Monday, June 10, 2013

Another great day in Yellowstone

Isa Lake on Continental Divide
This weekend we wanted to see the east side of the grand loop from Yellowstone Lake up to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. It is a long drive from our home base in West Yellowstone so we got up early and were on the road about 6 am. Our route took us past the Old Faithful area and then east across the Continental Divide. We made a stop at Isa Lake which sits right on the divide. The little lake has an outlet that flows west and another that flows east so it actually has water run off to both oceans. We thought that was pretty cool.

Yellowstone Lake

Dragon's Mouth Spring
We arrived at the hotel on Yellowstone Lake at about 8 am and enjoyed the breakfast buffet before continuing our journey. As you drive north from the Fishing Bridge the road follows the Yellowstone River which flows out of the lake and heads north to the mighty Missouri River. We stopped at the Mud Volcano area where our favorite feature was the Dragon's Mouth Spring which roared and spit water out of a large cave in the hill side. I couldn't help but think that Shrek would like this place.

We drove slowly up the Hayden Valley enjoying the great scenery and stopping a few times to just take it all in on a perfect, beautiful day. Of course we saw buffalo but we also say an elk standing majestically on a far away ridge. One stop was a little pullout right on the river where we sat on a log enjoying the view and watched an otter fishing in the river. Eventually he came over close enough for a decent picture.
Hayden Valley

Around noon we arrived at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone with its much photographed water falls. The upper falls are nice but the lower falls have the majestic view from numerous lookout points in the canyon. At each viewpoint you look up the huge canyon and see it dropping 308 feet and slowly carving out the canyon as it retreats upstream.

We spent several hours enjoying the view of the falls and canyon from four different view points. Fun facts - the canyon varies from 800 to 1200 feet deep and from 1500 to 4000 feet across and is 24 miles long. A bonus was looking down on an Osprey nest on one of the ledges in the canyon. We could see the female sitting on the nest as the male soared around the canyon hunting.
Lower Falls from Artist Point

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
River from Inspiration Point
As the saying goes, all good things must come to and end. We eventually became hungry and decided to head back home. We made a couple brief stops at features that we had previously driven past a couple of times. On this day curiosity won out and we stopped. By the end of our stay in mid-August we will know the park pretty thoroughly as we stop at as many of the features and trails as we can each weekend.

Here are a some bonus wildlife pictures from the day.

Elk in velvet - not shy at all
People were scurrying to avoid
this wildlife

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