Emigrant, MT (Yellowstone NP), July 3, 2014

Thursday, July 3, 2014 The Internet was fast this morning, so I got all caught up on my blog. When everyone’s in the campground, it slows way down with increased usage. We waited for the sunrise over the mountain tops and did our usual morning chores. We were heading into Yellowstone today and wanted to get an early start. It was clearer today. That little bit of wind helped to clear away the smoke from the forest fires in Canada.

We slept with the windows open last night (50 degrees for a low). When we woke up this morning it was 60 degrees in the trailer and very comfortable. They are forecasting 90 degrees for this weekend. We left the campground at 8:50 and saw some beautiful scenery on the road to the park. We even saw a couple of white pelicans. I guess they spend their summers here in Montana. I can’t imagine a better place to be.

We were entering the park at the North Entrance near Gardiner. We saw one white-tailed deer in a field and almost had a close encounter with another deer on our way to Yellowstone. We almost hit it when it ran out into the road. That was a close call! The road again followed the river which was filled with rapids. It was moving quickly and great for those rafting trips.

Just past Gardiner, is the arched North Entrance to the park, the Roosevelt Arch.

Yellowstone was the first national park to be established by Theodore Roosevelt in 1891.

Again we got to use my Senior Pass and not pay an entrance fee. We made our way through the park with the intent to make it to Old Faithful for an eruption and then work our way back.

The scenery was awesome as we wound our way over the narrow park roads.

Just outside of Mammoth Hot Springs, a coyote ran across the road in front of us with a rabbit in his mouth. Too fast and too fleeting to capture a picture of it, but exciting none-the-less. As we passed through Mammoth Hot Springs, which is a huge complex and little city of its own, we spotted 3 elk grazing on the front lawn of the government building there. Awesome!

I knew we were saving Mammoth Hot Springs for another day, but I got this shot as we drove past.

That white line in the middle of the picture is the highway we would be on today.

This section of road reminded me of Needles Highway in South Dakota.

A trail ride group was just saddling up and it made me excited for our trail ride in Glacier next week.

There were many things to stop and see along the way, but we would catch some of them on the way back or on another day during our stay here. In some places, cars were lined up waiting for a parking spot. It was a pretty busy day in Yellowstone. We even had a 15 minute delay for road construction and had to turn off the truck and wait. We called ahead with the phone number from the park brochure to find out when Old Faithful was predicted to erupt. With the distance and the traffic delay, we would miss the one at 11:00, but be able to catch the one following that. We arrived at Old Faithful around 11:30 and called the Old Faithful hotline which said the next eruption was at 12:48.

So we decided to eat our picnic lunch and look around the grounds a bit. Bob really misses his snowblower. NOT!

This is the new Visitor Education Center.

A trip to Yellowstone would not be complete without a visit inside the Old Faithful Inn.

It is such an awesome building. It is a fabulous example of log construction!

Here are some pictures of the inside. Notice the little “treehouse” at the very top level. You can use the stairs to get all the way to the top.

From there we walked around the Upper Geyser Basin which has the largest concentration of geysers anywhere in the world.

This spring was especially pretty.

After walking around the lower boardwalk, we found a place in the shade to wait for Old Faithful to erupt. Old Faithful was spewing out puffs of steam–sometimes a lot and sometimes almost none at all.

Then at 12:52, the eruption we’d all been waiting for finally came.

It spit out steam and water for about 4-5 minutes and then it was done.

From there we headed north, but took a side road, Firehole Lake Drive, near Lower Geyser Basin. This was a very deep spring lined in aqua blue.

Down the road was this bubbling geyser.

The last stop on this road was the Great Fountain Geyser which was pretty quiet today.

Moving up the road towards Gibbon Falls, towards Madison, we saw some wildlife–2 buffalo and a large female elk feeding near the river. Awesome!

We stopped to take the easy walk to Gibbon Falls. There was a lot of water moving over the rocks to the riverbed below.

After Gibbon Falls, traffic was stopped to view this huge bull elk. His antlers were in velvet. How excited we were to see him!

Our last stop was at the Artist’s Paintpots.

Some of them were bubbling and the colors give them their name.

From there we were heading home. The ride through the rocky canyon is beautiful.

This was another cascading waterfall.

We had one last surprise! We saw a whole herd–5 adults and 5 babies–of mountain goats descending from the higher rocky cliffs.

We finished our drive today by passing through the Roosevelt Arch/North Entrance and Gardiner.

We did see some rafters finishing their trip on the Yellowstone River.

The ride back from Gardiner was an easy ride and very beautiful. You often see different things coming and going so it’s always interesting.

We got back to the campground and relaxed before dinner. Bob helped a neighbor with his satellite hookup and Auggie and I sat outside. We took a walk with Auggie after dinner and stopped in the camp store for an ice cream. We sat outside as the sun set and enjoyed the mountain view.

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