Saturday, July 5, 2014 We slept in and had a leisurely morning calling home and doing some research on the Internet. It was mostly sunny and 80 degrees to start the day. Today we would be spending the morning in Mammoth Hot Springs. The road from Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful that we traveled on the other day has so many things to see on it that you almost need 2-3 full days to do it all. You can plan your day around the eruption of Old Faithful and go from there. The Upper Geyser Basin is where Old Faithful is and there are lots of other geysers to see in that area. Some of the other geysers erupt there at certain times as well. Lower Geyer Basin on that road is a must-see with the Fountain Paint Pots that look like colorful bubbling mudholes. Midway Geyser Basin a little south of there was the busiest and most crowded. That’s where they were lined up waiting for a parking space. I would say you would have to get there early in the day to have the most luck finding a parking spot. With only 4 days here in Yellowstone, we had to narrow it down to what we really wanted to see. As it was, we had to skip the Fountain Paint Pots. It was just too busy. Being here during the 4th of July weekend didn’t help the situation, but July and August are prime vacation months non-the-less. Since we had both been to Yellowstone before, we picked our favorite spots to see and checked out some new ones. I keep telling myself that Yellowstone was not on our original itinerary, so it was an added bonus to be able to stop here. What a treat it was! Ok, enough about that and on to our visit to Mammoth Hot Springs. We found a place to park (luckily) and spent 1-2 sweltering hours (93 degrees) walking on the boardwalk to the different locations of the active hot springs.
Many were inactive since the last time I was here in 1981. This one was called Palette Springs.
The sign said the water was hot enough to scald you, but this little bird didn’t seem to be affected by it.
This was the most unique feature. It is called Liberty Cap–a dormant hot springs cone.
The view of the “city” of Mammoth from the top of the boardwalk was awesome.
From the top, we could also see the 2-lane bridge we had to cross yesterday.
The springs come and go over the years. As one closes up another one opens.
Down at the parking lot I was able to get up close to the elk that were relaxing on the front lawn of one of the Ranger’s homes.
This young elk was standing next to the truck in the town square.
I caught a picture of this one crossing the road in front of us. This herd of elk in Mammoth seems very tame and used to people, but the Rangers are very protective of them as well.
We left Yellowstone around 1:30 for the last time on this trip. Still no luck seeing a moose though! It was a whirlwind of 4 days and I loved every minute of it!!
We stopped in Gardiner to find some bear spray for Glacier NP, but at $45 a bottle (one-time use) we decided to wait and re-evaluate our need for it. We can always pick some up in Glacier if we find that we do.
We stopped for a beer and a burger (Bob had an elk burger) at the Iron Horse Bar and Grille that sits on top of the cliff overlooking the Yellowstone River.
We had a great view from there.
It wasn’t long before we saw some rafters come floating down the river.
They were a hootin’ and a hollerin’ and having a good time. We would like to know if this is the normal volume of water for the Yellowstone River or if it was such a harsh winter that they have had a lot of runoff from melting snow. Either way, it was flowing fast and furious, even as far down the river as our campground is located. We saw kayakers, and 2 guys on body boards also coming down the river. It looked like fun! We stopped for a quick carwash in town to get rid of the dust and bugs and then headed to the campground. We saw a lot of people fishing, boating, and rafting on the Yellowstone River on our way back. We’ll skip dinner tonight since we had a big lunch, but I’ll treat myself to some locally-made ice cream at the campstore. Tomorrow we head north for a night in Great Falls before our stay in Glacier starts Monday. The sunset behind the mountains was pretty, but it was too cloudy to see much.
The lingering sunlight illuminated the clouds across the river on the other side. It was a fitting end to a wonderful time in Yellowstone National Park.
It was a cool evening. Once the sun went down behind the mountains and the half moon appeared, the clouds turned orange against the blue sky. What a night!