Driving through Yellowstone on the Fourth of July may have not been our smartest move, but we started out early and was able to see quite a bit of the park. We are staying in Gardiner, MT and therefore are right next to the North Entrance. After checking out a couple of elk hanging out by the inn, we stopped at Mammoth Springs. It was only about 60 degrees, but walking up and down the walkways in the elevation quickly made us lose our breath! The views were also breathtaking.
As we were driving, we saw a sign for Roaring Mountain. All I could see was smoke and I urged Jef to stop. The gray rock of the mountain had several areas in which steam was billowing out of it. The placard said that you could actually hear the steam roaring out. I guess we were there at a time when it wasn’t strong enough because I didn’t hear anything, but I thought it was extraordinary. And on the way back, there was barely any steam escaping.
We managed to stop at a few geyser areas, but it was difficult because the more popular ones had no parking places. The first one that we stopped at was the Norris Geyser Basin. We ended up behind a big group of people as we walked around the boardwalk. We saw them from afar when they were laying on the boardwalk trying to touch the water. I couldn’t believe it! There are signs everywhere that ask you to stay on the trail, not touch anything, not throw anything in the water. This was the same area that we saw a cowboy hat lying in the basin. I am now not surprised that so many people get hurt in Yellowstone. It doesn’t seem to matter how many signs or flyers they post. There are still people who don’t listen. It’s frustrating.
We saw quite a few bison today. The first one we saw, I thought was dead! Luckily, his tail starting twitching, so I knew he was OK. He then sat up and starting rolling in the dirt. It was adorable. They are so huge, but cute at the same time. We came upon quite a few on the road. There was even one using the speed limit sign as a scratching post. The best was seeing the giant herds with all the babies. It doesn’t matter how many times you see them, it’s still amazing.
We stopped at a thermal springs that looked like swimming pools and hot tubs. There were quite a few signs asking people not to go in the water. I can see why it would be tempting. We also took a slight detour from the main road onto Firehole Canyon Drive. It was well worth it. We saw some incredible views that you couldn’t record with photos. We tried to check out Old Faithful, but the crowds were too much for us. We are going to delay that visit until Monday, along with several other stops on the road there like the Arts Paintpots, Steamboat Geyser, and Gran Prismatic Spring. We did stop at Black Sand Basin, which Jef said was a smaller version of Gran Prismatic Spring.
We got tired of driving and getting stuck in traffic at the places you could visit. We did stop at one last area, Mud Volcano. The bison hanging around right before the parking area drew us in. We walked the small loop around and saw the opening of the springs, the mud volcano, and a mud cauldron. As you are walking you can hear the glug glug of the mud bubbles popping. The smell was also a bit different from the other springs. You could definitely smell the mud along with a bit of sulphur. I’m excited for tomorrow and more discoveries.