Yellowstone National Park

On Wednesday, I planned to get up early for sunrise photography, and to start driving up to Yellowstone.  But I woke to rain in Jackson, and slept in another hour.

I drove up through Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway and entered Yellowstone National Park at the south entrance.  I continued north, and rain turned into snow.  It was 34 degrees and the roads warm enough to not have trouble with ice.

Click on any image to enlarge.

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I tried to be a tourist and visit a roadside sight or two.  Here’s Lewis Falls, with me standing on snow, watching the snow fall.  Did I mention it was 34 degrees?

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Soon, I decided it was best to just keep driving on to Old Faithful.  By the time I got there, the snow had subsided, and there was just a little bit of rain.  I arrived a few minutes before the famous geyser erupted.  Not the photo I imagined with a brilliantly colorful sky in the background, but this is more of a snapshot anyway.  In the peak of summer (and in better weather), you would see thousands more people surrounding Old Faithful.

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Peak season begins Memorial Day weekend, and I was there just before that.  So it was beginning to get crowded, but nothing like the park sees later on.  Being a week or two before the busy season begins also means that not every road (or campground or lodge) is open—but it’s still a great time to visit.  The creeks, rivers, and waterfalls were really flowing.

Here’s the inside of the historic Old Faithful Inn, with people waiting to enter the dining room.  Some consider the inn the largest log building in the world.

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I walked around for awhile in the rain in the Upper Geyser Basin in the Old Faithful area.  It was nice to get out and walk around.  Here’s one of the pools in the area:  Morning Glory Pool.  Pro tip:  bring your polarizing filter to cut down on reflections in the water.  I left mine at home.

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My destination for the night was Canyon Lodge, so I kept on driving north (no more falling snow!), past the other other geyser basins.  Here’s an overlook showing the Norris Geyser Basin in the distance.

It’s so surreal to see the steam rising from the various pools and geysers.

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By late afternoon, I finally arrived in Canyon Village, and checked into the lodge.  It was still rainy and overcast, but I ventured on to see the canyon that gives the park its name.  Here, you see the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, as it flows into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

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Here’s a closer view.

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If you go to Yellowstone, don’t do what I did and visit for only a couple of days.  Spend a week.  I’ve been to Yellowstone before, so I didn’t feel obligated to “visit everything” on this trip.  I’ll hopefully return again soon and spend more time.

Day two dawned with expectations of more of the poor weather from the previous day.  Fortunately, it was slightly better than that.  It was mostly cloudy, and the rain that fell only lasted for a short time.

I continued north on day two, past Mammoth Hot Springs, and then east to the Lamar Valley.  (The direct road was not yet open for the season.)  The Lamar Valley is known for its wildlife (and wolf pack, which I did not see).  My next post will include the wildlife.

Here’s an infrared photo of the view towards a brooding storm over the Abasaroka Range, the tallest peaks in the park.

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As I returned to Canyon, I stopped at Mammoth Hot Springs (the park headquarters) and walked around the springs.

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Here’s the view of the hotel and headquarters area of Mammoth.  The red-roofed buildings on the right are the old US Army fort.

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