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Albany, Texas and the Fort Griffin Fandangle

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Shackelford County Courthouse, Albany, Texas, built in 1883.

We’re in love! Albany, Texas has captured our hearts. Not only is it a beautiful small town, it sits amid rolling hills covered in mesquite, pecan, and oak trees. The town is surrounded by ranch land, and the Clear Fork Brazos River flows nearby. Albany has a rich history, proven by its thirty-five historic landmark designations, as well as historic Fort Griffin fifteen miles north of town.

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This sunflower field near Albany just makes us happy!
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This classic sits across the street from the courthouse
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Historic buildings in downtown Albany
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Restored Gulf gas station

During the last two weekends in June, the town of Albany puts on the Fort Griffin Fandangle, which is the oldest running play in Texas. This year (2019) was the eighty-first production. People come from all over to see the townspeople tell the story of the settlement of the area. This wonderful show will delight the whole family, and we highly recommend going to see it!

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IMG_5474 Fort Griffin is home to the Official State of Texas Longhorn Herd, and a few of them star in the show! We had never seen a more well behaved bunch of cattle before. Plus, they’re just kinda awesome. For more information about Fort Griffin, please see our Abilene, Texas post. Here’s a link: Abilene, Texas

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Some of the Fandangle cast

Also during Fandangle, there are many events around town, including a catered barbecue dinner, tours of historic buildings and homes, and baby longhorns on display on the courthouse lawn.

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Precious!

We bet this calliope is something you haven’t ever seen, and if you have seen one, we bet it was a long time ago. We were enthralled. This one is about 76-years-old, and they play it for thirty minutes before each show. Beware it is loud, but so intriguing! Turn up your sound and check out the video.

 

While there is a hotel and RV park in Albany, there are also hotels and campgrounds in Abilene, 35 miles south. Since we love camping in our RV, we chose to stay at Fort Griffin. The campground is not only pretty, it has clean showers and bathrooms, a playground for the kids, and full hookups. We woke up to birds singing, longhorns mooing, and a couple of spectacular sunrises. In the evenings, cicadas, tree frogs, and crickets chirped, and the dark skies afforded breathtaking views of the stars. Frankly, it was hard to leave the place.

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Fort Griffin Sunday sunrise
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This guy was singing his little heart out next to our campsite. Isn’t he gorgeous?

We’re going to close this post with a couple of shots of the old Highway 183 truss bridge over the Clear Fork Brazos River near Fort Griffin.

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From the new Highway 183 bridge. Yes, we stand in the middle of highways to get the shot.
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Standing in the middle of the old Highway 183 while looking up. No traffic on this one though.

That’s a wrap, folks. Be sure to make plans to attend the Fort Griffin Fandangle in 2020. We hope you will return to our site for more great trip ideas, tips, and tricks, and if you’re already a follower, THANK YOU for your support of our site. We do this for you. If you’re not a follower, become one so you never miss a post. We would love to have you aboard on our journeys. Until the next time…

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 Seven

 

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Peeking through the trees at the Grand Teton Mountains

→Note: this is the seventh 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

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We would be remiss if we did not mention that Grand Teton National Park is Yellowstone’s next door neighbor to the south. The John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway is the route between West Thumb (Yellowstone) and the northern tip of Jackson Lake (Grand Teton). The scenic parkway is twenty-seven miles long, but the road (US Hwy 191) continues another forty or so miles to Jackson, Wyoming, winding through the park along the Snake River. Teton Park Road is the one to take for the most scenic parts of the park. The park road begins at Jackson Lake Junction, running for approximately twenty miles, then joins US Hwy 191 at Moose Junction.

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Grand Tetons and Jackson Lake

Destination: Grand Teton National Park

  • Website link: Grand Teton National Park
  • Cost: $35.00 per car for one week pass
  • Accommodations include: lodges, cabins, dude ranch, tent camping, backcountry camping, RV campground, restaurants (hotels, campgrounds, and restaurants also available in Jackson, Wyoming)
  • Hiking, biking, scenic drives, wildlife, fishing, canoeing/kayaking, climbing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, (downhill skiing and other winter sports available in Jackson, Wyoming)
  • When to go: anytime, but check the website as well as road reports for closures during winter months

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Since this is our final Yellowstone post, we thought we would list some tips for visiting this spectacular park:

  • Don’t rush. Plan to spend several days, if not a week or more, just to see the major attractions of the park. The park is so big it would take months (or years, even) to cover the majority of its almost 3,500 square miles.
  • Make park campground and hotel/lodge reservations well in advance of your trip. These sites book months in advance. Over four million people visited the park in 2017!
  • RV sites in Yellowstone can be small and difficult to maneuver, especially for longer rigs. There are many RV parks outside the park.
  • IMG_0350The wildlife in Yellowstone (and Grand Teton) is wild! The park service recommends staying at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves, and 25 yards away from all other large animals. And, never feed the wildlife, including squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. Animals that get used to being fed by humans don’t continue to thrive in the wild.
  • Hike with a group. Bears are more likely to attack a lone traveler than to approach a group. Hikers might want to consider carrying bear spray.
  • Stay on the boardwalks and designated trails in geyser areas. People have been killed because they did not follow the rules.
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Colorful thermophiles at the edge of boiling Excelsior Geyser
  • Our last and most important tip is to plan, plan, plan before you go. Research the park’s website, watch online videos, and read blogs! Decide on everything you want to see and do while you’re there and write it down. We make a detailed itinerary for every trip. Yes, itineraries take time (and we don’t always stick to them), but it beats arriving at a destination and not having a clue about where to go, where to eat, and what to do.

Below are a few more pictures of beautiful Yellowstone National Park.

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Thank you for joining us on our Yellowstone National Park adventure. We hope that by posting our trips we are inspiring you to plan your own adventures to the places we have visited and loved. Become a follower, or simply like our page. Follow us on Facebook. Leave us a comment. Tell us about your own travels. Come back often to see more great road trip destinations, and tell your friends about us!

We leave this post with a picture of a vintage 1936 National Park Bus. Eight of these refurbished tour buses operate in the park today.

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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 Six

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→Note: this is the sixth 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: Tower-Roosevelt Area

From Mammoth Hot Springs, take the northern Upper Loop east/southeast for 18 miles toward the Tower-Roosevelt Area. Drive time between Mammoth and Tower: 45 minutes…unless you get stuck in a bison jam, and then there’s no telling how long it will take.

Travel tip: always have snacks and drinks in the car.

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Bison jam!

This part of the park is rolling hills and vast grasslands with mountain peaks in the background. We saw many bison here. Interestingly, as many bison as we have seen on our travels, we still get a thrill when we see them. Did you know that the bison in Yellowstone were almost extincted due to unenforced hunting in the early years of the park? The current genetically pure (haven’t been bred with cattle) herd, which now numbers in the thousands, are the descendants of the original twenty-four head that were diligently preserved and carefully bred by the park.

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A shot of the beauty of the most northern part of the park

Calcite Springs Overlook

The Calcite Springs Overlook is about half-way between Mammoth and Tower. This is a must-see stop when in this part of the park. There is a short trail (boardwalk with stairs) that affords great views and excellent photo ops. Our research said to allow 15 minutes for this stop, but we spent at least twice that time there enjoying the breathtaking views.

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Calcite Springs are the white cliffs along the Yellowstone River in the Yellowstone River Canyon
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Another view of the Yellowstone River

Did you know that the Yellowstone River originates in the Absaroka Mountains southeast of Yellowstone Lake? It does, and it flows through the park, then across Montana for about 700 miles until it meets the Missouri River in North Dakota. The Yellowstone River is the largest tributary of the Missouri River.

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Columnar basalt formations along the canyon edge
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Basalt column detail
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More basalt with beautiful mountain peaks in the background

A few miles after leaving this viewpoint, the road will begin to climb Dunraven Pass. While driving through this area, notice how the 1988 fires affected the landscape and how now, more than thirty years later, the forest is regenerating itself.

Continuing along the east side of the upper loop, you will find the Tower General Store, which is located a few miles south of Roosevelt Lodge. Behind the store is the Tower Fall trailhead. Uphill all the way, the trail is only one-tenth of a mile long, and the end result is a beautiful 132 foot waterfall!

Travel tip: Tower General Store has grab-and-go snacks and some fast food items. Whether eating purchased food or your own, picnic tables outside the store provide a good spot for lunch.

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Tower Fall
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Pinnacles above Tower Fall. The rock “towers” are what gives the fall its name.

That’s going to do it for this week. We thank you for joining us on our travels, and we hope that you will return to our site again and again. We are going to end the post with one more shot showcasing the beauty of the northern section of the park.

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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 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