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Saturday, September 12, 2015

On the Road, Part III: Further explorations

With our Subaru seemingly in good order, we returned to Yellowstone on Saturday, Aug. 29 to explore further the national park. Why did the bison cross the road? To bring traffic to a halt, obviously:

Our route this day took us past the turnoff to Old Faithful and onward to Yellowstone Lake, at 7733 feet (2357 meters) the largest alpine lake in the U.S. Sand Point provided a good vantage point of the water, as well as across to the Absaroka Range:

Another great spot to take in the view was in front of the general store near the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, where we stopped to have lunch:

Fishing Bridge was once a popular destination for anglers, but fishing was stopped in the early 1970's in order to save the declining cutthroat trout population. Now it's a place to see grizzly bears in the spring when they come down to the water to look for fish. Fortunately for us no bears showed up while we were there:

Our next stop was at Mud Volcano, an active thermal area of mud and sulfur pits. Dragon's Mouth Spring has a very Chinese-sounding name; its eruptions resemble waves coming ashore:

One of several odoriferous mud pots:

Continuing our drive along the loop road, we soon came across a herd of bison grazing in the distance:

So engrossed was I in taking pictures of the beasts that I failed to notice that some members of the herd had parked themselves right next to the road:

On we drove, our next stop being the Canyon Village Visitor Education Center. The main reason for stopping there was so our daughter could earn her Junior Ranger badge. The park service has a program whereby kids are given activities to complete in order to receive a badge. Amber had picked up her activity booklet the day before at the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center and had enthusiastically set about doing all the tasks, such as going on walks, describing things she had seen and answering questions. The last remaining activity was to listen to a ranger give a presentation; here, Amber learned about some of the animals who make Yellowstone National Park their home:

Mission accomplished. Amber was very proud to receive her badge:

The highlight of our day came when we reached the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, where the Yellowstone River plunges over some spectacular waterfalls as it carves its way through the canyon. From Grand Loop Road, we took South Rim Drive to Uncle Tom's Trail, where a 500-foot (152 meters) walk led to a viewpoint over the falls:

More great views were had further down the road at Artist Point:

Not content with looking at the canyon from its southern vantage point, we crossed over to the North Rim Drive and Lookout Point. Another 500-foot trail led down to the falls, to the place where Thomas Moran sketched one of his famous canyon paintings:

As it was beginning to get dark, it was time to return to town. After years in the crowded metropolises of Asia, it felt simply wonderful to be back in the open spaces of the American West once again:

On our last night in West Yellowstone, we dined on baby-back ribs at Buckaroo Bill's and took a walk through town, before retiring to our hotel room. Our stay was too brief; Yellowstone National Park is just too huge to see in only two days. We'd seen a lot (Old Faithful, the Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone Lake, Hayden Valley and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone), but we reluctantly had to leave out the Lamar Valley and Mammoth Hot Springs, among other sites in the park. It was time to move on:

To be continued...

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