Monday, September 2, 2013

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is the first National Park, and has over 3 million visitors a year.  I was hoping to miss the Labor Day weekend, but needed to continue my travels east so that I could spend some good time in the Dakotas.  I decided to arrive via the north entrance, thru the Theodore Roosevelt Entry Arch.  This was part of the park I had not seen and hoped it would not be as crowded as the geyser portion.


I like the quote at the top “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People


On the way in I saw some antelope, and some elk.  I took the northern road towards Tower Fall.  That campground was full,  it was getting dark so I headed towards Slough Creek campground for the night.  It was really nice to see a sky full of stars again, without the light pollution in the cities.  I hadn’t seen a night sky like this since Utah last November.   The Milky Way was bright, and the North Star could hardly be seen because of so many other stars around it.  I saw a couple shooting stars and one satellite,  what a perfect way to drop off to sleep. 


I got up before 6 to see sunrise and to see if I could see wildlife out at dawn.  I did not get very far from the campsite and there were already a number of people on the ridge.  A pack of wolves had been seen there over the past few mornings.  I waited for about 1.5 hours,  but no wolves today.  There was a herd of bison though.  By the time I left,  the crowds were all there, at least 50 cars.  Labor Day weekends last day and the masses descended... 


One thing interesting about the parks is all the people waiting to see the wildlife,  sometimes at a great distance even with a spotting scope.  Above I mentioned all the people waiting for the wolves.  There were a number on the ridge I was on, and a whole other crowd on the ridge above us.  At one point I turned around to see and it looked like they were all looking in their scopes,  wondering what they were looking at, I turned the camera on to see.  They were all looking at US!  To see if we had seen anything.  At that point it was definitely time to head on.  I headed the rest of the northern road to see what else was out.  It was a pretty quiet morning,  not much be a few different herds of buffalo, and not too many people on the road. 


I stopped to see Tower Falls.  Then I headed down the eastern road towards the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  I got some good pictures of upper falls, then descended the 328 steps down “Uncle Tom’s Trail” to get pictures inside the canyon and of the lower falls.    The elevation is about 8000 feet.  The walk down is fine,  but the climb back up all those steps is a pretty strenuous climb.  There were a lot of people, some in not very good shape, and some with very small kids that should not have been making this hike.  I hope they were able to make it back to the top.  I went on to Artist Point to photograph the canyon and the falls, and this is when the rain hit.  I decided to get an early campsite,  make some lunch and call it a day to wait out the rain.


Tomorrow more Yellowstone, then on the way to Mount Rushmore.

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