Jun 19, 2014
|After leaving Grand Teton National Park we headed along the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway and into the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park. We were not the only ones thinking today was a good day to visit the park as there were lots of other people entering the park today, too!
Parts of this drive created some cheek-biting wheel-gripping anxiety for me but I am proud to say I drove the entire day without having to succumb to my fear of heights. Actually, as it turned out, our biggest problem was finding room at the pullouts to park. We also quickly discovered that although there were tent sites available there were no RV accessible sites left for us to spend the night in the park. We would have to see all we could today and then leave the park before dark to find a RV site someplace else. Thankfully it stays light well into the evening up here in the north.
Despite the crowds at the pullouts and the “bumper-to-bumper” cars in many areas of the park we saw lots and enjoyed our day. (Side note… sitting in a line of traffic makes Willis about as nutty as heights make me. I had to speak calmly to him a couple of times today just as he speaks calmly to me on those skyline drives we seem to be encountering so many of lately.)
We saw and learned lots of interesting facts during our Yellowstone adventure. A couple of things I found particularly interesting…
1. “Yellowstone contains approximately one-half of the world’s hydrothermal features. There are over 10,000 hydrothermal features, including over 300 geysers, in the park.” It seems like everywhere we turned we saw steam, bubbling mud, or water gushing into the air.
2. “With a surface area of 132 square miles, Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake at high elevation (i.e., more than 7,000 ft.) in North America. It is a natural lake, situated at 7,733 ft. above sea level. It is roughly 20 miles long and 14 miles wide with 141 miles of shoreline. It is frozen nearly half the year. It freezes in late December or early January and thaws in late May or early June.” This is a beautiful lake and although we didn’t get into it there was no doubt that water is cold!
We never saw a moose, or a bear, but we did see lots of families of elk, American bison, and a lone gray wolf. Seeing the gray wolf (I didn’t have time to take his picture before he got across the clearing and into the trees) was a real treat. We learned that…“There were no wolves in Yellowstone in 1994. The wolves that were reintroduced in 1995 and 1996 thrived and there are now over 300 of their descendants living in the Greater Yellowstone Area.” We feel so fortunate to have seen one!
At the end of the day we exited the park via the north entrance. That meant we crossed the narrow and very lofty bridge over the Gardiner River. I did not take a picture but you can see it at https://www.flickr.com/photos/80651083@N00/248600285/ if you are interested. The nice part is that after you cross the bridge you come to Mammoth Hot Springs, which is worth crossing the bridge to see.
Finally, after cramming as much into one day as we could, and knowing we needed to find someplace to sleep for the night, we headed out of the park and off to Bozeman. We stopped at the first RV park (Sunrise Campground) we came to in Bozeman and, luckily, were able to get a site since someone had just called a few minutes before we pulled in and cancelled their reservation. This park is packed full of people camping in RVs and tents, we feel lucky to have squeezed in.
Mark and Julia gave Willis a Father’s Day gift certificate from Ted’s Montana Grill this year, so we unhitched Mongo, fed Blayde, and then headed into the middle of Bozeman to enjoy a yummy bison dinner. It was the perfect ending to an amazing day.