Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Great Western Adventure: Day 10

Interested in what we did before we returned to Yellowstone?

Day 10: The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Lamar Valley
After waking up from what felt like the best sleep of my life after camping for three days, Mr. Pinds and I walked down to the cafeteria for our usual breakfast of oatmeal with raisins, bacon, a biscuit, and an apple.  We then hopped in the car to go to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone for a ranger-led walk.

On the way, we saw signs for Mud Volcano, so we stopped.  This used to be in the shape of a volcano, but in the 1870s it blew itself apart.  Now it's this bubbly hole of mud and it smells really badly of sulfur.

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A little bit down the road we saw a bunch of people pulled over so we decided to stop.  There were a bunch of bison in the valley below but there were also three bears!  You can see them in the top left-hand corner of this picture.

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We watched them run along the creek.  They are insanely fast!  We were really far away though, and there was a ranger there making sure no one did anything stupid, so we were out of harms way.  They then swam across the creek (they're fast swimmers too—there's no escaping them!) and then ran up into the woods.

At that point it was around lunchtime, so we stopped at one of the small take out restaurants and got some sandwiches.  They were terrible!  I'm not sure why Yellowstone can't seem to put together decent food, but they were pretty repulsive.  Unfortunately they didn't turn out to be the worst lunch we would have while there.

We still had some time before the ranger walk, so we swung by the Artist Paintpots.  I could have stood here all day.  The bubbling sound of the mud and watching it pop and bubble is so relaxing.  They should make videos of it and sell it for personal therapy.  I seriously loved it there.

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Unfortunately we had to get back in the car if we wanted to make it to the Grand Canyon in time for the ranger walk, so Mr. Pinds dragged me away.  At the Grand Canyon, we met Ranger Don.

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He was great!  He has been working as a ranger at Yellowstone for years, so he knew a ton of history.

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He told us that the people preserving Yellowstone have been trying to make it less about tourism and more about nature.  Over the past 50 years or so, they have been removing the hotels that are right next to the main geological areas, like the Grand Canyon, and locating them where they won't disturb the natural landscape and view.  This was surprising to me since everything is so corporate these days.  I guess the government is doing some things well!

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By the Lower Falls you can see the rock that was the inspiration for the park's name. It's literally yellow stone!

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After the walk, upon Ranger Don's suggestion, we visited Artist Point, which is a little farther down the river from the Lower Falls and is the same view that Thomas Moran painted.

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From there, we drove north to have dinner at the Roosevelt Lodge.  I had my first taste of elk and bison in a delicious pasta dish.  We then traveled east to Lamar Valley, which was recommended to us by our guides in the Tetons.  They assured us that if we went to Lamar Valley around 7:00pm we would have the greatest chance of seeing packs of animals feeding, including a wolf pack.

As soon as we entered the area we saw a mangy looking coyote off in the distance, so we were pretty excited that we would get to see more animals.  We made our way down the road along the valley, where we saw bison and some pronghorns.

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Eventually we saw a large group of people standing in a field who appeared to be watching something.  We decided to pull over and see what was up.  A lot of the people had crazy high-powered lenses for their cameras, so we knew it had to be something good.  It turned out to be a wolf feasting on a carcass.  We were able to see him pretty well with our binoculars, but he looks tiny in our pictures.  In reality, the wolf is bigger than a German Shepard.  It wasn't a wolf pack, but at least we got to see a wolf! He's right in the middle of the picture.

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We wandered back to our car when the sun had almost completely set and then had the daunting task of driving the windy mountain roads in the dark back to our cabin.

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When we were almost to our cabin, we stopped at a restaurant and rewarded ourselves with some dessert.

Once we got back to the cabin we were exhausted.  Right before we turned in for the night, we heard a coyote cry, which was followed up by the pack of coyotes crying.  Goodnight, Yellowstone.

Up Next: Mr. Pinds and I kayak on Yellowstone Lake!


  1. How cool! It's awesome how much wildlife you got to see!!

  2. @gingermakes I know! We were definitely not disappointed with the variety of wildlife that we saw during the entire trip. I highly recommend Yellowstone as a vacation destination!


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