Again, chasing the sun one last time before autumn, we set off for Yellowstone National Park in the northwestern part of Wyoming. The day time temps were in the 70’s and nighttime temps were in the 30’s. It was picture perfect, blue skies and fluffy white clouds. Who could resist?
We made our way past Jackson Hole, WY, a last stop before entering the vast wonderment of the
Grand Teton /Yellowstone National Parks. The Grand Tetons National Park boasts a 40 mile ridge line that towers at its highest at 13,775 feet, with visible glaciers from Rt 26. One park leads into another…
Yellowstone National Park
When we entered the park we were provided information about the wildlife and potential dangers in the park. A pamphlet said that numerous park guests get gored each year by approaching wild animals in the park… And over 100 park visitors die each year in the park. We also arrived at the start of the Elk “rut” season, and were instructed not to approach elk for any reason. Yikes, sounds like a real adventure.
Inside the park is the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest supervolcano on the continent. The caldera is considered an active volcano. It has erupted with tremendous force several times in the last two million years. Earthquake activity is also common for the area. Wow, just this year in March, a 4.8 earthquake struck near the Norris Basin no damage was reported. Seismic activity is monitored hourly. This was the biggest earthquake to hit the park since the 50’s. Half of the world’s geothermal locations are in Yellowstone, fueled by the underground volcanic activity. The minute we started seeing the steam rising from the earth…we were intrigued. With that steam also came the smell of sulphur…“hey, it wasn’t me.”
We decided to spend at least one night camping inside Yellowstone on an active volcano, why not? Without reservations, we were able to find a wonderful campsite inside the park at Madison Junction, north of Old Faithful. We set up camp, which was about 120 yards from the Madison River. The full moon provided plenty of light, no need for flash lights or lanterns. As we settled in for the night, I heard a horn, thinking it was some smartass camper who decided to blow his trumpet at 11:00 pm…then we heard it again, slightly different. Turns out, it was elks bugling about 120 yards from the campground, sounding off to show their dominance and to attract the females. You could hear the distinction in each elk’s call. We laughed at the persistence of the Bulls and their ‘lover calls’. This audio session went on until about 5:30 am. As the sun came up, it brought another picture perfect day. We made a pot of coffee and headed down to the Madison River in hopes of stealing a glance at the love sick Elk. We could see the steam rising from the quick moving shallow river, and just then, a huge buffalo approached the water for a drink and then crossed to the other side. It was like a scene from a wildlife movie…it was an awe inspiring moment. Our camera could not capture the intensity of the light, colors, and movement of this stoic creature. What a great way to start the day!
The day only got better as we discovered the geothermal spots in the park. The park service has done a wonderful job of getting park visitors safely to the geothermal activity through a series of boardwalks and trails across the precarious surface. However, it is the responsibility of each visitor to be alert at all times; one false move and one could be over the edge in a boiling pit of earthly toxins. We visited Old Faithful and waited with the hundreds of people waiting for the inevitable; right on schedule. It was funny to see people wait up to 45 minutes to see this famous geyser erupt, and then loose interest and walk away just seconds after eruption, before it’s was even finished! Humans are a funny breed.
We hiked to see the Morning Glory pool, a hot spring in the Upper Geyser Basin. The contrasting color of the pool is due to bacteria which inhabit the water. On a few rare occasions the Morning Glory Pool has erupted as a geyser, usually following an earthquake or other nearby seismic activity. It didn’t erupt while we were there, yay! Checkout out blog photos for incredible photos of an incredible park.
We saw amazing things in Yellowstone and survived!
Eric and Lori