A Travellerspoint blog

Yellowstone’s Elephant Back Trail

Sunday, June 15, 2008

sunny 16 °C

Beautiful sunny day today with high in the 60s—yea!

It’s Father’s Day so Jere gets to pick today’s activities. We start the day attending the church service at the Fishing Bridge amphitheatre; followed by lunch; and then the afternoon hiking Elephant Back Trail:

The trail starts off innocent enough:

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But after the first mile the trail becomes a snow-covered obstacle course:

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We were told that trail would have about 2 feet of snow, so we were not completely surprised.

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However the snow is much deeper (3-4 feet deep) at many places. We only sink down 2 feet into the wet snow, but it is definitely deeper than 2 feet.

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Besides the challenge of walking in deep, wet snow; we rely on following the footprints in the snow (you definitely cannot see the trail under the snow). This works fine until we get to a place where the footprints go two different directions and we cannot find a blaze marking. We hear voices, so we proceed in the direction of the voices, only to find that they are also lost. We all backtrack and finally find a blaze marking to lead us to the lookout.

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After a long break of enjoying the scenery and talking to other hikers, we head back down the mountain. Joe loves the snow!

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Of course I’m not sure which I prefer, snow at the top or the slop at the bottom of the mountain:

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We drive back to the campground for dinner and an evening of relaxation (the slip-sliding in the snow has wreaked havoc on my bad hip).

Posted by jengelman 10:01 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Yellowstone’s Old Faithful

Saturday, June 14, 2008

sunny 16 °C

Beautiful sunny morning! Yea! A great day to visit Old Faithful geyser.
We get a fairly early start and head over to Old Faithful. It’s about a 40 mile drive, and we make only one short stop. I’m happy to see the blue skies, but wondering how long the great weather is going to last.

We get to the Old Faithful area and learn that we have an hour before Old Faithful erupts, but the ranger tells us that in the next 5-15 minutes, the Beehive geyser will erupt. We head over to Beehive, sit with the crowd and enjoy the eruption of Beehive geyser.

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We eat our picnic lunch in the truck (it’s nice, but still not that warm at Noon) and then head over to watch Old Faithful erupt. We will see it erupt 3 times today while we’re in the area.

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Then we spend the next few hours roaming around the boardwalk in the area, looking at hot springs and geysers.

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At 3:30 we go to the Old Faithful Lodge for their tour. It’s a free tour given by one of the hotel staff and is really interesting. I absolutely love these old rustic national park lodges that were built in the early 1900s by the railroads. The Yellowstone Old Faithful Lodge was the first one of the rustic lodges to be built. There is so much “charm” and interesting features in the inside of this building.

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We peruse the gift shops, watch Old Faithful erupt one last time and head back to the campground for a late dinner.

Posted by jengelman 10:59 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Exploring Yellowstone: Canyon and Roosevelt areas

Friday, June 13, 2008

sunny 15 °C

We wake up to find NO SNOW! Yea! My son loves the snow, but I’ve had enough snow and am ready for warmer, dry weather.

We have a good breakfast and then head north of Fishing Bridge area, stopping often to look at the scenery. Joe is very anxious to stop at the Mud Pots area, so we take the boardwalk trail around the area and enjoy watching the bubbling pots and hot springs.

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We park at one of the many overlooks of Hayden Valley and eat our lunch in the truck. Then drive to the Yellowstone Falls area. We hike along the South Rim Trail to see the Lower and Upper Yellowstone Falls. Great hike with great views of the Lower Falls without the busloads of tourist surrounding you (although Artist Point is quite crowded). The canyon’ color near the waterfalls is wonderful.

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Unfortunately the North Rim trails are all closed this summer due to construction, so we continue north to the Canyon Visitor Center. They just opened this center last year and it is very nicely done with great exhibits about Yellowstone’s thermal activities. We also watch both movies they show in their nice theatre.

It’s already late in the afternoon, so we grab some ice cream before continuing our drive north. We see wildlife, drive through Dunhaven Pass, which still have several feet of snow on the sides of the road, and stop at Tower Falls for another short hike. We hike down to the Yellowstone River and Joe builds a dam across a small creek that joins the Yellowstone River.

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We stop at an overlook just pass the Tower Falls area and watch big horn sheep and an antelope with two babies across the river.

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Then continue on for quick stops at the Roosevelt Lodge and Petrified Tree areas. We had planned on driving a scenic dirt road but it is closed. Joe likes the sign at the gate “Road Closed Due to Poop Conditions” and gets out to take a picture.

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Someone obviously changed the word “POOR” to “POOP”, very appropriate with the buffalo droppings in the road.
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On our return trip we stop to watch a coyote and her 4 pups play near the road. She apparently has a den near the road here, so lots of cars have stopped and a ranger is posted to monitor the crowd. Very interesting and fun stop.

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We drive the long drive back to the campground, but the wildlife (including our first Yellowstone moose) and scenery make the drive go quickly.

Posted by jengelman 10:58 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Snow Day at Yellowstone National Park

Thursday, June 12, 2008

snow 1 °C

We had a long, full day yesterday so we sleep in this morning. We wake up to a fresh 3 inch layer of snow! The average June in Yellowstone has less than an inch of snow—they had a blizzard of 10 inches last Thursday and another 8 inches in the last two days!

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After driving through so much snow yesterday, we decide to just stick around the campground, do some laundry and enjoy the snow.

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade—when Yellowstone gives you snow, make snowmen:

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Joe and I have fun building our snowman and then having a huge snowball fight. There is so much snow here and it is perfect snowball conditions.

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We spend the rest of the day watching videos and playing games and reading our mail (thank you, Jackie, for sending it). Joe got a new wii game from his sister, so he is quite happy to play Mario Kart while the weather is too cold for normal outdoor activities. It snows off and on throughout the day. In the evening we make a quick trip up the road 5 miles to get cell service and check emails. I am tired of the snow and cold.

Posted by jengelman 10:56 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

A Snowy Drive to Bozeman, Montana

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

snow 0 °C

We wake up to 4 inches of snow!

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They are predicting a high of 31 degrees F today, so we are going to drive up to Bozeman, Montana to visit Jere's Dad, who is in Bozeman for an Airstream Rally. It is simply too cold to enjoy any outdoor activities. It snows for most of the ride to Bozeman. We had expected cold, but the snow is a surprise and makes for a slow, long trip to Bozeman.

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On our way through the park we see a group of 3 gray wolves eating their recent kill (a baby elk). We have never seen a gray wolf in the wild, so we pull over and watch the wolves.

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West Yellowstone, just outside of Yellowstone National Park:

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The road north to Bozeman:

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After several hours to make our 100 mile trip to Bozeman, we arrive in Bozeman, Montana and have a nice visit with Jere's Dad and Darlene. Jere's Dad is helping to set up for the Airstream Rally, which begins in about 2 weeks. They expect about 800 Airstream trailers there for their annual International Rally.

Our drive home is a lot less snowy. We take a different route and enter Yellowstone at Mammoth Springs instead of West Yellowstone. We stop for buffalo burgers at a little drive-in, The Corral Drive-In, just before entering the park. The burgers are surprisingly wonderful.

We enter the park and then the snow returns as we drive through the park.

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We do see another bear, which is always fun:

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We eventually get back to the Fishing Bridge RV Park in Yellowstone and call it a day.

Posted by jengelman 11:43 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

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