Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day 7 - Jack and Amy's Yellowstone Vacation

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

Day 7 - Friday, September 11th, 2009

Day 7 Photos:

Today we planned to explore the North Entrance area of the park. So after a quick breakfast we hit the road. Again there was a nice display of wildlife out during the early morning hours.

Our first stop was to Virginia Cascades. A nice roadside waterfall worth the stop if you are driving past, but not one I would go out of the way for. We then hiked the short half mile trail to Ice Lake. I was hoping to see some Moose, but instead we just got Elk

Elk at Ice Lake

We continued our drive towards Norris to Artist Paint Pots. Amy informed me that she had seen enough Geyser Basins, hot springs, bubbling mud pools, boiling rivers, etc. So she elected to stay in the car with her book while I did the short hike to Artist Paint Pots.

Geyser Mist at Artist Paint Pots

After that we visited the Norris Geyser Basin. Amy reluctantly did this hike with me. Afterwards I decided that I too had my fill of Geyser Basins for this trip. So onward to Mammoth-Hot Springs.

We stopped at several overlooks, including Roaring Mountain and Rustic Falls before reaching a nice view of Mammoth-Hot Springs down below. There is another popular Geyser Basin here, but we elected to skip that one, and instead drove down the Mountain into “Town”

Heading down towards Mammoth Hot Springs
Rather than walking around the Geyser Basin, we decided it would be more interesting to stroll around though town. Mammoth is the only area inside Yellowstone that actually has year round private residences, so it is definitely more town-like than any area in the park. Except, there sure is a lot of poop around here!

The Elk roam through town without any fear of the humans. Just a few feet from the sidewalk we saw a group of Elk sitting in the shade of a building watching all the people walk by.

Elk hanging out in the shade at Mammoth Hot Springs
We checked out the visitor's center and gift shops before deciding to head on. Rather than taking the main road, a one-way dirt road leads from Mammoth to Gardiner, MT. It is suppose to be a great place to view wildlife, but we didn’t see any. Still a fun drive with some really nice views.

Approaching Gardiner, MT

We stopped to take some photos of the Famous Roosevelt Arch at the North Entrance of the park, before temporarily leaving Yellowstone to visit Gardiner, MT.

The Roosevelt Arch

Gardiner is a nice little town. It is definitely a touristy type town, but compared to the other gateway villages that we visited early in the week, it is much bigger than Silver Gate, Cooke City, and Pahaska Tepee combined.

We enjoyed a nice lunch at a place called the Sawtooth Restaurant-Deli, which offered up some great sandwiches and Burgers. After lunch we topped off the gas tank and headed back into Yellowstone.

Jack and Amy at Lunch in Gardiner, MT

Right at the boarder of Wyoming and Montana is the Boiling River Trailhead. It’s a mile out-and back hike to one of the only legal places inside of Yellowstone to swim in a hot spring.

While technically not actually boiling, the Boiling River emerges from a cave at around 140-degrees. Too hot to swim directly in the Boiling River, but after about a 100-yards, the Boiling River empties into the Gardiner River forming a great soaking spot. I just had to try it out!

Jack Soaking at the Junction of the Boiling River and Gardiner River

If you decide to soak right next to where the Boiling River enters, it is pretty darn hot! But the closer you move towards the Gardiner River, the more cooler water joins in and you can adjust your location to whatever temperature mix you prefer.

Warning, while the soaking is nice and warm, the air sure feels cold when you get out. Especially since I didn’t think to bring any towels along!

Continuing our drive we stopped off at Undine Falls, which is a roadside view. After that I did the short hike to Wraith Falls. Both of these are worth the stop if you are driving past, but probably not worth going out of your way to see.

Jack and Amy at Undine Falls

We also did the “Forces of the Northern Range” Trail a short half mile loop with many interpretive signs along the way. We hopped off the main road and instead took the Blacktail Plateau Drive, which offered up some different views.

We saw a sign for “Petrified Tree” and decided to check it out. From our car we could see a tree stump surrounded by a fence. We looked at each other and decided that this was not worth getting out of the car for. But I did roll down my window and snap a quick shot of the Petrified Tree from the vehicle before moving on.

The Petrified Tree

Our last stop was Chittenden Road which takes you part of the way up Mount Washburn. From there a trail leads to the Summit. I thought about hiking it, but I knew Amy wouldn’t be up for a hike with that much elevation gain, and I didn’t want to leave her alone in the car for as long as it would take for me to do the 6-mile hike.

View from Mount Washburn
Instead, I would plan my days solo hiking for later after we get back to the comforts of our cabin. It actually wouldn’t have been too far for me to drive back here later, but instead I decided on the Cascade Lake Trail.

I had a little over 3-hours of Daylight left, so I would just hike for an hour and a half and then turn around. The Cascade Lake Trail is nice and easy, with just a few minor ups and downs.

Cascade Lake

Cascade Lake was a nice little pond and apparently a good fishing spot. I continued on to Grebe Lake before my watch told me it was time to turn around. I could have hiked this trail forever, but knew if I didn’t turn around now I would be risking darkness.

This was supposed to be a good trail for wildlife viewing, but all I saw was a lone deer and a lone Bison. I saw a few other hikers and some people fishing at Cascade Lake, but for the most part I had the trail to myself. An enjoyable way to spend the late afternoon / early evening.

Grebe Lake
It was almost dark and I thought about heading to one of the waterfall overlooks for some evening twilight waterfall shots, but instead elected to head back to our cabin to spend the rest of the evening with Amy.

Additional Photos from Day 7 of our vacation are located here:


HemlockMan said...

Wow! I have always wanted to soak in a real life hot spring! Next year, for sure...

Jack said...

Yes, you would enjoy that. The trail to the Boiling River is short and easy enough for Carole to enjoye as well!