Jun 25, 2014

June 25 - Day one in Yellowstone NP

This morning we headed into Yellowstone without a clue as to where we'd be staying. Figured worst case was finding a semi-hidden place to parking-lot-dock. The climb into the Park is gradual but steady... on up to the 8,000 feet level where things flatten off a bit. First stop was the Grant Village area where we made a bee-line for the campground office to beg for any site they might have. As luck would have it we snagged one of the last 4 available sites for the night (cancellations... no-shows...). My Senior Pass is certainly paying off this trip... this one was $14.80/night including showers, half what it would be if I was a young kid (less than 62).

Our observations of NP campgrounds are that they're old (just like this author), designed years ago for tents and much smaller rigs, are plumb-full three months out of the year, and get a lot of wear and tear from all the traffic. But we're here, right? We're here to see the Park and there really aren't good alternatives unless one has hundreds of dollars to spend every night on the nice Park hotels that cater to... well, those with hundreds of dollars to spend every night. That's not us. So we endure the less-than-ideal conditions and enjoy the people around us as best we can.

After securing our site for tonight, we thought we'd try out an idea. We drove to the next campground to the north... Bay Bridge... to see if they might have a site available for tomorrow night. They did. So with credentials in hand, we drove further north to Canyon Village. Once again the campground office came through and we nailed down a spot for two more nights... giving us a total of four nights in the otherwise "sold-out" Yellowstone Park.

On the way back to Grant Village we tried to stop at the trail to the brink of the lower Yellowstone Falls (too danged many people, cars, trucks, buses, RVs -- Yikes) but did find a more-or-less secluded pull-off along the full and flowing Yellowstone River where we lingered for a while. We also stopped and walked around the Mud Volcano area and a little later, the West Thumb Geyser Basin.

A brief observed "duh?" moment occurred at the Geyser Basin. First, it's important that the reader understand the setting: the Geyser Basin is along the shore of an arm of Lake Yellowstone... the "West Thumb" as it's called. All sorts of bubbling and gurgling thermal things are spewing hot steamy sulfur-y water, and the pools of all this water recently liberated from deep underground fill-up and eventually flow into the Lake. It's been going on for who knows how many hundreds or thousands of years continuously.

Anyway, we observed (and overheard) a woman asking a veteran Park Ranger the following question. "Why does the Park Service allow all this stinky water to flow into the Lake?" The dumbfounded Ranger searched for an answer and could only muster that "it's a natural process that has been doing this for many years... the system has adapted." I'll just bet he also passed that one along at the Ranger happy-hour later that evening.

Home to some yummy leftovers.

Camp tonight: Grant Village NFS CG site B51
Miles today:  161
Odometer:  8305
N44.395, W110.563

Pics from the day... a few.  For more click here.

Bison aplenty. 

Yellowstone Lake

Good spot along the Yellowstone to rest and have a snack.

West Thumb Geyser Basin... and all that "stinky" water.

Camp at Grant Village CG (NPS)

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