This post follows straight on from the previous one as it was a bit much to include both the Grand Teton and Yellowstone Parks in one post!
Yellowstone has been on my bucket list for a long time so it was exciting to heading off there from Jackson Hole. It is the oldest national park in the US (1872) and some say, the world. The road we took is closed during winter and there was still plenty of snow around as can be seen through the car windscreen below. Lake Lewis (lower left was still frozen too). This high in the mountains the winters are very long…..
As an aside, the National Park entrance fees are quite steep as you might be able to see from the entrance board on top left. $35 for each park unless you buy an annual pass which covers them all for $80 – well worth doing if you are thinking of a trip like this.
Much of Yellowstone is part of a giant caldera and there are many geothermal features – hot springs, steam vents, mud spots and geysers – a bit like around Rotorua in NZ but on a big scale. Almost everywhere you go you can see steam somewhere around. The most famous geyser is Old Faithful (top right) which erupts reasonably predictably every 1-2 hours. We arrived to see the end of an eruption and were very surprised to see how many other people had also arrived to see the same thing!
All the parks we have visited have had various warnings about bears. We hoped to catch a glimpse of one (from the car!) but didn’t, so viewed one in a wildlife display centre just outside the park . The centre also had a display of bins and coolers which bears have destoyed in order to find food. Some of the parks have bear vaults which bears can’t get into and encourage hikers and campers to store food, toiletries and other bear attracting items in them. Bear spray is also available everywhere with instructions on how to use it. We saw several hikers carrying it on their belts. Maybe someone will invent a snake spray……
Our bison hunt really came to fruition in Yellowstone – we came very close to several groups which included quite new calves. We noticed some bison lying fairly close to steam vents or hot pools and wondered whether they liked the warmth! They don’t seem scared of humans and the park advice is that they can be safely viewed from 25 metres or so, whereas the recommendation for bear viewing is 100 metres.
I’m afraid the picture of the eagle above was not shot in the wild…….
Yellowstone has superb scenery too. I took many photos in the park but have included this one of Yellowstone Lake as I like the contrast of the partially frozen lake with the big sky above. It apparently freezes right over by early December except where there are some hot springs. A stunning sight.
The day we left Yellowstone and drove eastward continued to have superb scenery at almost every turn. Steep valleys with waterfalls and high mountain passes still with deep snow – a fantastic day.
We had another wildlife sighting too – a bit far in the distance for my camera but you might be just able to make out the moose in the right pic below…
We spent the night at Sheridan before heading towards Rapid City to go on to Mount Rushmore to view the famous presidential rock sculptures. As we did the weather forecasts became more and more dire – a big adverse weather pattern across much of inland USA – tornadoes in some areas, torrential rain and flooding in others. Cold of course too. We were in the heavy rain section and could barely see much past the side of the road at times. We were passing the Black Hills of Dakota but could not see them at all. Maybe they are really red with white spots! The closest we came to the sculptures is in the lower (slightly blurry) pic below!
Oh well, if there’s one thing we can’t do anything about it’s the weather!
Now to fly from Denver back to California and the final few days of our tour. Might be a bit warmer!