Yellowstone National Park 2014

Drive Through Rocky Mountains

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

For our ten year anniversary we decided to return to Yellowstone National Park.  This is where we spent our honeymoon and I thought it would be a great spot to return to.  The first set of photos here, and the panoramic ones below, are when we first entered the Big Horn Mountains. 



Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


360 Degree View of the Foot of The Big Horn Mountains

(Click on Image for Larger Picture)


Old Faithful

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

Here are a couple of pictures from Old Faithful.  We did not spend much time around this area and did not have much of a chance to do any hiking around the smaller hot springs here.

I would like to take time to mention that if you do plan on visiting Yellowstone and you have pets, please be aware that they are not allowed on the trails.  The most they are allowed to walk around are some overlooks, a few hot springs and geysers that you can see from the parking lots, and no more that one hundred feet from any paved surface.  If you do bring pets, please be aware that you will have to leave them in your vehicles, or campsite, so please be prepared for this.  Further questions regarding pets can be answered by the park officials.



Firehole Falls Tour

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

This was our first driving tour of the trip.  There is a little spur going off the road, on the way to the Old Faithful, leading to an area called the Firehole Falls.  There is some pretty spectacular views of the river and falls along this short drive. 



Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


Fountain Flat Drive

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

Fountain Flat Drive is a good place to get some good views of wildlife.  Although there were only the two bison here when we were visiting, it was in this area that we saw a whole herd crossing the main road about a mile away from this road. 



360 Degree View of Flat Fountain Drive

(Click on Image for Larger Picture)


Ravens

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

One thing we forgot about was the Ravens when traveling out west.  When we were taking a ranger guided tour while visiting Arches National Park a few years back, the ranger mentioned how smart Ravens were.  They would work in packs to steal food from picnickers.  One would make a scene, to get everyone's attention, while the others were sneaking around from behind to steal food.  While we were parked in the Flat Fountain area, we saw two Ravens in a tree making a fuss.  After a few short minutes, one disappeared, but we did not think anything of it.  When we were finished and walking back to our truck, we noticed that the one that had disappeared was sitting on the back of our truck looking at the open window.  He moved closer to it, but as we came back, he saw us and eventually gave up.  After that, I made it a point to close all windows, not just to prevent other people from getting in the truck, but the critters as well.  Just something to keep in mind if you visit out west.    



Fountain Paint Pot

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

The Fountain Paint Pot area gets its name from the variety of colors produced by one springs called Bacteria Mat, as well as the more muddy area shown above which is actually the hot spring called Fountain Paint Pot.  This is a really neat area to visit because of the variety of hot springs that you can hike around.  There is a really easy board walk to take, and it does loop around farther than these photos indicate.     



Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


Midway Geyser Basin

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

Midway Geyser Basin is home to the largest hot spring, in Yellowstone National Park, Grand Prismatic Spring.  There are a few other hot springs here as well and those are Excelsior Geyser, Turquoise and Opal Pool.     



(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

This was just an interesting place to pull over along the drive down to the Old Faithful area.  The photos directly below are a series of a small hot spring that we saw starting to bubble over and I was fortunate enough to shots of most of the activity.    



(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

These two panoramic photos are of the valley that the above hot spring is located.  I was surprised to see people walking along the base of the hill in the distance before I realized it is a hiking trail out to some other hot springs.  The parking lot is located on the left side of the first panoramic in the extreme distance.   



Biscuit Basin

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

Our next stop in the driving tour was Biscuit Basin.  I was going to take a stroll a little farter down the path, but there were few people in the area and it looked to be a little longer than I wanted to stray way from Lisa and Sammy.  I would like to take time to point out the sign in the second picture.  It is a warning sign that is posted at all locations like this warning people to stay on the paths.  There are a lot of hidden dangers beneath the ground and you never know where you are stepping.  



Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


Black Sand Basin

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

I liked this stop at Black Sand Basin because I did not have to stray too far from the parking lot to get a good view of the geysers and hot springs.  The photo series below is of a small geyser that was going really well when we arrived. 



(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


White Dome Geyser

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

White Dome Geyser is centuries old, according the description in the marker sign, and is one of the largest cone geysers in Yellowstone. 



Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


Firehole Lake

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

Firehole Lake sort of lives up to its name.  There were a few hot springs that were boiling over, but I thought the small creek that ran through this area with steam coming off of its surface was really interesting.  The series below is of another small spring boiling over. 



(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


Drive from Canyon Village to Tower-Roosevelt

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

This was day three of our trip to Yellowstone and believe it or not, this was the first time we were close enough to some Bison to get a few really good shots.  And this as with a telephoto lens.  This as on our drive from the campground up to Mammoth Hot Springs.  



(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

There are a few good pull offs that allow you a great view of the center of the caldera.  If you visit Yellowstone, keep in mind that it is a massive volcano.  That is the reason behind all of the hot springs and geysers.  



Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

This was after we started coming down out of the hills.  These photos are taken looking roughly northwest.  It is interesting to see how the area is starting to recover from the wildfires.  



Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

This is a neat area geologically speaking.  It is around the Tower-Roosevelt area, but I cannot remember if it was before or after that junction. 



Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


Mammoth Hot Springs

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

Mammoth Hot Springs was one of the earliest settlements in Yellowstone, and is still a hub of tourism today.  It is located in the northwestern part of the park and is open year round.  If you want a good place to watch the Elk, this is a great location for that.  But please use caution around them and follow park rules when encountering them.  Not only for your safety, but for theirs as well.  Remember, this is their home and we are just visitors.



Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

Mammoth Hot Springs Terrance is a really fun place to hike around.  the paths are really easy to manage and there are so many geological structures to look at.  While we did not walk through this this trip, we did the previous, and not a whole lot has changed with access to the various attractions. 



Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


Mammoth Hot Springs Southern Valley

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

While I labeled this Mammoth Hot Springs Southern Valley, that is not the official name of this area.  I am not certain what the locals would call it, but it does offer a really nice view.  The bridge in the pictures, down in the valley, is actually the road that we took to get to Mammoth Hot Springs.  Due to some road construction in the park at this time, this was the only way to reach this location. 



Upper Terrace Drive

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

There are quite a few hiking paths/boardwalks that you can take around and over this area, but if you would prefer, there is a nice drive that takes you around the upper terrace area called Upper Terrace Drive.  You really get some good views and there are a few spots to pull over and take in the entire area.



Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


Gibbon Falls

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

Gibbon Falls was a nice little place that we had passed a few times, but finally stopped on our way by on the fourth day of our trip.  While there are many hot springs and geysers to visit in the park, there are many other interesting sites such as the water falls, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  Those pictures are coming up next.



Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is a fun drive.  There is a north side and a south side drive that you can take.  This time we took the north side and last time we took the south.  The north seems to have more overlooks, while the south as an overlook that extends into the canyon a little bit.



(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

The last time we were here, we took this "little" hike down to the bottom of the falls.  Looking at it from this side, it is more impressive that you would think when hiking down it.  Also, the last time we were here, we only saw a couple of people while exploring this path.  It looks as if a few more people were brave enough to try it this year.



(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

As I mentioned in the last section, there is a spot along the south side drive where the overlook extends a bit into the canyon.  It is hard to make out, but if you look closely in the second and third picture of the first row, you can almost make it out.  In the near upper right, there is a overlook, and in the panoramic shots below, there is one photo that show the road leading to this overlook. 



Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


Sulphur Caldron

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

This was a nice little pull off along the road on our way to the southern end of the park.  It's places like this that really remind you that you are in fact driving through the heart of an active volcano.  I should mention that the last picture in this series was actually taken in the Inspiration Point area of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  It just fit nicely in this section.



Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


Yellowstone Lake

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

Another stop along the drive was Yellowstone Village and Yellowstone Lake.  The one thing you do not get a feel for in the pictures is the drop from the road level down to the lake.  It is actually quite a ways down to the shore than you would think.



Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


West Thumb Geyser Basin

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

Our final stop in this leg or our trip was at West Thumb Geyser Basin.  I was really surprised to see the amount of people here since the last few stops seemed to be fairly quite.  Even the facilities and gift shop were open here.  It is a nice little boardwalk tour around the geysers and some really striking color differences between the surrounding areas and some of the pools. 



Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


Bison Herd

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

On our way back from camp, we came across a pleasant surprise.  A large herd of bison were making their way through the valley, across the plain, not sure what to call the place exactly.  But this was the largest herd we had seen on either trip we made to Yellowstone.  I thought it was interesting how they navigated the pile of cars along the road as well.  I would like to make a comment on this however.  If you do see a large herd of bison moving through the park, please stop on either side of it, and not in the middle.  I was watching the interaction with the cars and the bison and was waiting for some sort of incident, but thankfully none happened.  



Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


Gibbon, Madison, and Firehole River Fork

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

The two photos above are of the fork of the three rivers, Gibbon, Madison, and Firehole Rivers.  This spot was just outside of Madison Campground near the west entrance of the park.  Apparently it is featured regularly in photos, commercials and videos themed around fishing.  I will have to look up the detail on that and make any changes later.  I looked at the spot, I did think it had a familiar look and feel about it, but then Lisa mentioned that she read the previous fact about it.

The last photo was actually made up of four different photos.  I was trying to get some photos of the ducks taking off from the river.  When I looked at the photos later, I realized that they would make a great panoramic of the ducks taking off.  While you see five in the picture, there are in reality only two that were taking off.  The software cropped out the last set of them flying by the people on the bank, but I still got a great effect with this photo.



Norris Geyser Basin

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

Our last stop on our way out of Yellowstone was Norris Geyser Basin.  This is a fairly large area with quite a few boardwalks and hiking trails.  While I wanted to explore more, we really need to get on the road.  Unfortunately I did not realize how far it was from her to the northeast gate, but it was quite a hefty distance.  However, the drive was definitely worth it as you will see below in the final set of photos "The Coulter Pass."



Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)


The Coulter Pass

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

When we left the park, we decided to go out the Northeast Entrance.  We were on our way to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana, and this was the most direct route.  It was a very interesting drive to the gate, and it did take considerably longer that I thought it should, but it was worth the drive.  The road also took us up to 10,000 feet through Coulter Pass.  The first few photos are of the area just before entering the pass, while the last five were at a rest area on the other side.  I highly recommend this route, but only if the weather is favorable.  Also, please keep in mind that if you are driving a larger RV or pulling a fairly decent size trailer, you may not want to take this route.



360 Degree View of Approach to the Coulter Pass

(Click on Image for Larger Picture)


Panoramic

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

As I mentioned above, these photos were just before our ascent into the Coulter Pass.  We did not realize how high we were actually going until, at one point, we could see we were above the snowline.  The first photo is were we stopped for lunch.  It had a really great view.  The last photo is still just below the pass, believe it or not.  It was a steep and winding road.



(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

The photos above are from a rest area, overlook, on the other side of the Coulter Pass.  I did not catch the official name of this place when we were there, but for reference on this page I will call it the Coulter Pass Rest Stop.  This was a wonderful stop and I did not expect to see such a interesting overlook.  If you look closely in the photos that show the valley floor, can see the road we ended up on after winding our way down from this point. 



360 Degree View of Coulter Pass Rest Stop

(Click on Image for Larger Picture)


Night Stop

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

These photos were actually taken a couple of nights later on our way home from the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.  We stopped for gas and found a military museum of some sort right next door.  I was really happy with the way the photos turned out in the pitch black of night.  I would have loved to stay around and checked out the rest of museum in the morning, but we still had a long way to go before we reached home.  It just goes to show that you never know what you are going to come across in your travels.