Hi all. We’ve been in a bit of a wifi void while travelling through Yellowstone and the Grand Teton. Not complaining, just saying. Despite this, I have been very dedicated in my writing and photo editing and below is all the ins and outs of days 3 to 7. I will upload day 8 later “tonight”.
Today we were on the road, bright and early (not) and headed from Baker City, across the border (at about Ontario) and into Idaho. The fairly stark landscape continued but, as we moved further east, there were more outcrops, ranges and cuttings, interspersed with pockets of vivid green from irrigated agriculture. There were still no trees in sight, just a bald vista. Tonight we’re at Craters on the Moon National Park which is really interesting. It’s all just volcanic rocks and all the campsites look like multiple mars rovers parked all over the place. The sunset was lovely and showcased a mountain we can see from our camp. Not sure what mountain it is though.
Would you believe it but we actually, FINALLY made it to Yellowstone National Park today?! We started the morning at about 10 degrees Celsius, which didn’t feel nearly that cold until we read it at the information centre. Still, I was in thongs and shorts so it wasn’t THAT bad. We did a 7 mile drive around the Craters of the Moon National Park, taking in the volcanic sites, and a 2 mile walk to the tree moulds. This is where the lava surrounded trees and, as it cooled, made moulds of their shape, complete with bark patterns. Some of the moulds are from trees that are still vertical, others have fallen and the moulds are horizontal. From there, we hit the frog and toad to Yellowstone and, within a few miles of the entrance, we saw a bison. Finding a campsite was tricky because, even though it is late in the season, it is still busy. On the way to our campsite we saw more bison on the plains and another close up dude, causing traffic havoc. We also stopped at Gibbon Falls for a sticky beak. Tonight we are camped with about a gazillion other people at Canyon campground with firm plans to do the northern loop tomorrow. A section of road in the park is closed and is causing us a few hassles but we’ll sort something out over the next day or two.
Today we did the northern loop of Yellowstone or, as it’s more widely known, the Mammoth loop. We saw geysers of every size, shape, colour and activity and then spent an hour or so marvelling at the terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs. Wildlife-wise we saw herds of bison, the odd elk and missed 4 bears by 30 minutes. Aaaaahhhh! We did get in trouble from a very unfriendly ranger for moving more than a few metres from our lunch. It was the middle of the day in the middle of a very large town but apparently we were still at risk of a bear stealing our sauvignon blanc. We also saw snow. Yep, snow. In jeans and a t-shirt I went across the road and collected it for the kids. Apparently it rained a few nights ago so it’s likely the snow formed then and hasn’t melted away yet. Anyway, it was a nice surprise.
This morning we started with ice. Riley had left his drink bottle outside and it was nearly frozen through. The camp chairs, bear food boxes, campervan etc all had a coating of ice but we were mostly toasty inside our camper, even without power. We headed off earlier than usual and discovered the cold weather made all the steam vents REALLY obvious. It was magic. We stopped at some for photos and then headed to Old Faithful for a look. Unfortunately the road beyond Old Faithful is closed so we’ve done A LOT of backtracking today. After exploring Old Faithful and its surrounds, we headed back towards Madison, Norris and Canyon Village before exploring some new country, including another look at Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon (from a different angle), on our way to Fishing Bridge where we are camped tonight. Our camp is in the Yellowstone Lake area, which apparently is famous for grizzly bears. You can’t camp here unless you are in a hard-sided vehicle. No bear luck so far but we’ve added a coyote (we think) to our list, and got stuck in a massive bison traffic jam. It took about 20 minutes to get through it. I also really want to see a moose!
This morning we washed a mountain of clothes and, while Finn and I were at the laundry, Terry and Riley saw mule deer in the camp. When the washing was done we headed towards the eastern entrance of Yellowstone. We only went some of the way but Finn saw a yellow-bellied marmot and all of us saw RIVER OTTERS!!! The boys got a good look when Finn bailed up a lady with a scope but Terry and I had to be content with distant views. We also saw a coyote, and had to drive around a bison that was ambling along the road. We then turned back and headed down the south entrance (exit?) road, out of the park. Along the way we stopped at Grant Village for a greasy, traditional US lunch. We are now camped in the Great Teton National Park. The Tetons are gorgeous but…they’re like a slice of Switzerland. I think we should’ve come here before heading to Europe! There is still a slight chance of a bear tomorrow, as we head south out of the park and the state, but my main aim is MOOSE! Must see a moose. Moose are a must.