Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Five

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→Note: this is the fifth post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

Destination: Mammoth Hot Springs Area

From West Yellowstone, drive 14 miles to Madison Junction, then drive east/northeast to Norris. Continue north from Norris Junction to Mammoth Hot Springs. Drive time between West Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs: 1.25 hours.

Travel tip: early morning travel between West Yellowstone and Madison Junction calls for a good pair of sunglasses! The sun will be blinding (seriously) while traveling east on this road.

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Antler Peak, Gallatin Range, Yellowstone National Park

In the Mammoth area of the park, there is something incredible to see at every turn. From mountain vistas to the breathtaking terraces of the hot springs to beautiful historic buildings.

Did you know that the park headquarters, located at Mammoth, was originally a fort? It’s true. Fort Yellowstone was established in 1886 as Camp Sheridan to protect the park from visitor damage, devious developers, and interlopers. The first buildings of Fort Yellowstone were constructed in 1891, and of course other buildings followed. The Army relinquished the fort to the National Park Service in 1918. Most of the original buildings are still used today as offices and living quarters.

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Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel built in 1936 is within the historic district

Stop in at the Albright Visitor Center to learn more about the history of Yellowstone National Park and Fort Yellowstone. Then take a walk through the Fort Yellowstone Historic District.

Travel tip: elk love the manicured lawns at the park headquarters. It is likely that you will see many of them grazing here or lying under trees in the shade. Remember to keep your distance, and do not approach them.

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This is the Roosevelt Arch at the north (Gardiner, Montana) park entrance. The landmark, which contains a time capsule, was constructed in 1903 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Unfortunately, due to road construction, we were unable to get a picture of the front that shows the inscription “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People”.
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Standing just under 11,000 feet, majestic Electric Peak can also be seen at the north park entrance. Note: This beautiful view can be seen anytime by going to our Places/Links tab at the top of the page, then clicking on the “All National Park Webcams” link. Scroll to Yellowstone and click on “North Entrance”. Watch the scenery change with the seasons!

Okay, we’ve kept you waiting long enough. It’s time to see the springs and terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs. Below are some of of favorite shots. We will let the pictures speak for themselves.

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While they appear to be icy in nature, the terraces are actually composed of travertine produced by the large amounts – about two tons per day – of calcium carbonate that comes up through the springs. The colors are created by those pretty little thermophiles.

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We’re going to call this post done. Thank you for joining us at Mammoth Hot Springs. Don’t forget to come back next week when we post the Tower-Roosevelt section of the park. In the meantime, we will close with a picture of Rustic Falls as seen from a pull-out on the side of the road just before arriving at Mammoth.

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Rustic Falls

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Four

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→Note: this is the fourth post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

Destinations: Upper, Midway, and Lower Geyser Basins

From Madison Junction, drive south for approximately 16 miles to Old Faithful. From Old Faithful, backtrack to Madison, stopping at the Midway and Lower Geyser Basins, then continue back to West Yellowstone.

First stop: Old Faithful

Ah, Old Faithful! Located in the Upper Geyser Basin, Old Faithful is not the tallest geyser in Yellowstone, nor is it the most frequent erupting geyser, but it is certainly the most popular! And what’s not to love? Take a look below.

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Just beginning…
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A little higher…
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Full blown!

Did you know that the white, chalk-colored substance around the geysers in Yellowstone is called geyserite? And, did you also know that the Upper Geyser Basin contains an estimated 100 hydrothermal features?

The Old Faithful Inn is another icon in the Upper Geyser Basin. Completed in 1904, the inn is a National Historic Landmark.

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Old Faithful Inn

Take a peek inside this “parkitectural” wonder…

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Constructed of locally sourced logs, the 76 foot tall ceiling of the lobby is simply spectacular. The stone chimney of the fireplace is made of rock quarried nearby. The clock on the chimney, as well as many of the light fixtures and furniture pieces are original to the building.
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The dining room as seen from the second floor.

Take the Upper Geyser Basin Trail (mostly boardwalk) for a total of five miles to see most everything this area has to offer.

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Castle Geyser

Second stop: Midway and Lower Geyser Basins

Midway Geyser Basin is home to another iconic Yellowstone feature: Grand Prismatic Spring. The spring is the largest and deepest hot spring in the park, and it is known for its deep blue water and the rainbow of colors that surround its outer edges. Take the boardwalk, which starts at the Firehole River, to see the spectacular features of the area. Then take the short hike up Picture Hill to Grand Prismatic Overlook to view the basin and and the spring from above. Park at Fairy Falls trailhead for this hike, which is a little over a half mile, and be prepared for crowds and limited parking.

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Grand Prismatic Spring

Next door to Grand Prismatic lies Excelsior Geyser crater, which formed when the geyser erupted with such force that it collapsed on itself. While not as grand as as Grand Prismatic, we loved the boiling crystal blue water of Excelsior.

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Excelsior Geyser Crater
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Turquoise Pool
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Silex Spring with its bright orange and yellow thermophiles
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Clepsydra Geyser – so pretty and playful!

We’re going to end here, but we hope you will come back next week for Yellowstone – Part Five when we will be covering the Mammoth Hot Springs area of the park. Thank you for joining us for this leg of the journey. We will close with an “abstract painting” shot of the colorful thermophiles of Grand Prismatic Spring.

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Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Three

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Yellowstone Lake

→Note: this is the third post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

Destinations: West Thumb Geyser Basin and Mud Volcano Area

From West Yellowstone, drive the 14 miles to Madison Junction. Here you can go north/northeast around the top of the lower loop or you can go south/southeast around the bottom of the lower loop. Either way, the drive from Madison Junction to West Thumb Geyser Basin is approximately 36 miles. We recommend the south route.

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Fishing Cone Geyser sits in the water at the edge of the lake

West Thumb Geyser Basin lies on the shore of beautiful Yellowstone Lake. The largest high elevation alpine lake in the lower 48 states, Yellowstone Lake boasts a large population of cutthroat trout that thrive in the average 41 degree temperature of the water.

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Another view of tranquil Yellowstone Lake

First stop: West Thumb Geyser Basin

Stop by the Grant Village Visitor Center, then take the short hike on the West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail (boardwalk). Afterward, drive north to Fishing Bridge (fishing from the bridge is no longer allowed) to watch the cutthroat trout in one of their favorite spawning places.

Below are some of our favorite shots along the West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail.

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Abyss Pool
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Black Pool
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Ribbons of colorful bacteria (thermophiles) seem to ooze out of Black Pool
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Bluebell Pool

Now, we are off to our next stop: Mud Volcano.

From West Thumb, drive north approximately 21 miles to Fishing Bridge, then continue north approximately 6 miles to Mud Volcano.

Second stop: Mud Volcano Area

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Boiling, steaming, mud

Take the short boardwalk trail to see Mud Volcano and its neighbor, Dragon’s Mouth Spring.

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Another look at mud volcano
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Up close and personal with Dragon’s Mouth Spring

Dragon’s Mouth Spring was one of the highlights of our trip, but the steam, which emitted with a thunderous roar, had an extra potent sulfurous odor.

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Thermophile colonies make their home on grasses near Dragon’s Mouth Spring

Thank you so much for joining us as we travel through Yellowstone! We hope you will return to our site next week for another great Yellowstone post. We are closing this post with a couple of shots of Hayden Valley.

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Hayden Valley is the place to be early in the morning for animal sightings. We saw a lot of bison here and we also saw a grizzly bear. Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of the bear, but we were able to watch it through binoculars as it ran across a meadow.
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The Yellowstone River meanders through Hayden Valley. We found this to be one of the most tranquil and uncrowded places in the park.

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Two

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Porcelain Basin

→Note: this is the second post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

Destinations: Norris Area and Canyon Village Area

First Stop: Norris Area

From the west park entrance, drive 14 miles east to Madison Junction. At Madison Junction, continue east/northeast past Gibbon Falls, then north past Artist Paintpots to Norris. It is approximately 14 miles from Madison Junction to Norris.

Norris Geyser Basin, the hottest thermal area of Yellowstone National Park, is home to the elusive Steamboat Geyser which is the tallest geyser in the world. Steamboat Geyser has erupted recently, but sometimes remains dormant for years.

Take the three-quarter mile Porcelain Basin Trail (boardwalk) to see geysers, fumaroles, hot springs, steam vents, boiling water, and bubbling mud pots. Below are some of our favorite pictures from Porcelain Basin.

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Certain bacteria thrive in the boiling hot waters of Yellowstone National Park. These brilliant green thermophiles make an artistic display.
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Holy smokes!
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Steam vents and pristine water

The Norris area is also home to The Norris Geyser Basin Museum. The structure has a breezeway that straddles the path leading to the Porcelain Basin Terrace Overlook. Construction on the building began in 1929, and the museum is now a National Historic Landmark. This is a can’t-miss feature of the area.

Another can’t-miss feature of the Norris area is the Museum of the National Park Ranger. Originally the Norris Soldier Station, the building has seen many changes over the years, including a total rebuild using original materials and the original floor plan. Stop in to see the exhibits and watch a short film about the history of the National Park Service.

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Museum of the National Park Ranger

Travel tip: the steam emitted by Yellowstone’s geysers and vents smells like sulphur. This odor can linger on clothes and in hair.

Now on to the Canyon Village area of the park.

From Norris Junction go east 12 miles to Canyon Village.

Second stop: Canyon Village

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Coyote in a meadow between Norris and Canyon Village

Stop in at the Canyon Village Visitor Education Center. Several points along the road as well as trails offer exceptional views of the canyon and the upper and lower falls. Artists Point is a popular viewpoint. While listening to the roaring power of the falling water, hike (stairs) to the brink of Lower Falls and see them crash 309 feet down into the river canyon below. This area has several hiking trails. Check the website above for details.

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Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
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Lower Falls – taller than Niagara Falls!
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Near the brink of Lower Falls

Yellowstone – Part Two is a wrap! We are going to end this post with the grizzly bear sculpture in front of the Yellowstone History Museum in West Yellowstone, Montana. Come back next week for Part Three. We will be posting more exciting sections of Yellowstone National Park. Thank you for joining us!

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A visit to the Yellowstone History Museum in West Yellowstone is a great introduction to your trip to Yellowstone National Park. Be sure to watch the film about the 1988 forest fires.

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part One

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  • Website: Yellowstone National Park
  • Cost: $35.00 per car for a seven day pass
  • RV, tent, and backcountry camping
  • Lodges and restaurants in the park
  • Hiking, scenic drives, fishing, kayaking/canoeing, swimming, wildlife/bird watching, hydrothermal features, etc.
  • Snowmobiling, cross-country skiing in the winter, and less crowds
  • When to go: anytime. Most crowded during the summer months. We recommend September.

→Note: this is the first post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

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Forest fire? Nope, just some early morning thermal activity.

Hands down, Yellowstone is our favorite national park. Although we haven’t visited all of them yet, we can’t imagine anything topping this gem. Every aspect of the park, from the flora and the fauna to the rivers and the waterfalls to the mountains and the unique thermal features, is breathtakingly beautiful. We visited Yellowstone in the early fall, but we would love to go back for every season.

Yellowstone is 320 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah, which has the closest major airport, so that is where we begin our trip. If time permits, we recommend spending a couple of days in Salt Lake City. Here’s a link: Salt Lake City

Getting there

From Salt Lake City, take I-15 north toward Ogden, Utah. Continue north toward Pocatello, Idaho. Stay on I-15 to Idaho Falls.

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Bonus stop: Idaho Falls, Idaho. We spent the first night of our trip in Idaho Falls. A walk along the river in the city’s greenbelt/riverwalk area was the perfect way to stretch our legs after a day of travel. The city offers several parks, museums, and shopping.

*Recommended hotel in Idaho Falls: Hampton Inn.

*Recommended restaurant in Idaho Falls: Sandpiper Restaurant, 750 Lindsay Blvd.

*There are many campgrounds and RV parks in and around Idaho Falls.

Drive time between Salt Lake City and Idaho Falls: 3 hours. (The scenery is gorgeous!)

From Idaho Falls, take US Highway 20 north toward Rexburg, Idaho. Continue north to West Yellowstone, Montana, which is the west entrance into the park. Drive time between Idaho Falls and West Yellowstone: 1.75 hours.

Travel tip: while driving north of Idaho Falls, look east to see the Grand Tetons on the horizon in Grand Teton National Park. There is a pull out along US Highway 20 with signs that tell about the mountains (how they got their name) and offers a good photo op. At Ashton, you will enter the beautiful Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

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*Recommended hotel in West Yellowstone: Kelly Inn – 104 S Canyon St., West Yellowstone, Montana – (800) 259-4672.

*There are many options for tent and RV camping in West Yellowstone as well as in the park.

Destination: Yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone is huge! It takes a lot of driving and several days just to hit the highlights of the park.  However, the roads basically make an easily navigable figure eight shape (Upper Loop and Lower Loop), and with the help of the park map everything is easy to find.

Travel tip: each section of the park that we’re going to cover has either a Visitor Center and Museum, Visitor Education Center, or an Information Station. Take advantage of these excellent resources. The park rangers are extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

Now on to Madison. Since we stayed in West Yellowstone, we entered the west entrance of the park and drove 14 miles (about 30 minutes) to and through the Madison area of the park every day.  The scenery along the Madison River provided us something new each day, whether it was steam rising from the river due to the chilly morning air or animals starting their day in the meadows.

First stop: Madison Area

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Elk along the edge of the river
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Steam rising from the river

The route we’re taking in this post goes from the west park entrance to the Madison area and then north toward Norris Geyser Basin. It covers less than a quarter of the Lower Loop road which is 96 miles long.

Travel tip: traffic comes to a halt when animals are on the roadways. They have the right of way! Observe speed limits, and be prepared for delays when traveling through the park. Animals on the side of the road cause traffic jams, too, because everyone (including us) wants a picture. Remember that it is illegal to approach or feed the wildlife.

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This bad boy caused a very long traffic jam. We ate our picnic lunch in the car while we waited.
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Gibbon Falls from the scenic pull-out

Travel tip: Pull-outs for park features such as waterfalls and other points of interest can be very crowded with vehicles and pedestrians. Use caution when driving in and around these areas.

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Second stop: Artist Paintpots 

This area makes for a nice little hike and showcases some interesting features. Fumaroles (cracks or openings in the earth where a volcano let’s off steam and gasses), steamy water, and bubbling mud are some of the features that can be seen here.

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That’s going to do it for Yellowstone – Part One. Stop by next week for an exciting Part Two as we cover more of this extraordinary park. Thanks so much for traveling with us! We will close this post with a beautiful view of Mount Holmes.

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Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true products, vendors, and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own. Photo copyright infringement is not intended. Our written content and photos are copyrighted, and may not be published without our permission.

©2019