Black bear, elk with large antlers, and scenery in the Lamar Valley area

We took our last trip into Yellowstone yesterday as we leave the area tomorrow.  We decided to drive through Lamar Valley which is at the opposite end of the park from where we are staying, so it was about a 2.5 hour drive just to get there!  But, it’s a beautiful area!  The valley is long and deep and has a river running through it, and because of that there was a HUGE herd of bison there.  Unfortunately, the distance from the road to where the bison were was too great for any pictures – you would have seen a large valley with small brown bumps in it LOL

But, we did get some great shots of the scenery around that part of the park.  Rugged mountains, still snow in the higher parts (and it was 85 yesterday afternoon!!) and waterfalls.

We planned our trip so we would be driving through a lot of the area during the early evening hours when animals are more active, or so we’ve been told.  We did see a black bear and a large elk with a large rack of antlers.

Here are photos we took yesterday:

Riding horses through the Montana countryside

There are several horse ranches around West Yellowstone that offer horseback riding.  We chose one and took a 2-hour ride through the hills to a small lake.  We both ended up pretty sore as I’ve never really ridden a horse and it’s been years and years since Jeff has, but we both enjoyed the ride and the scenery very much.

There were 4 of us for the ride, one “wrangler” – a 23-year old girl who’s going to college in Virginia and comes to West Yellowstone every summer to work with on the ranch, Jeff and me, and a boy around 18 who was here with his mother and others to do a photo shoot at the horse ranch.  He didn’t have anything to do on this day so decided to take a ride, the next day he was going to be in the shoot and wouldn’t have a chance to do anything else.

My horse was named Sunny and she seemed a bit more high-strung than the other horses.  She wanted to be right up against the horse in front of us and when I pulled her back she would toss her head and bounce around a bit.  Ouch!  I noticed that Jeff’s horse Hawk didn’t do that.  But both horses knew the trail and were great to ride.

Here’s a few pictures of our ride:

The full moon watches Old Faithful erupt!

While shopping in town one day a lady mentioned that if we want to see something really cool, we should go out to Old Faithful the night of the full moon and see the eruption by moonlight.  So, we did!  Full moon was on June 23rd and it rose about 9:25pm.   Of course, it wasn’t even dark yet at that time!

By the time the moon rose enough and it got dark enough for the pictures to come out good, we had to wait for the eruption predicted to be at 11pm!  But, we had fun watching the stars come out and sitting in the quiet darkness quite a ways away from the lodges and other people so we would get good shots of the moon right behind the eruption.

Here are the pictures we took:

The upper geyser basin at Yellowstone – home to Old Faithful and several other cone geysers

We toured the upper geyser basin yesterday and were amazed at how many other fairly predictable cone geysers there are in addition to Old Faithful!  One of the most impressive is the Grand Geyser, which is predictable to +-90 minutes so it’s one that people will sit and wait for an eruption.  We did, and we only had to wait about 15 minutes to see it erupt!

Two other really unusual geysers are the Grotto geyser, named that because it has holes in the cone that make it look like a grotto, and the Castle geyser, from most angles it does look like a castle!

I added some photos of pools and other geysers we saw.  AND, at one point while walking along the boardwalk (people have to stay on paths or boardwalks because of the fragile state of the geysers, pools, earth crust – people used to break through the crust and get burned!) we saw fairly fresh grizzly tracks right next to the boardwalk!  In a pretty popular area of the park that is visited by thousands of people each day!

Here are the photos we took:


Geysers and hot springs right on the edge of Yellowstone Lake (and one IN the lake itself!)

We visited yet another geyser basin in Yellowstone yesterday.  This one is right on the edge of Yellowstone Lake and has a lot of variety in the type of geysers, mud pots and hot springs in one small area.

There’s one geyser actually in the lake, pictured above. It’s called Fishing Hole Geyser and it’s a few feet above the lake in the late summer/early fall when the water level in the lake falls.  This next photo (not taken by me) shows it in Sept when it’s sticks up above the water level.  It’s called Fishing Hole Geyser because, back in the 1930s before there was much done to preserve and protect the natural resources, visitors to the park would catch a fish in the lake right near the geyser and then dip the fish, still on the line, into the geyser and bring out a cooked fish ready to eat!  (Due to the arsenic and other toxic chemicals in geysers, you wonder that it didn’t kill people who would eat those fish!)

The water in the hot springs is quite hot, usually between 175 and 198 degrees Farenheit.  We saw some small bones at the edge of one spring and the ranger explained that a few years ago a baby elk wandered into the spring and was immediately killed and boiled.  Rangers were alerted and came and pulled out most of the carcass, but the lower part had already started to fall apart and was left in the shallow water.  They removed the rest of it to prevent predators coming by and either getting injured/killed or causing damage to the natural resource.

Some of the hot springs near the lake are a beautiful blue, and others are a more yellow/orange color.  The color range is due to the different chemicals found in the various hot springs, most of which have separate water sources!  Here are more pictures:


Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT – cool dinosaurs!

We spent a day and travelled up to Bozeman, MT.  It’s about 90 miles and took us over 2 hours to get there, all was through beautiful country!

We went to the Museum of the Rockies, which is run by the Univ. of Montana, Bozeman.  It was a really good trip.  They have a planetarium and we saw a show called “The Big Sky Tonight” which showed where the stars and constellations would be tonight.  That was good cause it was real cloudy by that night…we haven’t had many clear nights so we haven’t seen many stars while in MT!

We then walked through the dinosaur section of the museum with a docent.  They have a lot of really cool exhibits.  Here are a few pictures below.

And, while in Bozeman we stopped at the Walmart to pick up a few supplies.  It’s hard to believe for a city girl like me, but that’s the nearest Walmart to where we’re staying (it’s 90 miles away!)  LOL

Finally! We saw a grizzly bear in the wild and she had a cub with her too!

As we drove through Yellowstone yesterday on our way back from visiting another geyser basin (there are SO MANY here in Yellowstone!) we saw several cars on the side of the road and people out of their cars all looking in one direction.  That’s a sign that there’s an animal nearby.  Most of the time it’s one or more bison, sometimes elk and once an eagle in a tree (too far away for our camera to get a good shot).  But, FINALLY today it was a grizzly and her cub.  They were about 2 football fields away, behind a river and in an area with lots of felled trees, so we had trouble seeing them through the trees but we pulled over immediately and went to the crowd and started looking.  Jeff got a few good pictures which are below.

Of course, everybody else wanted to know what was going on too, and pretty soon the road was totally clogged with cars.  Lots of people didn’t try to pull over, they just stopped in the road and asked what we saw and tried to see it too.  Or, they would pull partway out of the road but not enough so cars could get past.  Shortly some rangers came along with bullhorns and started telling people to get out of the road or move along!  Luckily we got there early enough to get off the road and not be in anyone’s way.

We were there about 20 minutes, hoping the bears would come out into more open land, and telling newcomers where to look to see them.  It was fun to see kids when they finally got a glimpse of the bears!  Several people with really professional looking camera gear went down into the marsh next to the road to get closer.  They felt pretty safe because the river was between us and them and still didn’t get anywhere near the 100 yards the rangers say to keep between people and bears.  They probably got some really good photos!  We are satisfied with the ones we got!

We saw a lone wolf trotting across a meadow in search of a meal

During a drive through the park we saw lots of bison, as usual, and finally saw a wolf.  One wolf, trotting across a meadow.  He stopped periodically and would sit very still, and once we saw him dive and then crunch on what must have been a mouse or small rabbit.  He was quite a ways away so we didn’t see it real clearly. But, it was exciting to see a wolf out in the wild.  There were several bison lounging in the meadow where he was crossing, and they didn’t seem to pay any attention to him or him to them, but we noticed his path didn’t come very close to them.  Here are a few pictures: