“Where are the flesh-eaters?”
Today was a slow start. We sat around the trailer chatting about who was going and whether to wait. Eventually, about 1:00 pm, all of us, Noreen, Aric, Dom and I, got moving and on our way. We arrived at Yellowstone National Park around 1:30 pm.
As planned, we took the northern loop from Madison through Norris and continued north. The construction on the segment between those two villages slowed our start even more. We waited in line for 15 to 20 minutes.
Throughout this trip, right from the git-go, leaving Phoenix, Aric has been begging to see some wildlife. After seeing hundreds of squirrels, deer, elk and bison, he became bored and wanted to see something more ferrocious, like bears or wolves. The tales of the wolf stalking me and him was not enough, and maybe even fueled his thrill-seeking.
Our first stop, after the long delay for construction, was at Artists Paintpots. These are small cauldrons that produce sulfur. The sulfur’s very pungent, rotten-egg odor can be smelled almost everywhere you go in Yellowstone.
From there we went to Norris Geyser basin. Nobody else felt like hiking, and I wasn’t quite prepared for even a long walk. So I snapped a couple photos from the access steps and we headed on to the next stop.
Along our drive from Norris to Mammoth Hot Springs, we saw a few deer and made a couple stops. We took a short drive to Sheepeater Cliffs. It is a very small cliff, maybe 30 feet high. There were a couple kids who climbed the cliff face. A crazy little chipmunk started chasing me while I was trying to take his photo. After escaping the rath of the chipmunk, I was able to take a photo of his partner-in-crime eating a potato chip. Next, I hiked around the edge and up to the top of the cliffs. A simple hike that gave me a nice view of the creek below.
Our drive continued north to Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. We saw many deer along the way. At the Upper Terraces we got some unique photos of strange rock formations. Some of the rocks have formed stalactites.
In Mammoth, we did a little shopping. I bought a t-shirt and ball cap, nothing fancy. The four of us ate lunch at a small fast food and ice cream shop. With lunch, I had a Old Faithful Ale. It was good, but nothing special.
After eating, we headed east from Mammoth village toward Tower-Roosevelt village. We stopped at Undine Falls.
To try to get a little more view of animals in the wild, we took Blacktail Plateau Drive; a small single-lane dirt road. This got us well off the main road. But about all the wildlife we saw were squirrels, chipmunks and maybe a yellow bellied marmot. (I’ve also heard these called “rock chucks”. I don’t know their correct name.) At one point we saw a very large grizzly-bear shape on top of a hill. We were able to get a closer look using binoculars. It turned out to be a boulder carved to look like a bear. Very good gag by somebody. We didn’t think to get a photo until we were well past it.
At the end of Blacktail Plateau Drive we got to see a small black bear. He was off on a second road to the Petrified Tree. We stopped and got a couple good photos.
Because it was getting late, we decided to begin heading back. We continued along the same route, but more with the purpose of getting out than sightseeing. However, we did get a few quick photos of animals along the way. At one point near Dunraven Pass, we got to see a grizzly bear and two cubs. Aric got out of the car and positioned himself with a dozen other tourists photographing the bears. Unfortunately, at this point, the digital camera battery was done, so he had to take video.
We continued on our way back. The exit route between Norris to Madison was under construction, but the other route would be two hour drive by way of Old Faithful. We cut it close getting out; they were closing our easy exit as we got through Norris. The closure began at 10:00 pm, and we arrived at 10:05 pm. But, they were still waiting to let the last group through. We got back to the trailer about 10:30 or 11:00 pm.