Monday, September 21, 2009

Day 5 - Jack and Amy's Yellowstone Vacation

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

Day 5 - Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Day 5 Photos:

I woke up shortly before sunrise to get some early morning shots of the lake. It was probably the coldest morning of the week and the frost on the car windows was scraper worthy. Fortunately with our location at the Lake Lodge cabins I didn't need the car to get to the lake.

It was a beautiful morning! The lake was calm with a little bit of mist rising from the surface. The actual sunrise was less than spectacular, but the colorful twilight sky just prior to the sunrise more than made up for it.

Morning Twilight at Lake Yellowstone

Amy was awake by the time I returned to the cabin, so after a quick breakfast we checked out and hit the road to Canyon Village.

The wildlife was out in full force alongside the road this morning. We saw several Elk including one of the most impressive Racks I have ever seen, a few Deer, and hundreds of Buffalo. When driving through Yellowstone, the earlier you get started the more wildlife you will see.

Elk Crossing the Road - Nice Rack!

We made several stops along the way at various roadside overlooks, thermal features, and a place called LeHardys Rapids. Maybe I completely missed it somehow, but what I think was LeHardys Rapids was not very special. However, the mist rising from the river did make for a cool shot.

LeHardys Rapids

One of Amy's co-workers who visited Yellowstone last summer gave us three pieces of advice based on his experience:

1. Don't bring kids
2. Don't visit in the middle of the summer
3. Don't stay in one place all week

We don't have any kids to bring, I already came to the not visiting in the middle of the summer conclusion on my own, but we did take his advice about not staying in one place.

However, when planning our trip earlier in the year, the Canyon Village area sounded like the part of the park that I would enjoy most. Plus we didn't want to be packing and unpacking every day. And since the Canyon Village area is kind of centrally located, we decided that for the middle part of our trip we would stay put for a few days. Therefore, we booked (3) nights in the Canyon Village Cabins

Once near Canyon Village, we took the North Rim Road and stopped at several overlooks along the "Grand Canyon of Yellowstone" Now this was very impressive! We got our first peak at Lower Yellowstone Falls which has to be one of the greatest waterfalls in the United States. The lighting was lousy, but it did give us a rainbow and there would be plenty of other opportunities to visit in better light and from many different viewpoints.

Jack at the Lower Yellowstone Falls Overlook

Since it was too early to check in and since we would have three whole days in this location, we decided to explore the Northeast Section of the park. So we drove on to the Tower-Roosevelt area.

Tower Falls was another one that was definitely on my must see list. The short and easy hike to the main overlook makes it a very popular attraction. A great view of this spectacular waterfall can be had from the main overlook, but I didn't want to settle for just that. Unfortunately the trail to the base was closed, so I was forced to settle for the main overlook view.

Tower Falls

The Northeast Entrance Road through Lamar Valley is known for being one of the best places to view wildlife and we definitely saw our share of Buffalo. I think we saw some Pronghorn Antelopes, but they moved out of view too fast for me to get a photo. It's definitely a nice scenic drive that takes you away from the crowds.

Rutting Buffalo in Lamar Valley

We entered into Montana and decided to leave the park for a little while to check out the towns of Silver Gate and Cooke City. As expected they were touristy little towns, but a nice change of pace from what you find inside the park. We had lunch at a little Bistro called "The Bistro", before returning back into Yellowstone.

The Bistro - Cooke City, MT

Our main hike for the day would be the Yellowstone River Trail which follows the East Rim of the Canyon. It's about a 4-mile out and back hike (2-miles each way). There are a few steep climbs, but for the most part it is fairly level.

You can also make a slightly longer loop out of it, but Amy was feeling a little tired, so I elected not to add any extra distance, especially since I didn't have any detailed maps. Loop hikes in unknown areas without a good map is generally not a good idea. It was still a great hike with some spectacular views.

The Yellowstone River

Behind the Roosevelt Lodge, a short trail leads to Lost Creek Falls. Since we were in the area, I decided to check this one out. Amy decided to pass and waited in the car with her book. Maybe after a good heavy rain, this one might be worthwhile, by I definitely wouldn't put Lost Creek Falls on any must see lists.

Lost Creek Falls

By now it was close to check-in time, so we returned to Canyon Village and checked into our room at the Canyon Village Cabins. Since we had a heavy lunch we decided to go for a light dinner and just ordered salads. The salads weren't that great, but they did the trick in getting some veggies in us and tiding us over till the next day.

After dinner I went out for a little solo exploration of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I hiked Uncle Tom's Trail to a spectacular viewpoint of Lower Yellowstone Falls. I wouldn't really call this a trail, but a series of over 300 grated steel steps. Amy would have hated it, but the climb out definitely gave me a good little workout.

Lower Yellowstone Falls from Uncle Toms Trail

I also checked out the view of the Lower Falls from Artist Point and a couple of viewpoints of the Upper Falls. All spectacular!

Upper Yellowstone Falls

On the drive back to the cabin, I saw a large Bull Moose, but it was too dark by this point to attempt any photos.

Additional Photos from Day 5 of our vacation are located here:


HemlockMan said...

Oh, man! That shot of the Yellowstone River is priceless!

One of my pals who spent the last two Septembers in Yellowstone told me that the food inside the park sucks. True?

Jack said...

Well the food definitely wasn't the highlight of the trip but it wasn't that bad. We found the best place to eat was at the snack counter inside the various "Grocery Stores" throughout the park. Each one has a lunch counter area where they cook up some good breakfasts and for lunch/dinner some good burgers. Definitely stay away from the "Delis", and I am not a fan of Cafeteria Style restaurants so we avoided them as well.