After a long, almost seven hour drive, we arrived in West Yellowstone, Montana. The town reminded me of a western mining town--of course it was modern day rendition of the old era. The Yellowstone Park Hotel would be our home base for the next four nights.
To try to save a little time, we scurried down to the information center for the park which was just about to close. As a matter of fact as we were waiting for the couple in front of us to finish, the lights went out.
The park ranger looked at us, shrugged his shoulders, and said, "How can I help you?" He gave us a quick run down of what to pay attention to in the park and where the best spots to observe wildlife were. We went off to find a cup of coffee and a place to sit and peruse the literature he put into our hands.
The next three days were amazing. The weather turned on us and offered a little rain but it didn't dampen our enthusiasm. There are basically two loops to the park, an upper and lower. We knew that the weather was iffy for the first two days and we wanted to see Old Faithful when it was predicted to be better weather on our third day. With that in mind we drove the upper loop all the way to Tower where we discovered that the lodge there where we thought we'd get lunch was closed. Undaunted, we doubled back and found something to eat at Mammoth where there was a hotel and dining area and some elk mingling with all the people.
The neat thing about our drive was that the rain either slowed or stopped almost every time we were ready to get out of the car. It did the same thing the next day only this time it was actually rain mixed with snow. We started off the morning with a light snow covering and news that the road between the Tower where we'd left off the day before and the Canyon where we were going to turn north and finish the upper loop was closed due to ice on the road. We decided to head south instead and explore the area between the Canyon and the Lake. That worked well with the weather really cooperating by the end of the day.
Our third day was not as sunny as we'd hoped but at least it wasn't raining or snowing as we watched Old Faithful and explored the other geothermal areas in the lower loop of the park. That day we spent almost as much time watching wildlife as we did the geysers.
So, how many pictures of bison and elk can one person take? Lots! And there was so much more. I decided that the next series of posts on Yellowstone will not be a blow by blow each day but rather divided up into categories of wildlife and natural wonders. Stay with me. The best is yet to come.