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1998 West Vacation - September 8 through 19, Part 3

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2006pnw_map.jpg
My 1998 West Vacation - 11 days, 4315 miles.
Days 6 (continued) & 7, Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone National Park (Day 2, continued) - September 13

We then travelled the Grand Loop road clockwise, with stops at Undine falls, and one of the last standing petrified trees in Yellowstone. The rest were victims to tourists, long before the laws were enforced.

Following the Grand Loop road brings you to the Overhanging Cliff, with the basalt volcanic formations visible here and across the Yellowstone River. You're actually still seeing the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, much less impressive, but very much more accessible.

Just beyond the Overhanging Cliff is Tower Falls, one of the more famous falls in Yellowstone. You walk down switchbacks, for a total of about 300 vertical feet, which doesn't sound like much until the city boy in you realize that it's equivalent to a 30 story building. A separate path will get you to the Yellowstone River, where only hours before it fell over the Upper and Lower Falls.

Tower falls is an impressive fall, where the water roars as it splashes down in the narrow canyon it's carved over its past. If you can do the walk (it's at 5000 feet above sea level, remember) it's an impressive sight. Highly recommended. Just remember you have to walk back up.

Yellowstone National Park, Day 2 - Part 2
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Once we recovered from walking to the base of Tower Falls, we continued down the Loop Road to Dunraven Pass, and then cut across Norris Canyon Road from Canyon to Norris Junction.

On the way back North, we stopped at Roaring Mountain, which doesn't really roar these days, and back to Mammoth Hot Springs, where Jo had to go horseback riding. I don't do horses.

Yellowstone National Park, Day 2 - Part 3
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Elk
The Elk invade the Mammoth Hot Springs area to graze on the grass. They are, however, indiscriminate where they deposit the results of eating the grass. Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park.
So I dropped her off so she could get her ass beat up, and I took pictures of the Sheepeater Canyon Bridge and old Fort Yellowstone, where troops that protected the park early last century were stationed. The double shotgun houses are now residences to the rangers and other employees of the park. Watch your step, though. Elk frequent the area, and they don't have a lot of regard where they leave their...nuggets.

We ended the day by having dinner at the Mammoth Hot Springs Dining Room, and enjoyed the bugling of the Elk as our after dinner entertainment. (If you talk to the rangers, you'll find that the Elk love the cut grass that's available in the area, and that they're kept up all night by the male Elk attracting more females to their harem...)

Yellowstone National Park, Day 2 - Part 4
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Yellowstone National Park (Day 3) - September 14

Day 3 started South from Mammoth Hot Springs, and was briefly interrupted for photographing the park in the morning light. Our plan for the day was to investigate the Yellowstone Caldera. What is a Caldera? It's essentially the mouth of a volcano. An active volcano.

If you look at a map of Yellowstone, the Grand Loop Road looks like the figure '8'. The Yellowstone Caldera is about twice the size of the lower loop of the 8. It's a volcano so large, that if it blows, it will lay waste to the entire Midwest of the United States. It has erupted three times previous, and there's no reason to doubt that it will erupt again.

But until it does, it provides wonders found in very few places in the world. Geysers, and other hot springs are plentiful here, water heated by the same magma that will one day kill life for miles around.

After entering the Caldera, we detoured along the Firehole River, which also includes the Falls and the Cascades. Just South of that, is where the Nez Pierce of Oregon entered the park in 1877 trying to escape the pursuing US Army, and join the Blackfeet. They failed, but proved to be the equal of the Army in every way except in numbers.

We also stopped in at the Fountain Paint Pots and the Firehole Lake Drive, then the Midway Geyser Basin.

Yellowstone National Park, Day 3 - Part 1
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End 1998 West Vacation - Part 3.

Jump to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

Revisions:
  • 08/5/2013 - Rewrite and update to v3.11
  • 08/31/2014 - Update to v3.2