Saturday 26th September
Up and on our way just as it was getting light. Gorgeous pink and blue sunrise over Jackson. We took the Wyoming 26 north through Grand Teton park. Saw aircraft taking off from the airport looking like small specs against the backdrop of the mountains. A few people about in the turnouts waiting to see some wildlife. We did see a female moose with two youngsters. Stopped to take a few last photos of the stunning Grand Teton Range.
Turned onto the 89 past Mount Moran and Jackson Lake then started to climb through pine forests until we made our descent into Yellowstone National Park.
Left the Snake River behind and followed the Lewis River to Lewis Falls.
Stopped for a walk in the sunshine and a cup of tea and a cake. We crossed the Continental Divide again at Craig Pass at over 8000 feet. Stopped off at Old Faithful and watched the geyser let off hot water and steam that shot between 106-185 feet in the air.
It is quite a sight and drawers the crowds.
Went into the Visitor Centre and watched a short film about the geology of the park.
Yellowstone was the first national park, created in 1872 and covers over two million acres in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. The park sits on a huge volcano, the last eruption, about 640,000 years ago, emptied a large underground chamber of magma. The roof of this chamber slowly collapsed forming a large caldera or basin creating what is today the park. The magma heat from these eruptions still powers the parks geysers, hot springs, volcanic vents and mudpots.
We continued on towards the west entrance of the park, crossed into Montana on the way and stopped off at the side of Nez Perce Creek to have lunch.
We booked in at Yellowstone Grizzly Bear RV Park in Yellowstone West, just outside the park gate. Nice little town, and the RV Park is very smart with large grassy campsites and good facilities.
At the back of the park is a grassy meadow and forest, Sandy thinks she is in second heaven.
Sunday 27th September
Up early and made our way into the park before sun up. From the west gate the road travelled alongside the Madison River which had steam and mist floating over the water. Past Madison we came across Mule deer and elk feeding at the side of the Gibbon River.
There was a large male elk calling or bugling after one of the females who totally ignored him, he trotted off in disgust.
As we came to open pasture land on the Central Plateau there was a herd of buffalo. The sun was just coming up over a hill glowing through the steam and mist off the river, a really atmospheric scene.
We past Gibbon Falls and several small volcanic vents, called fumaroles, that are along the roadside and river and emitting steam.
At Artists Paintpots we parked the car and walked along the trail to see the colourful mudpots. A lot of trees in this area were burned in the 1988 forest fire but there are plenty of young Lodgepole pines growing to replace the old forest. Just after we started the trail we saw a group of standing dead grey tree trunks, they were not killed by fire but by the runoff from thermal features in the area.
The water flooded around the trees and minerals in the water plugged the base of the trees killing them and leaving the bases white. The trail went to a series of hot springs where much of the water was bubbling near boiling point producing plenty of steam,
making them difficult to photograph. We climbed up hill to a couple of mudpots. The mudpots are created when the water supply is reduced and sulphuric acid is produced breaking down the surrounding rock into clay which forms the mudpots. Gases escape from the mud causing it to bubble. On the way back we saw a very friendly little chipmunk breakfasting on a blade of grass and quite happy to pose for pictures.