Saturday, August 27, 2011

Yellowstone - Day 5

Driving from where we were staying in Island Park to the West Entrance of Yellowstone was 35 miles one way. That isn't very far, but with Addison, it seemed even further. Since she doesn't sleep in the car and Yellowstone is a huge park it was getting a little taxing to drive back and forth everyday. We decided to pack an overnight bag and see if we could find a spot to sleep closer to the park that night. When we left our cabin this is what greeted us on the road. The driver fell asleep about 3 am (wasn't hurt) and we had a nice chat with the police officer flagging traffic.

When we got to Yellowstone we decided to go to the furthest northern section of the park, Mammoth Hot Springs. Neither Oliver nor I had been that far up in the park and it is where the original entrance to the park was built. We first toured Canary Hot Springs (part of the upper terraces) by stairs and boardwalk.

Again, there wasn't railing the entire way around - sometimes just boardwalk - so Addison was only able to get down at some of the lookout spots because she would have gone exploring right into the water.

After walking around Canary loop we headed down to the lower terrace area of Mammoth Hot Springs to walk up stairs, hills, and boardwalk. It is about 2 miles to do both loops but it is a sight to behold. The hot springs, unlike geysers, change dramatically and fairly quickly. Deposits can change shape and height by more than 12 inches per year. Yellowstone is constantly moving boardwalks and rebuilding stairways to accommodate the changes in the hot springs.

When the hot springs are active they are vibrant, colorful, and filled with boiling water. Then, in a matter of years, they go dormant and only their structure remains. There were many examples of active and inactive hot springs. Excavations in the park have shown hot springs in areas more than 100 miles away.

After touring the hot springs we drove into Gardiner, Montana to see about finding a place to spend the night. Gardiner is only 5 miles from Mammoth - unlike West Yellowstone which is 14 miles from the nearest "town" inside the park. We weren't happy with any of the hotel prices in Gardiner so we headed back into the park. Here is the original park entrance built for "For The Benefit and Enjoyment of the People".

We decided to stay in the cabins in Mammoth. Each cabin has two double beds, sheets, towels, a sink, and a porch that is shaded in the heat of the day. There are communal bathrooms (about 4 cabins to a bathroom). We checked into our cabin about 2 and Addison napped while Oliver and I read our books on the porch.

The drawback - well, we stayed in a cabin adjoined to another cabin and there is no insulation between the walls. About 10 pm some Asian people came back from their day in the park and stomped, yelled, slammed the door, talked, laughed, and generally went about making a raucous. They woke the baby! Needless to say it was a long night. I do feel they got what was coming to them when Addison woke at 6:30 crying and fussy and generally unhappy because she was still tired. We tried to pack up and get out quickly - but I'm not feeling the least bit sad if they heard every last noise she made that morning. If we were to stay there again we would try to get a cabin that isn't adjoined to another - but they were clean, we had plenty of towels, and the bathrooms were nice.

After Addison's nap and dinner at the local grill we went swimming at the best kept secret of Yellowstone: Boiling River Hot Springs. The springs are on the road between Mammoth and Gardiner and you have to hike about .5 miles to get to the swimming hole (all flat and totally easy). The swimming part is where the hot springs are running into Gardiner River. You can sit with against a waterfall of hot water easing the sore muscles of your back but still being in the cool river. It is the best of being in a hot tub but not overheating. It is also shallow with small pockets where tiny kids can wander and current it not strong. It is rocky and you'll want to wear water shoes in the river - but it is bliss.

After we got back from Boiling River I put Addison to bed and Oliver went driving to look for wildlife. He saw two male elk sparing right outside the car window - see you can see the glass of the passenger door in the picture below.

1 comment:

TysonandMarthaGerber said...

wow those are way cool picutes!