We should have started sooner for Yellowstone National Park, it was a lot further away than we thought (about an hour away). When we finally stopped at the info center just outside the Roosevelt gate, we were given another reason why we should have arrived sooner; Yellowstone in HUGE! In our talks with Mary Jane, she had never told us how long it would take to traverse the park’s grand loop. We assumed we would do it in about a day. The man at the info center informed us otherwise. He said it would take at least six hours to make the circuit, and only without making any stops. We were determined to see as much as we could.
As soon as we passed through the gate, before we had even purchased our pass, we saw a buck elk grazing in a field. We paid out 25 dollars for a 7 day pass to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, even though we were only gonna be there for a day…
We drove around anxiously looking for wildlife and some times pulling over when we saw others pulled over to see what they were looking at. We stopped at Mammoth Hot Springs and hiked around for about half an hour. It was pretty awesome! We continued along the grand loop towards Old Faithful, stopping a few times at some Geyser Basins and when we saw Buffalo or Elk. We saw quite a number of buffalo and elk, but we were definitely looking for some big horned sheep, a moose, or a bear.
|Mammoth Hot Springs|
|That's right ladies and gentlemen, a buffalo turd! Thats not even zoomed in or anything, I actually got that close to a turd!|
We made it to Old Faithful after about 3 or 4 hours of driving and looking. I saw quite a bit of steam coming from the direction of the legendary geyser and just as I suspected, she had just blown right as we were rolling into the parking lot. We had to waste another hour and a half so we explored the new Information and Education Center.
After perusing the displays and taking in all they had to offer, we still had 15 minutes to kill before the next predicted eruption of the famous geyser. Fortunately there was a film about the park showing that was just that long.
We got antsy during the movie because we kept imagining that Old Faithful was outside erupting without us, but it waited politely until everyone had left the theater before it even began to bubble. Everyone waited anxiously ooh-ing and aah-ing every time a small jet slopped out over the rim. Finally, with a burble and slosh, a huge column of steam and water surged towards the sky. It was amazing! And right on time, too!
|Can you see the rainbow!? Amazing!|
We were hoping next to make it to the bubbling mud puddles and then scan the plains where bears and wolves had been spotted earlier in the day, but that was at least two hours away and the sun was beginning to set.
We stopped at an overlook to watch some large herds of elk and buffalo, but in the low light the view wasn’t very satisfying. By now the sun had sunk below the trees, so we headed back towards the gate. It was a bit nerve wracking driving along the curving, narrow roads with nothing but our headlights to illuminate the way.
We were nearing the gate when Virginia to me to slow down and look out the window. I had overdriven and had to turn around, but my headlights came to rest on an amazing sight. There at the side of the road, lay an elk struggling in vain to fight off a wolf that was tearing at its face and neck. The wolf let go momentarily, its eyes glaring, its muzzle covered in blood. Virginia and I stared in awe until several other cars pulled up and the wolf retreated from the bright wash created by their lights.
We decided it was time to continue. We left the park stunned, and watching for any other wildlife close to the road. We saw nothing else of note, but that image of nature in the raw was permanently burned into our brains.