Sunday, August 06, 2006
Yellowstone, I don't even know where to begin. I had already written this post and it was LONGGGG!!!!!!!!!! I realized it was gumming up the system so I went to save it so I wouldn't lose it and guess what happened. I LOST IT!! AHHHHH!!! Ok, I learned my lesson. Yellowstone can't possibly all be described with pictures to boot in a small blogger format. So...
I will give you a brief description of what we saw and did, give you a link to a slideshow of all our photos and leave the rest up to you. To really experience this one, you'll have to see it for yourself.
We rode in along the Shoshone River in the Shoshone National Forest. A quick thanks to the Shoshone river. Thank you so much for spending thousands of years carving a canyon out of the mountains to make a smooth and gradual climb into the park for us. It was very nice.
Yellowstone is a 2.2 million acre park located on top of a very very old volcano. Just 3 miles below the surface is boiling molten lava. This is what creates all of the geothermal elements of the park like the geysers. The park also has a lot of volcanic rock formations and interesting canyons where rivers have worn away at the more fragile volcanic rock.
We entered in the eastern entrance and came upon Yellowstone Lake, the largest lake in North America above 7000 ft. We spent a relaxing afternoon swimming here and drinking beer we had kept cool in the lapping waves.
We had a really nice campsite in Bridge Bay. Which leads me to give credit to Yellowstone for their wonderful hiker/biker system. We had heard Yellowstone was incredibly busy in the summer with bumper to bumper traffic. This wasn't totally accurate to our findings although traffic jams did occur when an elk or bison could be found off the side of the road. Then SUVS would be parked everywhere on the road willy nilly as tourists clamored out of their cars to get the "nature photo". However, the animals usually wouldn't cooperate and lift their heads from eating grass creating endless jams as people waited, yelling, stomping and doing whatever they could to get the animals to look up. These jams didn't bother us too much. We just went into city mode and rode past. We were also told of how they pack people into the campsites like sardines. When we got to Bridge Bay we were really disappointed because this was exactly what it looked like. However, we went it and were informed of the hiker/biker spots. These sites, they reserve for the people who fit the afore mentioned criteria because if the campsite filles up, they can't just tell these people to leave. It might take hours to get to the next campsite and they can't have people wandering around the park after dark. The hiker/biker sites not only are half the price of the other campsites, but they are so much better. They are secluded in the woods, away from all the other campers. Thanks Yellowstone for actually rewarding for bicycling!!!!
We next rode to Canyon village. On the way here we visited the mud volcano which is a large area of land where the ground temperature has risen so high, the trees around have all died because they were burned from the roots up. The area is filled with steaming pits of boiling water created from underground springs being heated up to 200 degrees F.
We then followed the Yellowstone river through Hayden Valley, a beautiful expanse of waving green grass home to large herds of bison and elk...or so we hear. We didn't seen any of them that day. It was still wonderful.
Canyon village is named because it is located right next to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Here the Yellowstone river starts to descend in altitude and has worn away the volcanic rock. The Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls are here as well. This are is breath taking. My photos do not do justice to it at all. The canyon walls are painted with pastel yellows, pinks and browns with a streaming green turquoise river snaking through it.
We then rode to Norris Geyser Basin. We visited here at sunset and I took tons of photos. Steam erupts from the ground everywhere with small streams of water flowing green over the plain due to thermophilic algae which thrives in hot temps. Geyers spurt out of the ground at random times. Unfortunately we missed the eruptions, but the scene was still amazing.
We then rode to Mammoth Hot Springs at the northern end of the park. Mammoth descends a thousand feet from Norris. The area is more arid with sagegrass dotting the yellow hillsides.
Here the Gardener River flows into Boiling creek which waters are literally just below boiling. Where the very cold waters of the Gardener river meet the boiling creek the temperature creates a happy medium of hot tub conditions. We spent two afternoons here soaking in the water and RELAXING!!! I really enjoyed it. We also spent a day hiking up Lava Creek which provided beautiful vistas of the surrounding hills.
We left Yellowstone through the north entrance into MONTANA our 8th state!!! It is always exciting and invigorating to enter a new state. This was especially so for me. I love Montana. I've only been here once before, but if I was ever going to leave the Great Lakes state, it would be here. Although I haven't been to the west coast yet, so who knows.
I realize this is all incredibly brief but it must be so. Please visit our flickr website to view the full slide show of all our pics.
Posted by Andrea at 10:38 AM