Yellowstone National Park - 2

I forgot to mention yesterday that we were slightly delayed while coming in to Yellowstone.  But now I can mention it again with a better photo of the bison that slowed us down.  Fortunately for us, he was on the other side of the highway.  Imagine the backup behind him in the other lane of traffic.  Shortly after I took this photo and drove slowly past the bison, the person in the car behind me left a few car lengths between him and me, and the bison took advantage of this to change lanes - into oncoming traffic.  That slowed down both lanes.

Later in the day, as we were returning to our campsite, we encountered another bison strolling along the side of the road.  Then as we were driving in the same vicinity as the first bison of the day (BOTD), Jennifer saw another out in a meadow.  That didn't slow traffic too much except for getting around all the cars who wanted to see better for themselves.

When I was here about 50 years ago or so, bears were everywhere along the road as people photographed them and fed them.  Bear jams were everywhere.  The park service realized this was not good for the bears or the people and started prohibiting feeding the bears, and the result is that we haven't seen a bear in Yellowstone yet.

We drove back to Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone after viewing BOTD and the light was great.  We saw both the upper and lower falls as well as the canyon, and it is truly grand.  We could have taken a trail to the bottom of the lower falls but we decided that the 600 steps down might put a crimp in the rest of our day, so we satisfied ourselves with the views from the handy-to-the-road viewpoints.  There are a south rim drive and a north rim drive, and each have viewpoints of the upper and lower falls and each have trails to the brink (top) of the falls as well as to the bottom of the falls.  If we were young enough to take all those steps down and back up, this could be our whole day.

But more of the park awaited us.  We drove north across Dunraven Pass at 8859 feet then down through Tower Roosevelt (Tower Falls and Roosevelt Lodge) and west to Mammoth Hot Springs.  We had lunch at the picnic area and enjoyed watching the elk browsing on the front lawns of the employee housing.  One bull elk seemed to enjoy eating his lunch lying down, and another elk just couldn't seem to find the doorbell on the house, so she laid down in the shade of the house.

We walked around the lower terraces of the Mammoth Hot Springs, and then were tired enough to limit ourselves to the drive through the upper terraces.  The photographs of the terraces don't really do them justice.  You can see the spring water coming out across the terraces and running down the sides across the width of these formations, and it was great to see.

We started back toward our campsite and saw the columnar basalt formations along Sheepeater Cliff.  We tried to also see the Obsidian Cliff but the turnoffs were blocked by road construction.

The roads in Yellowstone are in decent shape.  Many are quite new and good, and some of the older ones like the one that held us up today are being rebuilt to be much nicer than before.  It is nice to see the money being spent in the national parks to improve the infrastructure.  I am sure more could be done and I hope it is as these are such important resources for us to enjoy.

Everywhere we drove so far, we saw evidence of fire damage.  Yellowstone was devastated in 1988 by wild fire, a year after we were last here, and it is coming back but the progress is slow given the high altitude and short growing season here.  Our camp is at 7740 feet so lots of the park is really high.  If you have a lake like the one we are on the shore of, Lake Yellowstone, feeding the Yellowstone River that flows through the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone down 100 and 300 feet falls, and then down the canyon, well, you know there must be a lot of altitude involved.  The park is rather dry here on the east side and really all over.