How does one deal with the vast and amazing place that Yellowstone National Park is? And how can one do justice to it in less than two days? This is my feeble attempt.
We drove from the east coast to visit my Mother in Bozeman and to see parts of the country out there. We spent much of our time in Montana. You can see those photos by clicking HERE, but I have not yet posted photo from our few days in Glacier National Park.
We left the warm hospitality of my brother and his wife in Bozeman early in the morning and drove to Mammoth in the NW corner of Yellowstone. I start the photos here with a simplified view of part of the Upper Terrace, as seen above.
Also in Mammoth was Palette Springs. The image below is composed of 12 photos. You can click it and explore it in detail. You can double click to zoom way in and use the left mouse to pan around. You can also use the + and – keys to zoom and the arrow keys to scroll. Please wait for the resolution to download.
There were some strange and hauntingly beautiful scenes in Mammoth.
Our visit was somewhat compromised by road closings. The road from Mammoth to Norris was closed as was the road immediately south of Old Faithful. We managed but found backtracking somewhat frustrating given the limited time we had allocated for this part of our one month odyssey.
We travelled as far south of Mammoth as we could. We got only a few miles, but far enough for some nice views of the Gallatin Range. In the top image below you can see Canada Geese coming in for a landing on Swan Lake.
It was late September so the aspens were colorful. Here is another panorama that shows Bunsen Peak in the background. You can zoom way in and explore it in detail. You can double click to zoom way in and use the left mouse to pan around. You can also use the + and – keys to zoom and the arrow keys to scroll. Please wait for the resolution to download.
Here is another view of Bunsen Peak from an angle that makes it look more peak like.
We returned to Mammoth and headed east toward Tower. Along the Blacktail Plateau I got my first bison. We would see many more in the northern parts of Yellowstone.
Below is a view of the Blacktail Plateau.
In Tower near the junction of the road to the NE entrance, I got another bison, this one walking deliberately.
In Tower is Tower Fall seen in the photo on the left below. The photo on the right shows the Yellowstone River flowing north in this area.
We made a bee line from Tower to Canyon Village where we viewed the Upper and Lower Falls from several viewpoints. The Upper Falls are on the left below and the Lower Falls are on the right.
Here is another view of the Lower Falls putting them in more context.
This is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It is quite dramatic in parts.
Here are two more views of the Grand Canyon in Wyoming. These were taken from Inspiration Point.
Below are two views of the Lower Falls, both from Artist’s Point.
We decided to head south toward Yellowstone Lake and leave the main geyser areas for the next day. The Hayden Valley and the Yellowstone River upstream of the falls can be seen below.
I took the short hike to Le Hardy’s Rapids.
Yellowstone Lake was quiet.
I liked the grasses around Mud Volcano.
We found a Trumpeter Swan in the Yellowstone River. They are still small in numbers but are coming back in Yellowstone.
The most exciting find, however, was a small group of Cinnamon Teal, a beautiful bird.
Heading north we stopped at Tower for another view of the river far below — this one with a foreground of dead tree roots.
We planned to spend two nights in Silver Gate, Montana, the sister city of Cooke City. This would give us a head start for our trip back east along the Beartooth Highway. As we headed east along the Lamar Valley we found a large heard of bison.
Some of the tourists along the road were being pretty foolish with the huge and unpredictable creatures.
I preferred to shoot with a long lens from a safe distance.
In Silver Gate I got a photo of a trio of mule deer in the early evening gloom.
The next morning we headed back into Yellowstone early. We got a nice sunrise over the Lamar Valley.
It got even more spectacular in the Hayden Valley near Tower.
Fifteen to twenty minutes later the sunrise was still amazing farther south in the Hayden Valley.
We had travelled this road the previous day down to Canyon where we viewed the Upper and Lower Falls. We then travelled south to Yellowstone Lake before returning north for the night. Our second day we headed west from Canyon toward Norris and then south to the geyser area.
Before Norris we stopped briefly at Virginia Falls. On the left is the falls itself and on the right a shot at the brink of the falls.
The Gibbon River and the plains nearby were beautiful.
You can zoom into the image below of the Gibbon River and explore it in detail. You can double click to zoom way in and use the left mouse to pan around. You can also use the + and – keys to zoom and the arrow keys to scroll. Please wait for the resolution to download.
There was some interesting fog when we got to Artist’s Potholes. We decided to not hike in.
We saved the Norris Geyser Basin for later and headed south toward Madison and the main geyser areas. Before Madison was Beryl Spring along the Gibbon River.
Of course the Gibbon River hosted Gibbon Falls just a bit farther south.
Just below Madison was the Firehole River and Falls.
Along the Firehole River we found another Trumpeter Swan and a Cormorant.
Along the Firehole Lake Drive loop in Lower Geyser Basin the geysers were not active and we decided to not wait. Still the pools were interesting. You can zoom into the image below and explore it in detail. You can double click to zoom way in and use the left mouse to pan around. You can also use the + and – keys to zoom and the arrow keys to scroll. Please wait for the resolution to download.
This is the area where we saw a beautiful Mountain Bluebird teed up nicely for us.
In Midway Geyser Basin we reached the most colorful and dramatic spots in Yellowstone, the Grand Prismatic Spring. To reach it one crosses the Firehole River seen below with hot liquids flowing into it.
While photographing Grand Prismatic Spring I estimated that 99% of the photographers there were not using a polarizer. The colors and lack of reflections were dramatically better with a polarizer. But if you don’t use one you maybe don’t know what you are missing. Here is a brief slide show of the Grand Prismatic Spring.
At the Grand Prismatic Spring there was a young photographer with a model or perhaps just a friend. In any case I got a few quick shots.
Then there was Old Faithful. Our timing was good, so we decided to hang around for the show. So did many other tourists. I hate seeing tourists when I am on vacation.
Old Faithful was nice, but not the highlight of the day.
We headed back north — the road was closed just below Old Faithful — and stopped at Black Sand Basin. You can zoom way into the 7-shot image below and explore it in detail. You can double click to zoom way in and use the left mouse to pan around. You can also use the + and – keys to zoom and the arrow keys to scroll. Please wait for the resolution to download.
Here are two other views of the pools at Black Sand Basin area.
Near Madison there were a lot of cars parked along the road, so we stopped and I walked into the woods to check it out. I took a long lens and tripod. I got the shot on the left just before an obnoxious photographer planted himself right in front of me. I mentioned he was blocking my shot, but it didn’t matter. I considered going back to my car for the bear spray we carried for Glacier, but thought better of it. I moved back and quite a way to the left and got the photo on the right of this bull elk.
At Norris Geyser Basin I watched a bike rider park his bike and head in for a look. He locked it up so no one would steal it, but he forgot about the local very smart ravens. They know how to unzip pouches.
This is the overview of part of Norris Geyser Basin that the biker enjoyed while the raven was enjoying his snack.
Below are two other photos from this area.
It was a long day. Heading back along the Lamar Valley we saw another mule deer.
The aspens were nice in the late afternoon light.
I took a final shot of the Lamar River before we headed for the Beartooth Highway early the next morning. It is a great road to experience, starting in Cooke City — Silver Lake, Montana, dropping back down into Wyoming, and finishing in Red Lodge, Montana. Stay tuned for a photos from this area.
Here are some of the other photos I took during our short two days in Yellowstone.