lakes. I love Hayden Valley and yet also the enormous mountain ranges…and then there is the Yellowstone Grand Canyon. The bottom line is I love Yellowstone.
Today I wanted to show Jamie a glimpse of some of my favorite places in the Park. Although it is impossible to do this in one day I wanted to give it my best shot. The ultimate goal was to reach Mammoth Hot Springs. We headed north from Fishing Bridge for a stop at Upper Falls. Last year I discovered one can stand at the brink of Upper Falls and I have since been fascinated with that location. The water is roaring so fast that even a daredevil like me wouldn’t dare touch it and then in the blink of an eye the earth falls out from under the river creating Upper Falls…water then splashes hundreds of feet in the air after meeting back up with the river some three hundred feet below. It is amazing.
From Upper Falls it was back on the road again…but not for long. The wildlife was out in force today and merely five miles from the falls, we spotted two nice bull elk in velvet. One of which was a 5x5, the other a respectable 4x4. We loaded up with digital photos as they grazed and moseyed around. A mile down the road, still in Hayden Valley, we joined a group of tourist watching a wolf from a distance. Buffalo were out in full force but the wolf seemed to be content feeding on a previous kill.
Our next wildlife treat was in the form of a black bear! Just shy of Tower Falls this black bear was taking it easy feeding in the meadow. A park ranger was on hand to corral over zealous tourist…that didn’t include Jamie and I. I have learned my lesson when it comes to a bear…that’s another story but they get my respect! We really enjoyed watching it from a distance though. Later we were able to see two more black bears!
The wildlife was on the move today and our timing couldn’t have been better. It was elk, bear, a wolf, more bear and then as we stood at the overlook facing Tower Falls, we were able to see a beautiful bald eagle and two little ones in their nest which towered over the falls. Just as we snapped the first picture, it was bye-bye for the eagle. I asked Jamie, “How would you feel if you were one of those babies and it came time for Momma Eagle to push you out of the nest?”
Along the route to Mammoth Falls via Tower-Roosevelt loop situates a 50 million year old Petrified Tree! History tells of three petrified trees where the lone tree stands today. However, eager visitors in search of the perfect souvenir destroyed the other two trees and in the early 1900’s a fence was placed around the remaining tree. After all, the March 1, 1872 Act of Congress was put into place to preserve and protect the area and for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.
It was only fifty three miles by the odometer to reach our destination. However, due to the enjoyment of seeing the natural wonders and various species of wildlife it took us over three hours to accomplish our mission.
Jamie had never been in Montana and although technically part of Mammoth is located in Montana, we decided to visit Gardiner. We grabbed a quick bite at the Two Bit Salon and back into the park we headed.
The kid in me caused me to scare Jamie once again but I talked her into climbing the North Gate entrance arch for a photo opportunity! It was my first time to the North entrance. I’ve now entered Yellowstone via the North, East and South entrances.
No sooner than 1 mile into the Park we spotted two Big Horn sheep: one Ram and one Ewe. What I would give to have balance like the Big Horn sheep. We watched in awe as they climbed up and down a rock cliff. The Ram even dared to come down to the Yellowstone River to quench his thirst. At that point we were only twenty yards from him!
It was back to Mammoth Hot Springs for a tour around the boardwalk. But before we arrived, we crossed the 45th Parallel of Latitude and I had to stop. The 45th Parallel is the halfway point between the Equator and North Poll.
Back to Mammoth Hot Springs…along the boardwalk, tourists are dumbfounded by the thermal activities such as Devils Thumb, Living Color and Liberty Cap. It is here that heat-loving microorganisms known as “thermophiles” live. Billions of thermophiles create an ever changing sculptures ranging from what appears to resemble stair steps, cones, hills and valleys.
What a day it was today! All calculated we drove 102 miles and were able to see over one dozen species of animals including elk, black bear, a wolf, coyote, bald eagle, antelope, otter, muskrat, Big Horn sheep, mule deer, swans and our Wyoming’s flag symbol, the buffalo!
Where else can you do that!