From the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota and into the rolling hills of Wyoming we drove. Most of Wyoming is vast emptiness – but next on our itinerary was the area of America that Blaine has dreamt of visiting for many years – Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.
Yellowstone, America’s first National Park, encompasses a region that was once the caldera of a massive volcano. The area is still very geologically active and the unique soils and thermal features support an amazing plethora of vegetation which, in turn, supports healthy populations of North America’s largest animals – Deer, Elk, Grizzly Bears, Pronghorn Antelope, Wolves, Moose, and of course – Bison!
While Yellowstone may not be the most epic park in terms of vistas and scenic grandeur, it beats just about any other place in the contiguous 48 states for wildlife viewing. Oh, and the boiling fumaroles, sulphur springs, gaseous vents, and geysers are pretty cool too.
Apart from the well-known Old Faithful geyser (which never disappoints) we marveled at the travertine terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs and the beautiful blue-green pools that steamed in the late evening sun.
We are slowly becoming natural hot springs aficionados and the “Boiling River” has to be one of our favorite hot springs experiences to date. A scalding spring of sulphuric water cascades into the freezing cold Gardner River and mixes to create an area where you can literally control the temperature just by moving your body around. A truly otherworldly bathing experience.
We had the opportunity to embark on many hikes – coming face to face with herds of wild buffalo. Being in Yellowstone really makes you appreciate the amazing biodiversity of this country – yet how little is left intact. Excursions into wild places always seem to inspire and motivate us the most.
With our hearts full of wonder we headed South out of Yellowstone to spend a few days beneath the shadow of the truly Grand Tetons…