Thursday, September 24, 2015

Crossing America (Yellowstone)

July 20, 2015

When we woke up early in the morning the kind hotel staff in Red Lodge, Montana had the name of our town along with our "home" time up on the wall.  And they told us that we had to stop at the first pull-out spot on our way into Yellowstone to meet the squirrels and chipmunks.  They were the sweetest people.

As the sun was just peeking up, we grabbed our breakfast to go and drove to the Beartooth Highway.  

It was one of the most beautiful drives of our entire trip.  I think my mouth was hanging open the whole way up the twisty steep road. 

Like the kind ladies suggested, we stopped at the first pull-over and the squirrels and chipmunks were one of their most favorite things.
(*We all wore a touch of yellow--for Yellowstone. :)

Then we kept on going up.  This is looking down on the walkway where we had just taken the picture above.

And the top.  We could not believe that we were just driving along the top of a mountain.  Unreal.
Lake pouring into lake.  Snow.  Wild flowers.  Crisp blue skies.  Towering mountain peaks in the distance.  Breathtaking.

At some point I stopped taking photos because it all seemed so uncapturable.  I think it took us two hours to drive to the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone and I'm not sure I've ever gasped so many times in a row at the sights.  (And we saw maybe only a handful of other cars along the way.)

It wasn't long before we saw herds of buffalo.

They were just walking up the road.

We stopped at the Roosevelt Lodge to pick up a few snacks (oatmeal creme pies) before heading to Tower Fall.

And then we drove on to Artist's Point to view the Lower Falls.

By mid-morning Yellowstone was quite crowded.  We spent a lot of time driving around looking for a quiet place.  Along the way we spotted this gray wolf pouncing in a meadow.

We found (and smelled) some of the sulfurous hot springs.
(Beza's holding J's hand--see her shadow. ;) )

After dinner we had coffee and hot chocolates at the Old Faithful Inn before watching Old Faithful erupt. (Watch it HERE.) 
 (The fiddler.)

It was way bigger than we had imagined.

We spent the night near Old Faithful at a Snow Lodge Cabin.

July 21, 2015

The next morning we woke up before the sun to make the most of our day (and to avoid the crowds of yesterday).  We stopped by the Grand Prismatic but it was so early and steamy that we could only catch glimpses of the colors.  (That might explain why there was only one other person there.)

Then we drove to the Hayden Valley to see the morning buffaloes.  (The park is so humongous that it took almost an hour to get there.)

You always have to be on the lookout for buffalo, they can appear on the road from out of nowhere.  We met this guy on the way.

As we entered the valley, this one clomped down the road right beside us.  J turned off the van so that we could just listen to his feet.

Buffaloes in the fog.

They make a deep-throated grumble that I think I would like to use sometimes early in the morning. ;)

We watched them do their thing from the safety of our van.

Next we found Dragon's Mouth Cave.  (For real.  Hot smelly water rushes out in waves from the mouth of the cave.)

And Mud Volcano. (Muddy brown water constantly bubbling.)

We stopped at Yellowstone Lake for a cup of coffee.
I'm not going to lie, the climb back up the bank (while trying not to fill my shoes with dirt and carrying coffee) almost did me in. ;)
We spied our first elk as were leaving Yellowstone on our way to the Grand Tetons.

When you ask our kids what their favorite part of the trip was, they almost always say, "Yellowstone."  The mighty buffaloes up close were amazing.

Previous Trip Posts:
Crossing America: Trip Stats
Crossing America (Getting There)
Crossing America (First Stops: From The Badlands to Devil's Tower)

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