After being at Yellowstone National Park, I feel like I should have a T-shirt that says, “I survived Yellowstone.” I might have gotten one if I had seen one. Hmmmm….maybe I should market that. Our first national park is a place of intense, alluring beauty and yet full of natural dangers. Our second day at Yellowstone just happened to be our 33rd wedding anniversary and we set out with anticipation and carefulness. (You can read about our first day here.) Such gorgeous scenery.
Since we were there in early June, there was still snow on the mountains. We commented on their beauty, not realizing that the road would take us right up to it. We couldn’t resist stopping and throwing snow at each other on our anniversary.
Here’s Sherman (our trusty truck) in the beautiful surroundings.
We stopped for our picnic lunch high along the Washburn Range. It really looked like a scene from The Sound of Music.
Tiny wildflowers grew in this high altitude.
I told Matt that I wished we had a photo of us eating our lunch while looking out at the mountains. It took several tries, but he got a selfie from behind us!
Our next stop was Upper and Lower Falls along the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Each place we went to had warning signs. I felt either brave or foolish to continue walking.
We saw this rainbow against the canyon wall near the Upper Falls.
The Lower Falls are the famous ones and I could see why. How amazing!
Just a perfect place for an anniversary pic. I had learned from the previous afternoon that the sun is fierce at Yellowstone. Time for my adventure hat.
It was the middle of the day and the lighting wasn’t that great for a photo. I hoped that on one of Matt’s vacation days that we could come back to see the falls in the morning light. Still pretty in the middle of the day though.
We headed further to drive around Yellowstone Lake. Gorgeous reflections.
Even along the lake, there would be a random steam vent. Constant reminders of the volcano just waiting to erupt again.
Dragon’s mouth, a belching, spewing cave was another example of dangerous beauty.
It’s a long drive around Yellowstone and we did a lot of it that day. We headed home, exhausted and yet ready for more. We stopped once more and saw this raven’s nest. Babies were everywhere in the park in early June.
The next day, we set out with the purpose of seeing animals. We heard there were wolf pups to be seen but that you had to get there early. We got up early and to the sighting spot at 7:00 after having to drive an hour to get there. Lots of people were there, but they were starting to leave. “You just missed them by about 15 minutes,” someone said to us. The pups had gone back into the den and were resting. We thought maybe they would take a short nap and we waited…and waited. At one point, a man said, “There are a couple of buffalo heading our way. We should probably make our way slowly to a different spot.” Sure enough, there were two beasts lumbering towards the group. The man continued, “I don’t think they will be any problem, especially if no one is wearing red.” I looked at Matt. He was wearing red! Oh no. I thought of my parents’ parrot who hates the color red and will attack it. I thought I’d offer Matt my jacket to cover his red shirt. That’s when I realized I had a red shirt on too! Yikes! Then the man and Matt both laughed. It was a joke. Hmmmm… not very nice with all the signs around warning of buffalo attacks. After waiting a long time, I convinced Matt that maybe we should move on and see what other animals might be out in Lamar Valley. I loved the lighting on these bison with their young.
Many times as we progressed on the Lamar Valley road, there were traffic jams as people stopped to view animals in the distance. They had high powered scopes and would point off in the distance explaining that a tiny dot was a wolf or bear. We were glad we had our binoculars, but most of the time the dots still looked pretty much like dots to me. Once I even had the opportunity to look through one of the scopes and it still looked like a dot, but moved a bit. My camera equipment was sorely lacking for such a time. But I did see this wolf and got this shot.
We continued on the drive and were almost to the northeast entrance to the park. As we followed another pick up truck, it suddenly pulled to a stop. They excitedly told us there was a moose to be seen. I expected another dot on the hillside, but this one was easily seen. What a beauty and my first sighting of a moose.
After turning around at the gate and heading though the valley again, I admitted to being a bit frustrated with looking at dots in the distance. “Please, let’s not stop anymore where people are with scopes. I want to see Old Faithful. Of course, I’ve never seen a grizzly. That’s they only thing I want to stop for.” I truly didn’t think we would see one. It was the heat of the day now. As we passed another group stopped along the road, we slowed and asked what they were looking at. You guessed it… grizzly.
I admit it was a thrill to think that powerful beast was in the same general area as I was. I took the photo of the mom and her cubs from the safely of our truck. We made our way to Old Faithful and got there just before it blew.
Here we are after it was done. Notice our red shirts. lol
There was a lovely sunset to end the day.
Matt had to work a few days and then we had two vacation days. First we decided to go to Norris Geyser Basin. It was said to be the hottest and most dangerous part of the park. As we drove there (there is a lot of driving to be done in such a large park), we were stopped in a traffic jam. Matt stayed with the truck and I walked to the front to see what was going on. I got there just in time to see a grizzly mother walk across the road with her cubs. There were rangers there keeping people back, but it still seemed too close for comfort. I snatched a quick pic and ran back to the truck
We got to the Norris Geyser Basin and were surprised to see many emergency vehicles there. We didn’t know why and tried to get the information from the woman who worked in the bookstore. She said, “I can’t tell you anything. But maybe there is something on the internet.” We kept going and I saw this equipment along the way. A reminder of the danger of the place.
There were signs everywhere stating that the ground was not stable and to stay on the boardwalks. The warnings were dire of burning or death and showed illustrations of a boy falling in. There was no way I would veer off of the path. Here Matt looked over the Porcelain Basin. The earth was steaming and bubbling all over the place.
I heard one person say, “There is no way I’m walking down in that basin.” And I suppose that would have been the safest, but we walked on down, staying on the boardwalk.
The entire time, I was nervous about falling off the boardwalk. So, I stayed in the center. The bubbling earth had a strange beauty.
In one way, I could almost imagine why someone would walk off the boardwalk. That beauty was enticing. And I watched amazed at how people would do almost anything to get a selfie. You know I love photography. But it is dangerous. As soon as that camera gets in front of my face, I lose what my son calls, “situational awareness.” I’ve been known to start backing out into a road while trying to get a good shot. Thankfully, Matt is always there and he knows to watch for me. And since I know this about myself, I am more aware too. But truly, I was in no way tempted to walk off that boardwalk. Later, we found out that a young man had done just that the day before. His body could not be recovered after he broke through the thin crust and fell into boiling acidic water. I’m glad that I didn’t know that while we were there. Instead, I just stayed where I was supposed to be and looked with awe at the terrifyingly beautiful sights.
After leaving the hot geyser area, I was happy to put my tired feet into the Nez Perce Creek.
We drove on and ate our picnic dinner next to this sign.
There were more fantastic sights along Firehole Lake Drive.
It was time for the drive back to our camper. But first we stopped where others were looking at a dot on the hill. Matt shot this quick photo before I got out of the truck. Our first sighting of a mountain goat.
Before we knew it, people gathered around Matt asking what he was looking at. Of course, by this time, the goat had laid down and was a tiny white dot. Matt patiently described where to look and helped others look through the binoculars for quite some time. I jokingly told him later that when he retires, he should become a tour guide at some park and I could make art and sell it. Actually, it’s not a bad plan!
To end the first vacation day, Matt wanted to take a side road back.
We learned that it was the original road to and from the first entrance of the park.
I thought about all the stagecoaches that jarred along this road. It would have taken a lot longer to explore the massive park on this kind of road.
Matt had one more day of vacation for us to spend in Yellowstone. I determined that I wanted to see the Lower Falls in the morning. I had read that if you got there at the right time, you could see a rainbow at the falls. Another early start and long drive got us there to see people lined up with cameras on tripods. Matt wondered if we missed it, but my theory was that since they were still there, we had a chance. After about 5 minutes, the colors emerged.
I still get excited thinking about witnessing such a gift from God.
We did a lot of hiking that day with elevation changes. Our last one was the Hellroaring trail that took us down to a suspension bridge.
I was thankful that it was a downhill hike to get to the swaying bridge across the roaring creek.
Unfortunately, it was all uphill on the way back! Flowers and animals got my mind off the steep climb back.
Our time at Yellowstone was over. My mind was overwhelmed by the startling beauty of the place. It made me realize that this planet that I sometimes take for granted is an amazing work of God. I’m thankful that most of the time I’m not even aware of the dangerous state of nature. Instead, I enjoy the beauty and leave managing the planet to the Creator! Did I like Yellowstone? Oh yes!
See more posts about our Great Westward Trip! Starting on the trip, Badlands, Mt Rushmore, Devils Tower, Yellowstone- Day One