There is so much to see and do here at Yellowstone National Park. There are geysers, hot springs, rivers, lakes, meadows, bison, bear, waterfowl, elk, and even more than I can list at the moment. Here's a picture of an Osprey that I snagged while waiting for Old Faithful to do her thing.
There are many great advantages of bringing the RV. You have access to your food, a bathroom, beds in case the 3yo gets tired, storage for your things, and it’s all with you wherever you park the truck. The only problem is that it’s harder than normal to find places to park. When parked across spaces, we take up four. When navigating tight turns, we just can’t. And, when you find an RV specific parking place, there’s usually a compact car or a motorcycle parked in the middle of it.
Once we did find parking, the sights more than made up for the delay. Old Faithful is probably the most well-known attraction at the park. The geyser earned its name by spewing hot water and steam about every ninety minutes. I imagine that this kind of regularity is a fairly good indicator of the thermal dynamics within the park, a sort of canary, if you will.
When Old Faithful does erupt, it causes quite a stir for about a minute. I felt like it was a little anti-climactic given that we sat there holding good seats for over an hour. The bleachers filled up rather quickly. Here's a crowd shot.
There are other natural attractions near the Old Faithful location, as well.
Of course, you have to be wary of your step. Some of these pools are over three-hundred degrees, and that's hotter than I ever want to feel.
Here's a pic of the family watching Old Faithful erupt again from the other side of the loop.
The view is better if you can stay upwind of the steam, I think.
After we left that area, we headed toward the Grand Prismatic Spring. We didn't get there on our first attempt. The line was so long to park that we had to go up and back and turn around a couple times before we could find a place to park. Here's the view from a turn-out near the spring.
See the steam way off in the distance on the right? That's probably a mile and a half away.
The colors baked into the rocks were really outstanding.
The pools themselves are very clear. It's deceptive, really, because there are some very interesting chemicals that have been dissolved within the springs.
Bacteria also plays an important role in the springs' color. There are unique communities that live within a preferred temperature range.
Each color represents a different habitat where only a specific type of bacteria can live. It's pretty amazing, really.
The Grand Prismatic Spring is really spectacular for it's unique ability to support so many different species within one scalding location.
There's another spot just down the road, the Painters Mud Pots, where the bacteria and chemical compounds create some kind of crazy goo that bubbles and boils. It's tempting to touch, but these super-heated pools will take your skin off your bones.
A little later, after finding another spot to park we were able to see more hot springs and more geysers, and each one of them was unique and strange.
After we left that set of geysers, we had lunch at a turnout near Gibbon Falls. I walked to the lookout point but wanted a better view. I was sitting on a surveyer's medallion, so it couldn't have been terribly unsafe.
A little later, we saw a bison just laying in a field. This was as close as i could get to the bison, but not necessarily because of the bison.
What was really holding up progress around the loop that day was an incredible bear-jam... you know, a traffic jam caused by a bear. They are the worst.
The traffic was so bad, we pulled off the road and I got on top of the RV to see what was going on. Turns out, there was a bear in the meadow. It was about a mile away from us just wandering on the ridgeline.
Here's a view of the bear, a grizzly. This is also at 500mm, my longest focal length without a teleconverter. I mean, it was really cool to see a bear in Yellowstone, but I could not tell if the bear had any picnic baskets in tow;)
There was rain falling in parts of the park, though not directly on us at the time. This rainbow was so short-lived. I had to pause dinner (sausages for the adults, hotdogs for the kids, with grilled peppers and onions).
Storms on the horizon bring color to the skies during the hours around sunset. There were so many different scenes with different colors and textures in the landscape, I just wandered around the meadow looking for the best angles.
While wandering, I saw two trumpeter swans making their approach toward the water. They were so loud and that sound was unmistakable. I also managed to catch another rainbow in a different part of the sky over the hill where the sun was setting.
A storm was approaching very quickly. I watched the layers of lower pressure collide with the blue skies and lightning followed. I didn't capture any lightning, but the clouds were exceptionally dramatic.
Here's a view of the sky from the opposite direction with the RV in the foreground. That truck is pretty cool.
And then back to the more dramatic side, 180* in the opposite direction.
Then came the kicker. The sun set during the thunderstorm and left us with the drama and a new spectacular rainbow.
Headlights lit the road as the sun burned through the clouds.
The rest of the story is that we drove back to our campsite in the dark and reconnected to the utilities before collapsing in the bed. Some things are worth the effort, though. Till next time, friends, take care!
August 2nd, 2017 Ginger:
August 1st, 2017 Dan:
Splendid. You can spend the next year printing your photos for sale. Then comes the book.
I will never forget seeing the Tetons from Yellowstone Lake. They are 75 miles away.