Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day 4 - Jack and Amy's Yellowstone Vacation

Jack & Amy’s 2009 Vacation to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons

Day 4 - Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Day 4 Photos:

As usual, I was awake before Amy and decided to head outside for some early morning photos around the Geyser Basin and maybe get one more shot of Old Faithful before moving on to other areas of the Yellowstone National Park.

It was a little colder than previous mornings and I noticed that a thin film of frost was covering all the vehicles in the parking lot. A lone Buffalo was roaming around the Geyser Field and I set my goal for the morning to position myself so I could get both the Buffalo and an Old Faithful eruption in the same shot.

Well that didn't pan out. By the time Old Faithful decided to put on a show, the Buffalo had moved on to greener pastures. Still an enjoyable way to start the day. By the time I got back to the room, Amy was up. So we packed up our stuff, enjoyed a nice breakfast at the Inn, and checked out.

Old Faithful

For the upcoming night we would be staying at the Lake Lodge Cabins, so we started out in that direction. Since we were passing right by, we made another stop at Kepler Cascades, this time with much better light. Still not the most photogenic waterfall, but the roadside attraction is definitely worth as stop if you are driving past.

Kepler Cascades

Next up was the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Out of all the Geyser Basins in the park, this one was probably my favorite. It is set right along the shore of Yellowstone Lake, and the blue water makes for a more attractive scene than the mostly barren landscape that surrounds many of the other Geyser Basins.

Jack and Amy at the West Thumb Geyser Basin

We continued our drive making a stop at the Bay Bridge marina where we would do a little hike to Natural Bridge. It's an easy out and back hike of a little over a mile each way to this Natural Arch which was formed over the years by a small creek cutting through a lava cliff.

Natural Bridge

A short loop trail at the end of the hike takes you to right underneath the arch. Amy elected to skip this as it's a pretty steep climb, but of course I had to go on and see what there is to see from up above! Natural Bridge is definitely an interesting and worthwhile little hike.

Once at Lake Village we checked out the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, which is the oldest lodging facility in the park dating back to the 1800s. Just down the road from that is the Lake Lodge and Lake Lodge Cabins where we would be staying. Once again, we were able to check in well before official check-in time.

Lake Yellowstone Hotel

We decided to take a drive through Sylvan Pass on the East Entrance Road, but quickly came upon some sort of traffic delay crossing the Fishing Bridge. We soon realized what the problem was. Up ahead we saw a large Buffalo crossing the bridge by walking straight down the middle of the road.

Buffalo Crossing the Bridge

Why did the Buffalo Cross the Bridge?

Buffalo walking past our rental car - Amy is in there in the driver seat

Apparently, to get to the other side.

Funny thing about the "Fishing Bridge" is that they don't allow fishing from the bridge?

Eventually, once the Buffalo was out of the way, we made it across the bridge and onward through Sylvan Pass towards the East Entrance. We ran into several more Buffalo roaming across the road and saw at least 50 grazing the meadows along side.

Just outside the East Entrance, my map showed a place called Pahaska Tepee. I was curious to see what this place was.

Amy at Pahaska Tepee

It's a touristy all in one stop, gift shop, restaurant, saloon, gas station, and rental cabins. I topped off the gas tank, while Amy explored around the gift shop before heading back into Yellowstone.

We did another short and easy mile long loop hike called the Pelican Creek Nature Trail. A nice little stroll along where Pelican Creek empties into Lake Yellowstone, but not what I would consider a must hike type trail.

Along the Pelican Creek Nature Trail

The restaurant at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel is more of the upscale type of dining, so instead we elected to eat dinner at the much more casual Lake Lodge dining hall. We saw a lot of Buffalo today, so I decided to try the Bison Meatloaf.

Bison and Buffalo are the same thing. At one time they were hunted and killed almost to the point of extinction. Now they are the most commonly seen wildlife in the park and they are serving them up on the dinner menu! I do have to say, it was some pretty good eating.

My after dinner solo hike for the day would be the Elephant Back Mountain Trail. This is another great little 4.0 mile hike. It's a lollipop loop that gains a total of about 900-ft of elevation to the summit of Elephant Back Mountain. Some great views of Yellowstone Lake and the Yellowstone Lake Hotel.

Lake Yellowstone Hotel viewed from Elephant Back Mountain

At the trailhead there was a sign warning of recent Grizzly Bear activity. However, the only wildlife I saw was a few other humans and a lone deer.

Deer on the Elephant Back Mountain Trail

Once the stars came out, I took a little stroll down to the lake for some night time photography. The sky sure is beautiful out here and I think this trip was the first time that I ever experienced a moonrise

Stars over Yellowstone Lake


Additional photos from Day 4 of our vacation are located here:


Alandra said...

really enjoyed reading about your trip so far, Jack and Amy, -- also enjoying your photos. Great shots of the starry night sky and the moon rise, as well as all the scenery and the photos of both of you. thanks for sharing.
Alandra, BC Canada

HemlockMan said...

YOW!!! You guys are so lucky!!

Carole and I are going next year. We're already plotting. What hotel would you recommend? We're going to fly into Salt Lake City, rent a car, and drive to Yellowstone. We want to stay for about four nights at one of the lodges where I can do some hiking. After that we'll drive down to Jackson Hole. Carole wants to float the Snake River and I plan to hike one of the big peaks in the Grand Tetons.

Your photos are, as always, great!

Jack said...


I liked how we did it and changed our Lodging Location a few times throughout the week. However, if you prefer to stay in just one place, I would recommend the Canyon Village or Lake Village area, as they are the most centrally located in the part.

There are a wide range of lodging options in both locations ranging from around $70.00/night to well over $200.00/night.

For around $70.00/night you get a Pioneer Cabin. Very old, but kept fairly clean and very small. They come equipped with either (1) double bed or (2) twin beds and a very small private bath/shower.

For around $150.00 you get a much larger, newer, and more modern room. Most nights we chose lower end accommodations, but a couple of nights we splurged for the nicer accommodations. It was nice to have the extra room, but probably not worth double the price.

Make sure if you plan to stay in the park, you book well in advance. We booked 6-months in still didn’t have the full range of accommodations to choose from.

It was hard to find reasonably priced lodging around the Tetons. I would recommend where we stayed:

They have 6 different cabins ranging from $80.00-$220.00

The $80.00 one would probably be fine for you.

Also, I have some maps and quidebooks you can borrow!