September 9 – Yellowstone National Park – Mammoth Hot Springs

Today, we toured the northern section of the Park’s figure-eight road pattern.  Both the Yellowstone River and range land where the bison graze were partly shrouded in a morning mist.

We saw an osprey and just missed a fox sighting in the same area.

As the mist lifted, we were treated to a variety of landscapes;

Which also included a great blue heron admiring his reflection while fishing,

Tower Falls,

a section of road where the cliffs literally overhung the roadway,

a petrified redwood tree,

and, a chipmunk  gnawing on a strand of grass.

After arriving at Mammoth Hot Springs, our initial destination, we drove north to the North Entrance to do a tourist thing and drive through the old entrance gate, dating to the time Mammoth was an Army fort in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

As luck would have it, it was a propitious decision as at the far north end of the park we were treated to a herd of grazing pronghorn sheep.

We next hiked through the Mammoth Hot Springs.  They are dramatically different from the other thermal feathers we’d seen since entering Yellowstone.  Rather than spewing geysers and bubbling mud pots, these were living sculptures of limestone and other rocks, together with thermophiles which often added a pallet of colors.

Liberty Cap

Jupiter Terrace

Angel Spring Terrace

Cleopatra Terrace

Orange Spring Mound

Palette Springs

From Mammoth, we drove south to Norris Geyser Basin, one of the hottest and most dynamic of Yellowstone’s hydrothermal areas.  Many of its hot springs and fumaroles have temperatures above the boiling point of water (212oF).  The area’s most prominent feature is Steamboat Geyser, which has eruptions recorded above 300’, well above the highest output of Old Faithful.  However, while we were there, Steamboat’s display was very tame.

Other impressive and colorful highlights included Pearl Geyser.

Echinus Geyser

Green Dragon Spring

Minute Geyser


Porcelain Basin

Enroute back to our campground, we again had to drive the gauntlet of bison who were convinced the roads were their domain whenever they wanted.

We finally rounded the last corner into Fishing Bridge, our campground only ½ mile away, just as we were about to cross the bridge over the Yellowstone River, we looked to our right only to see a large brown creature suddenly decide to charge down a hill at us.

Fortunately, our accelerator was quicker than the bison … who promptly started a leisurely stroll across the bridge holding up all of the traffic in both directions.

Although disappointed that we failed to spot a bear, wolf, fox or even a coyote, our visit to Yellowstone was incredibly rewarding.

Tomorrow, we resume our trip … ever so slowly toward Pennsylvania.

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