Yellowstone National Park

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We visited Yellowstone for a week in September 1997. This was our first visit, we had planned to go in 1988, but that turned out to be the year of the great fires. The smoke was so heavy that it was unpleasant from 60 miles away, so we gave the park a miss and went on to Glacier NP.

Yellowstone is the nation's first and oldest national park, established in 1872. This was before there was a park service so the park was managed by the Army until World War I, the Engineer's headquarters is still standing. The park is huge, with several developed areas with hotels, campgrounds, stores and gas stations. It is open all year, although in winter access is limited by the snow. Most of the park is wild and rugged.

Yellowstone is great for wildlife watching. Just drive along the roads and look for cars pulled off to the side. The people are watching the wildlife and the wildlife are ignoring the people. The buffalo come quite close to the road. The elk stay farther away. Bears are more wary and harder to spot. The days of bear feeding are over, they are kept strictly off people food. Wolves have been reintroduced to the park, but are still scarce and seldom spotted.

Welcome to Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful (r) along with the bears, is the symbol of the park, rightly so because a majority of the world's geysers are in the park (most of the rest are in Iceland).

We stayed in the Old Faithful Lodge. The lodge was constructed during the winter of 1903-1904 in in the official park rustic style. The original building had electric lights, the fixtures were still in use although they had been rewired. The lobby has a quadruple fireplace (l) of which only one chimney works, three chimneys were blocked during an earthquake. The restaurant is quite good (reservations recommended). we stayed in the old (cheap) part, the bathroom was across the hall.

The park staff attempt to keep the grizzly bears wild and wary of people (rather than having them look upon people as bearers of groceries). We were a long way from this fellow and were not getting any closer. The rangers warn against trying too hard to get a bear to look at you for your photo.

There's plenty of other wildlife in the park. We saw lots of elk and buffalo, there are moose around the lakes but we didn't see any.

Beehive Geyser (r) is not as famous as Old Faithful, but is more impressive if you happen to see it erupt. Its period is 10 - 12 days so you have to be lucky to catch it. We had just finished watching Old Faithful when Beehive went off, compare its height with the people in the photo.

There are many places where boiling hot water runs out onto the ground. In the early morning it steams as it flows toward the river (below).

You can see the steam where the boiling water finds its way into the river (above).

Not all the geysers erupt in a tall plume. The geyser below is typical of many in that it bubbles boiling water and steam in short spurts and jets around its base. The rock formation in the geyser is formed from the minerals in the water.

The travertine dams below are also formed from the minerals in the water as it flows over the dams and evaporates. Where the water changes course and the travertine dries out, it deteriorates.

This is some of the algae found in the boiling hot water from the yellowstone springs. It is adapted to the heat and would die in normal Wyoming temperatures. Yellowstone NP has an agreement with some pharmaceutical firms to allow them to look for organisms in the high temperature environment which produce chemicals which might be useful as drugs, with the idea that the Park Service would share in the profits.

Reflections of the clouds in the thermal pool.

This is Yellowstone Lake, you can't camp around here in a tent because
the bears fish here sometimes.

Wandering photographer,
found all over Yellowstone.

Grand Teton National Park

We also went to Grand Teton National Park. The weather was on the foggy and hazy side. I got a few mountain and lake shots (Jenny lake from the Coulter Bay area).


© 1998 Bruce Blankinship