Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Northern Yellowstone

View from Dunraven Pass
Yellowstone Lake fogged in
Grand Tetons in the far distance
Fresh coat of snow on Dunraven Pass
We got up to a cold (32 degrees), foggy morning last Saturday. The forecast was for a great day so we headed into the park with confidence that the fog would burn off. We were headed to the northeast section of the park so we knew we had at least an hour drive (depending on buffalo slowdown time) and we were headed to higher elevation so it would be even colder and thus probably no fog. We entered the west gate about 7:15 and by the time we pulled into Canyon Village about 8:10 the sky was clear and, at over 7900 feet, there was about an inch of fresh snow that was very pretty (and melting fast).
North of Dunraven Pass looking north
Black bear
We headed north from Canyon Village toward Tower-Roosevelt crossing. It's not too far to Dunraven Pass (at about 8900 ft) where there are great views. After going over the pass it was a long slow descent with long views to the north and east. As we got down toward the bottom the road was going along a stream and we saw a black bear lumbering along. The first wildlife of the day other than the buffalo that are everywhere.
Tower Falls

A few miles further was Tower Falls. It's a short walk to the viewpoint where Tower Creek tumbles 132 feet out of interesting rock formations.

Lamar Valley
When we got to the Tower-Roosevelt crossing we decided to go east on the road to the northeast entrance. It is 29 miles to the entrance with the road following Lamar Valley and then into a beautiful narrow canyon. We went about 25 miles of it before turning around. Compared to other parts of the park there aren't as many people and there is more wildlife. The drive on this road was the most beautiful that we've seen in the park.

Lamar Valley
We saw wildlife that we expected (antelope, osprey, eagle) and we also saw something that we were not expecting - a badger. It was just off the road and digging furiously sending a very impressive amount of dirt flying. It would dig a little and then come out and look around. Then, back to digging.

When we got into the narrow canyon, about 5 miles from the entrance, we saw some mountain goats way, way up on a cliff. The cliff was quite a ways away plus the sheep were way up so pictures aren't exactly impressive. We would not have seen them but there were a number of cars stopped so we stopped and asked what they were looking at.

Mountain Sheep - baby is behind mommy
When we got back to Tower-Roosevelt we had lunch in the Roosevelt Lodge that was built in 1906. It is a fairly small log structure and it is really neat inside with all of the support structure being log with bark intact. It kind of felt like we were dining in the woods. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture when we left.

Petrified redwood tree
Next, we headed west on the road to Mammoth Hot Springs. This, I would say, is the second prettiest drive in the park as the road winds around in the mountains. We stopped to see a standing, petrified redwood tree. This was neat compared to the petrified trees in Arizona because it is standing and much larger.

View from pullout
Other than stops at pullouts to enjoy the view we made two stops for waterfalls. Once we got into the village of Mammoth Hot Springs we headed south on the route that we took the previous weekend.

Undine Falls
Coyote having a road-kill lunch
We put on over 150 miles in the park on this day and it goes down in memory as one of the best drives we've ever had. That section of the park is magnificently beautiful. A Rocky Mountain classic.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds marvelous!! So fun. Hope y'all have managed to stay away from whatever stomach bug was going around at Yellowstone that I read about.