Summer 2008 Trip

Portland - Yellowstone

I had injured my knee in Rockaway Beach, so RoseMary drove all the way from West Linn to Idaho Falls, about 720 miles, in one long day. In Idaho Falls we stayed at a former KOA called Snake River RV Park. We had stayed there before and found the campground to be fairly nice. We tried the swimming pool, but there were too many mosquitoes.

From Idaho Falls, the drive to West Yellowstone was easy - just 108 miles. In West Yellowstone we stayed at the Grizzley RV Park. The park's nice, but I prefer a more primitve campground inside the park. I hadn't made reservations so we took what we could get.

Three days is nowhere near time enough for Yellowstone. We have been there many times and so we all have our favorite places. To cut down our trip to three days we eliminated our bike riding, sight-seeing around Canyon, a hike up Mount Washburn, a visit to Fishing Bridge and Lake to look for moose, time in the Tetons and around Lewis Falls, a visit to the Lamar Valley, any long hikes like the Beaver Pond trail at Mammoth or even an afternoon with the elk at Mammoth and much more.

Here's a link to a map of our Yellowstone travels. Better yet, here's an interactive map on the Yellowstone website. On that first day, we still had time to drive into the park that afternoon, so we opted to drive up to Norris Geyser Basin, and from there over to the Hayden Valley to hunt for buffalo.

Steamboat Geyser in a small eruption. When Steamboat is in full eruption mode, it blasts water 300 feet or so in the air. It is the world's tallest geyser. Such eruptions are very rare and entirely unpredictable.
Enlarge to 1800x1350
1200x900
600x450

Zeke and RoseMary walking around Norris. Just after this picture, Zeke went back to the motorhome to have a nap.

 


Enlarge to 1800x1350
1200x900
600x450

The rest of us took the back loop trail. It was short, but better than nothing.. The Porcelain Basin loop is much prettier, but takes more time than we had.



Enlarge to 1800x1350
1200x900
600x450

We didn't find many animals this day - just a few solitary bulls and several elk, but none in positions where we could get a good picture. Wildlife, even in Yellowstone, is where you find it, not where it's always been or should be. We continued through the Hayden Valley, drove along the lake and over the "hill" (cross the Continental Divide twice) past the geyser basins and back to West Yellowstone.

That's a total of about 125 miles and makes for a full day.

Day 2

With just three days to spare for Yellowstone, we opted to go to Mammoth, Tower and down to Hayden Valley for the second day's tour. We climbed the terrace at Mammoth - even little Zeke.

At the top of the terrace. From left Ryan, Chantel, Cassie, Kenny, Alex, RoseMary, Zeke and Robbie. As usual, I'm hidden behind the camera.

Enlarge 1800x1350 1200x900
600x450

Kenny and Zeke sit on a log amid wild flowers near the parking area at the top of Mammoth. RVs, trucks and trailers must park at the bottom of the terrace.
Enlarge 1800x1350 1200x900
600x450

At Tower, the four older boys hiked down to the bottom of the canyon. The trail no longer goes to the base of the falls. While they were gone, the old, infirm, young and their caretakers waited at the lookout point.

This is perhaps the best picture I've ever gotten of tower falls. The towers are plainly visible by the brink of the falls.
Enlarge to 1800x2400 1200x1600 600x800

While Chantel, Cassie, RoseMary and me waited for the older boys to return, Zeke chose to slide in the dirt to amuse us.

Enlarge to 1800x2400 1200x1600 600x800

From Tower, we continued over Mount Washburn, past Canyon and through Hayden, once again looking for the elusive herd of bufalo. We saw a few solitary bulls, then the long, slow traffic jam ahead told us we'd probably found a herd.

We stopped at one of the turn-outs that was painted for RVs and busses where I got these pictures. The Lehardy fire, near the Lehardy rapids, was caused by a tree blowing into a power line. In the picture below we were 6 or 7 miles from the fire within a few minutes after it started. As a result of the fire, the road was shut-down for several days from the Mud Volcano area to Fishing Bridge. That spoiled our plans for stopping at Fishing Bridge.

One of the solitary bulls.




Enlarge to 1800x1350 1200x900 600x450
The turnout just before the traffic jam. The Lehardy fire is just starting. Alex is getting out of the motorhome.

Enlarge to 1800x1350 1200x900 600x450

We had finally found a herd of buffalo, but they were about 1/2 mile off the road. Too far for decent pictures, even if we had been able to park the big rig nearby.

That's one draw-back to driving a motorhome through Yellowstone. There are also a few places you can't visit. We had nine people in our party, so taking a car wasn't possible. We also couldn't afford tour tickets for so many, so we did the best we could. By the way, if you think that we would be better leaving the kids home so Grandma and I could go by ourselves, you're dead wrong. The kids keep us young and hearing three year-old Zeke say "Good-bye buffalo, I love you" made the trip worth any amount of money spent and difficulty encountered.

We inched our way past the buffalo herd and soon arrived at the Dragon's Mouth Spring and Mud Volcano area. we kept a wary eye on the plume of smoke coming from the LeHardy fire, just a few miles further down the road. By the time we had hiked around those attractions, the rangers were turning back any traffic on our side, and were doing the same at the Fishing Bridge area. For those people who were planning on getting back to Bridge Bay, Lake or Fishing Bridge it was a real difficulty. They had to return to Canyon, cross over to Norris and then make the bottom loop past the geysers, across the mountains, along the lake and finally get to their accomodations.

We never plan on getting to our accomodations before dark, so this was no big deal for us. We just got to drive through the Hayden Valley again and along the Madison River during daylight so we could see elk grazing in the late afternoon along the road.

Day 3

Our last day in Yellowstone. We decided to spend the day in the main geyser areas.

After checking out from Grzzley RV Park, we left the toad parked in West Yellowstone. This was a short driving day, just 30 miles each way.

Our first stop was at the Midway Geyser Basin. Here we saw Excelsior Geyser crater and Grand Primatic Spring. We had seen this area from the backside on our 2006 bike ride.

At midway you must cross a bridge over the firehole river. Zeke likes staying close to Grandma.



Enlarge to 1800x1350
1200x900
600x450

The walk takes you along the Grand Prismatic Spring - note the colors at our right. This is one of the few pictures where the old man appears. From left, me, RoseMary, Zeke, Alex, Kenny with Ryan behind, Cassie with Chantel behind and Robbie holding the hat.

Enlarge to 1800x1350
1200x900
600x450

Crossing back over the firehole. are Cassie, Chantel, Ryan and Kenny.




Enlarge to 1800x1350
1200x900
600x450

From there we arrived at Old Faithful just in time for an eruption - first of at least three that we would see there. Then we started the walk on Geyser Hill. Part way through, Zeke just got too tired to go on. RoseMary took him back to the lodge to rest while I hobbled out to Daisy and Grotto with the other kids.

Just past the Daisy Geyser is the Grotto Geyser. Chantel, Kenny, Cassie, Alex, Ryan and Robbie look at it's small eruption phase.

See front and back views enlarged:

1800 1200 600

 

We wore Zeke out

 

Enlarge to 1800 1200 600

The lodge gives a different view of Old Faithful.



Enlarge to 1800 1200 2400

Time out for ice cream

Enlarge to 1800 1200 600

On the way back to west Yellowstone we stopped by Lower Geyser Basin - at the Fountain Paint Pots area. It seems like the Jet Geyser and/or the Clepsydra Geyser is always putting on a show. These geysers are in the 25 foot range, but they make a lot of noise and are almost always in eruption phase.


Robbie by the Clepsydra Geyser
Enlarge to 1800 1200 600

After the Geyser Basins, we continued north to Madison Junction, then to West Yellowstone. In the late afternoons or early mornings you can almost always count on finding elk near the road.


Can you see the two elk in this picture?
Enlarge to 1800 1200 600

Jump to Oregon Coast or Utah and Idaho