Day 26 – Exploring Upper Yellowstone

Friday, September 17, 2010
Miles To Date: 
3 328

Today was our first of two in Yellowstone National Park. We decided to get the northern areas visited, since tomorrow we will be exiting the park from the south to get to our next destination. The roads in the park are more or less in a figure-of-eight shape, so we covered the top of the eight.

The first part of the day involved passing a number of hot springs, before reaching the Norris Geyser basin. These occur because of the supervolcano under Yellowstone. Volcanic activity results in trapped gas being released through vents in the Earth’s crust. These take the form of geysers which are quite a site, though smell awful (almost identical to very rotten eggs). The Norris basin was an entire area where this gas was escaping, some through open vents and some through water. The water vents were the best to look at since interesting coloured algae lives in these areas. There are strict warnings to stay on designated walkways at all times since the boiling water has claimed many lives, and the ground can crack beneath your feet!

The other notable hot springs of the day were the Mammoth hot springs which lie on the side of a mountain in the far north of the park. These mainly contained orange algae, which looked interesting on the white basin ground. The north of the park has quite different scenery to the south, with less pines and more shrub land. After passing the springs we crossed to the north east of the park where a forest fire was raging a few miles away from the road. This apparently had been going since Tuesday after lightning set a tree alight. Fires are common here so we were lucky this one wasn’t by the road.

The final site of the day was the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. This has the Yellowstone river running through it, which has two waterfalls along its route. We walked down to the lower falls (half a mile winding path down a 600ft cliff!), which was incredible to see. We were standing right at the top where the water goes over so we had an amazing view.

As for the parks famous wildlife, so far we have seen elk, bison, ground squirrels and deer. Unfortunately no bears yet! I appropriately had a bison burger for dinner, so as to sample the local cuisine.

Photo(s) of the day: the Norris hot springs and forest fire. Loads of photos today so it was a difficult choice!