A visit to Yellowstone National Park

27 05 2009

I’ve been to Yellowstone National Park this long weekend (Memorial day weekend). It is the first national park of America. It is well known for its geysers, hot springs and wilderness. It’s a huge park (around  9000 sq km) and offers wide range of breathtaking landscape – beautiful lakes, rivers/creeks, mountain ranges, valleys etc.

Everyone who has been there says that one needs at least a week to enjoy the park (there is no maximum limit, though) and at least 3 days in order to cover the top attractions. We had only a day and half to spend inside the park as the rest of the weekend was taken by the long drive to the park from Seattle (12 hours).

Since we are not into any activities like fishing, hiking, camping etc, we could cover considerable number of attractions in that short time. Nevertheless, we felt that 2 full days would have been better.

Unfortunately, the weather on Sunday, the day inside the park, was bad – it was so cloudy in the morning and it rained from the afternoon. Despite the bad weather and short time and other  inconveniences, misjudgments etc, it was a good trip.

Note: I gracefully admit my defeat and stop trying to describe the  beauty of the nature’s wonders in words. I let my pictures do the job.

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Montana Landscape

Even long before we reached the park, the drive in Montana on I-90 was spectacular, especially the Pintler Scenic Loop part.

Our first stop in the park was at Mammoth Hot Springs near the North Entrance. We absolutely loved it. It’s gorgeous!

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Mammoth Hot Springs

Oh, I forgot to mention: We saw a couple of Mountain Goats on the way to Hot Springs.

Cistern Spring

Cistern Spring

Our next stop was at Norris Geyser Basin. It was beautiful too. We reached there at dusk just before the sunset and it gave us a memorable experience.

On Sunday, a few Bison greeted us soon after we entered the park (through West entrance).

Fountain Paint Pots

Fountain Paint Pots

Our first destination that day was Lower Geyser Basin. There we have seen a few fountain paint pots in addition to many geysers.

Then we stopped at Midway Geyser Basin on the way to Old Faithful.

At Midway Geyser Basin

Firehole River

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Excelsior Geyser

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Turquoise Pool

Firehole river flowed beside this basin, which added to the kaleidoscope.

We loved the Excelsior geyser, with its crater.

Besides a few geysers, Midway basin also consisted of a few colorful springs.

Old Faithful is the most reliable geyser, and hence the most popular, with eruptions spaced around 90 minutes apart.

Watch the eruption below: 

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Old Faithful Lodge

We also took a quick peek into The Old Faithful lodge nearby. It’s a wooden structure built in 1920’s and looks great. We just walked around a bit and spent a few minutes at the Cafeteria inside.

I think the next destination was West Thumb Geyser Basin. Here we could see a herd of deer. More than the geysers (By this time geysers no more excited us), the view of the massive Yellowstone lake was magnificent.

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After we left that point, we saw an Elk by the roadside. It sat calmly as if posing for a photo session, while people were clicking their cameras at it.

We drove along the Yellowstone Lake for around 20 miles.

Some part of the lake was frozen and we paused at a few viewpoints to take in its beauty.

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Frozen Yellowstone Lake

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Dragon's Mouth Spring

The clouds darkened when we were on the way to Mud Volcano and they broke into steady rain while we were sneaking up to the Volcano and Dragon’s Mouth Spring.

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Bison in Hayden Valley

After that we drove along side Hayden Valley and caught sight of a few bison on the way. By that time I had enough of bison and was hoping to see some other species – but not much luck.

Our next stop was the highlight of the park – Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It’s stunning.  It’s supposedly much smaller than the Grand Canyon of Arizona, which is one of the World’s top attractions. I haven’t been to Arizona canyon ,so this is my first experience with a canyon.

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Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

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Tower Fall

We ended the day by taking a look at Tower Fall. We couldn’t go down the trail to the base of the falls, as it was already 8 pm and there were no people around. I was afraid, lest any animal attacks me.. 🙂

The drive to the Tower Falls from the Grand Canyon was very good – actually a little frightening too as we were driving to the edge of the cliff at a very high altitude (around 10,000 ft). There is still lot of snow in the park.

While we were leaving the park, we saw a herd of bison, which are running and playing. It was quite a sight. There were a couple of baby bison too.

Talking about animals, we might have seen some wild buffalos too. It’s a bit difficult to distinguish between bison and buffalo from a distance.

This sounds like a really good trip. Isn’t it? But I have my own list of disappointments and disasters:

  • I didn’t see any bears
  • Couldn’t go to Lower Falls near Grand Canyon
  • Couldn’t get down to the bottom of the Tower Fall
  • Forgot to buy a souvenir
  • My camera broke down Sunday evening

Wah 😦