Thursday, October 23, 2014

Yellowstone and Geezer VII - Yellowstone Day 1

September 28

Today was our first day in Yellowstone.  Even though it was heavily overcast, it wasn’t raining so that was good.  Below is a map of Yellowstone with our day's route highlighted in yellow.  The black lines with X's through them are roads that are closed.

We made our way to the Madison Junction Information Center where we picked up some trail guides and headed east to our first stop at the Terrace Spring hydrothermal area.  It was interesting, but there would be more to come as the day wore on.  Next it was Gibbon Falls and then on to Artist Paintpot which was very interesting.  We moved on to the Norris Geyser Basin where we had our lunch and then hiked the Porcelain Basin Trail which was even more interesting than the Artist Paintpot.  The steam from the geysers against the dark and gray cloud cover made me think of what you would expect in the evil places of Middle Earth of Lord of the Rings fame.  One thing very evident in today's travels was the effects of the devastating fire which burned almost 800,000 acres in 1988; that was over 36% of the park.  There was new growth, but you could also see large areas of dead burned trees.  I asked a ranger if they had done any replanting of trees and he said all the growth was a natural occurrence just as it would have been before man had set foot there.

Gibbon Falls
This first buffalo sighting was a big deal for us, but before the day
 ended we wouldn't even bother stopping for a single buffalo.
You can still see the effects of the devastating fire of 1988. 
That's steam from the hot springs, not smoke behind the burned trees.
Some of the pools at Artist Paint Pot.

A spurt from one of the mud pots.
The Norris Geyser Basin.

After spending quite a while at the Norris Geyser Basin, we continued east to Canyon Junction where we turned north and traveled over the almost 9000 foot Dunraven Pass.  The views were spectacular down into the steep canyons, but low clouds often obscured the view.  After a while the road ran beside the Yellowstone River and we followed that stopping a few times for views of the deep river canyon.   

The Yellowstone River far below.
At Tower Roosevelt we turned east and headed into the Lamar Valley, which is known for its wildlife.  We weren’t disappointed as we soon spotted a large herd of buffalo and then some antelope.  The buffalo were all over and some were right next to the road.  

We drive down into the Lamar Valley which is noted for it's abundance of wildlife.
Our first antelope sighting.

There were large numbers of bison.

By this time it was getting late in the day so we made our way to the Northeastern park entrance and the little town of Silver Gate where we were spending the night in a rustic cabin.  

The town of Silver Gate
This is where we checked in for the cabin we were staying in.

Our cabin is on the right with the 4-Runner in front of it.  We were told
that under no circumstances were we to leave food or even an ice chest
in the car, everything was to be brought inside because of the bears.
For dinner we drove up the road a few miles to Cooke City where we had an excellent dinner.  We are both pretty tired tonight, but it turned out to be an excellent day.  The rain held off all day and even though the temperatures were in the 40's we stayed active enough so we never really got cold.  It has been a while since we have been to Yellowstone and had forgotten just how spectacular the scenery is.  Everywhere you turn is wonderful scenery and beautiful views.  Tomorrow we will retrace today's route with a few side trips, and end up at the Old Faithful Inn where we will be staying for the next three nights.

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