Monday, June 11, 2007

Grand Teton National Park (June 8)

I had to attend meetings in Jackson WY on June 7-8 at the Wort Hotel and decided to extend my trip a few days to visit the national parks in the area. My meeting ended around 3 pm on Friday afternoon, so I picked up my rental car. Just as they were handing me my keys, the rain that had been threatening for the past 2 days actually arrived.

Before leaving Jackson, I stopped by the grocery store and picked up a few bottles of water, some fruit, trail mix, and a couple bottles of Coke. Then I braved the pouring rain and headed to Grand Teton National Park.

I drove up 191 past the fish hatchery and entered the park. This is a view of the Tetons from one of the first pull outs in the park.

At Moose Junction, I decided to take the road that cuts through the interior of the park. It was raining pretty heavy (on and off) but by the time I got to the Lupine Meadows trailhead, the rain had let up. I got out and took a short walk on part of the trail. It was pretty muddy and slippery.
Then the rain started moving in again, so I hightailed it back to my car (I was really glad I splurged for the SUV).
The rain started to let up again, so I took the one-way road along Jenny Lake.
I decided to get out for a short walk at String Lake. It was sprinkling, but I tossed on my raincoat and grabbed my waterproof camera.

You can see the rain splashing in the lake as it falls.
By the time I finished my walk, I was chilled, so I cranked up the heat and let the windows defrost (and the rain let up, since it was pouring by the time I got back to the car).

I debated whether I should drive up Signal Mountain road, since the weather was less than ideal. Since I had the SUV, I decided to go for it. From the top, you can see the valley below.
On the other side, you can see Jackson Lake.

Coming back down the mountain, I decided to stop at this marshy area. I thought I saw a moose out of the corner of my eye.

I got out of the car and slogged through the mud, and found a mother and baby moose.
I was starting to lose daylight, so decided that I better head to Yellowstone before it got too late.
I saw a few elk on their evening forage.
And got one last look at the Tetons as the sun set.

By the time I reached my room at Grant Village Lodge in Yellowstone, it was black outside and all the restaurants were closed. I was happy that I had stopped at the grocery store before leaving Jackson.

Yellowstone National Park (June 9 2007)

On Saturday morning, I woke up with the Sun and headed to the restaurant at Grant Village. I had a good hearty breakfast and headed towards West Thumb Geyser Basin. There was only one other car there when I arrived - a family with two young boys. As I walked the path aroun the thermal areas, I heard a weird (and kind of scary noise). I thought the boys were goofing around. Then I saw the family come running towards me.

I asked them what the noise was. They said they didn't know and they didn't want to find out! They ran to their car and drove off. I was all alone. I contemplated running to my car too, but decided to stick around.

I heard the noise again, and realized that it was this female elk.

And she was calling her baby.

I stood quiety for a while watching them, until they got a little too close for my comfort. Then I continued my walk around the thermal areas.

After leaving West Thumb, I made a quick stop at Keplar Cascades.
And then I made my way to the park highlight, Old Faithful.
It was about an hour before Old Faithful was scheduled to blow, so I walked the upper trail to see other geysers and thermal features.

Finally it was time to see Old Faithful.
It was fairly windy, making it difficult to clearly see the water spout.
After leaving Old Faithful, I pretty much had my share of geysers and thermal areas. I skipped Upper Geyser Basin, and just took a few pictures of Midway Geyser Basin.

I decided to take the Firehole Creek one-way road.

There were a couple more geysers here.
After passing the Great Fountain Geyser, the road elevation changed, and became a narrow path above a deep canyon.

Looking into the canyon, I spotted this mother and baby elk on a little grass isthmus in the middle of the river.

Near the end of the drive was Firehole Falls.
Once I was back on the main road, I spotted some bison next to Nez Perce Creek.
I wanted to take the trail to get closer to them, but there was a big warning sign saying the trail was closed because of recent bear activity. Hopefully I will get to see bison closer up at some point.

Yellowstone (part 2)

Just past Madison, I made a quick stop at Gibbon Falls.
About two miles past the falls, I saw a male Elk in a clearing.

I found a safe place to park and walked back to take a picture.

It was already noon when I reached the junction to take the upper loop. I decided that I was enjoying my slow pace, and to just see the lower loop during this trip. I made the turn to the lower look, and almost immediately was surrounded by bison in the road. I couldn't get a good picture though.

A bit further along, I pulled off onto the Virginia Cascade Road. There was a nice picnic area, and a herd a bison were grazing right behind it.

After taking a quick picture of Virginia Cascade, I headed to Canyon Village for some lunch. After lunch, I drove to several of the overlooks for the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The lighting was really weird. This picture almost looks like a painting, rather than a photo.
From the canyon, I got this view of the falls.
and a great close-up of a big-horned sheep.
By late afternoon, I was at Fishing Bridge. There were lots of white pelicans in this area.
I drove east of Fishing Bridge, and saw a group of people clustered near Mary Bay. I got out and saw this fox.
While they were still taking pictures, I continued towards Sedge Bay. I actually pulled over to turn around, but saw this coyote only a few feet from the road.

I made a stop at Yellowstone Lake as the sun was starting to go down. I didn't want to drive in the dark, so I headed back to Grant Village. I arrived just as the last bit of light left the sky. After a quick dinner, it was back to my room for sleep.

I woke up early the next morning, and headed south out of the park back to Jackson.

On the way I spotted this deer.

I make a quick stop at Lewis Falls.

And saw this marmot (and a bunch of his quicker friends) near Moose Falls. I then left Yellowstone and headed back to the Grand Tetons.