Thursday, June 17, 2021

Yellowstone National Park : Day 4 {Valleys and Canyons}

Hopefully you're loving the recaps of our different days/ adventures in Yellowstone National Park. If you haven't read about our road trip to Wyoming, check it out HERE. And if you missed Day 1, 2 or 3 in YNP, read them HERE, HERE and HERE.

Welcome back to everyone who had to step away and catch up on the previous posts ;) Now that everyone's on the same page we can get on with Day 4. As I mentioned in Day 1's post, we split the trip into different geographical areas and tackled them in separate days. Next up is what we are going to call Valleys and Canyons {Note: Originally this was going to be Day 3's schedule, but we swapped it when we saw a break in the snow and wanted better weather for our geyser day. Also, some of the stops were repeats from earlier in the trip [changes are notated in LETTERS as opposed to the original itinerary which is NUMBERED] but we were hoping for better weather/ visibility a second go-around.}.

[Note - We were camping in Madison Campground, so the order in which we did everything was due to where we were coming from. If you are staying elsewhere, you might want to look at changing what you start/ finish with.]

Here's a list of everything we did/ saw on Day 4 of our Adventure in Yellowstone National Park {and the order we did it all}:

1. Roaring Mountain

We stopped Day 1 because we were in the area (and didn't have many options due to closed roads), but it was originally here on the schedule. Seeing as the mountain no longer really "roars" we didn't think we needed to stop a second time.

At least we didn't have snow falling on us when we drove by on Day 4!

A. Sheepeater Cliff

#RealTalk - We didn't have this on the list and originally stopped here because someone needed to use the restroom and we were hoping there'd be a bathroom (thankfully there was). The rock formations reminded the hubby and I of the Devils Postpile National Monument. Pretty awesome and unique basalt columns especially since the detour didn't take long. 

It was like a smaller version of Devils Postpile in Mammoth, CA.

B. Petrified Tree

A petrified tree may not seem super impressive (a tree turned to stone), so isn't a top priority (in fact, it didn't even make the original itinerary), but still pretty fascinating. Pretty crazy that it's thought to be a sibling of the California Redwoods!

They had to put up a fence because people were breaking off pieces of the 
petrified tree and stealing/ destroying it. #ThisIsWhyWeCantHaveNiceThings

C. Lamar Valley

Originally this was on Day 1 of our trip, but if you remember the drama Mother Nature sent our way we had to move it. 


Like I had mentioned, the valleys in Yellowstone are a great place to view wildlife. There are plenty of safe places where you can pull off and just hang out to watch for animals. I would say that what we normally did was notice where there were already a handful of vehicles, stop and chat with people outside to see what they were looking at/ waiting for/ etc. 


Wildlife is, well, WILD. The animals aren't on your timetable or scheduled to be in specific places at certain times (I know this might seem obvious, but just something worth mentioning). This means the viewing takes a little luck of being in the right place at the right time, a little patience and a little knowledge of the animals tendencies (thankfully there were some tour guides/ photography experts in the areas we stopped who were willing to give us helpful tips they were privy to). 

Even before we got to Lamar Valley we had a black bear cross the road in front of us on the drive there.

While we were hanging out in the Lamar Valley area we were able to watch a mama grizzly and her two cubs come down a hill, cross the road and forge the river. Obviously my pictures and video aren't the best quality (you should stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves), but you still get the idea. It was so awesome to see them in their natural habitat. I could have hung out and watched them all day (had they not wandered further away from where we had posted up). 

If seeing this baby grizzly bear on his hind legs isn't the cutest I don't know what is!

We also came upon an interesting trio - an injured coyote, a raven hopping about and a badger digging in the dirt. Tell me I'm not the only one who comes up with stories about what the animals are doing and who they are to each other. 

Ok, so this OBVIOUSLY isn't a picture of the trio, it's a bison, but the motley crew didn't want to
have their picture taken (by my less-than-stellar iPhone camera), so it'll just be a "mind photo"... 

At another point we saw a few pronghorns and stopped to watch them. A few moments later we saw them chasing a coyote. We aren't sure if they had babies nearby or they just didn't like the coyote in their area, but still cool to see.

Maybe it's a blogger fail, maybe it's a lack of a telephoto zoom, maybe 
it's just being in the moment, but I didn't get a ton of pictures of the wildlife.

You can spend as much (or as little) time in the valleys as you'd like. I'm sure the professional photographers spend hours just trying to get that perfect shot. We hung out a decent amount of time driving to different turnoffs before calling it a day. Word on the street is dawn and dusk are the best times, but I'm sure it depends on the day, the weather, the season, etc. 

D. Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Again, if you read about Day 1 you may remember that we went to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone but I had put it on my list of "let's return if the visibility clears up" because we weren't able to see it in all its glory. Now I wouldn't say it was sunny, gorgeous and colorful, but at least we were able to see more of the canyon features on our return visit.

The view of Lower Falls from Lookout Point.

We had to at least get one picture of us together, even if it is more about the scenery than us ;)

The lookouts at Grand View really were GRAND!

I can only imagine the colors poppin' when the sun was out!

Who knew there was more than one Grand Canyon?!

I bet you can understand why they called this Inspiration Point!

2. Museum of National Park Ranger

Similar to a lot of the visitor centers around the park, this was still closed for the "winter". The hubby really wanted to check this one out too (he may have a not-so-secret dream of becoming a backcountry park ranger when he grows up ;)).

3. Norris Geyser Basin

After what felt like our fair share of geysers, I'll be honest that it felt like we were a bit burnt out and we weren't really as excited about stopping by this basin, especially after four days of exploring, but we put our happy pants on and did it. 

Let's do this thang!

The Norris Geyser Basin sits at the junction of three fault lines and is the hottest area in Yellowstone. It also contains the Steamboat Geyser, which is the world's tallest active geyser (reaching heights of 300 feet when erupting). One of the signs joked and mentioned it was Old UNfaithful because it was not consistent or predictable. We waited around for a bit, but only saw some steam escaping so walked around the other loops to check out more of the thermal activity.

It sort of felt like you were on a different planet!

PS There are signs in this parking lot warning about the mist from this geyser. Apparently the dissolved minerals in the spray can damage glass and paint on your vehicle. You can see how all of the trees around the geyser appear dead. The hubby and I were chatting about how maybe it's a good thing that it can be upwards of 50 years between major eruptions.

The trees were all a dead white color that you didn't really notice till you saw the LIVE trees further away.

We walked along the boardwalk, checked out the different thermal activity, snapped a few pics and decided to pack it in.

Always playing with those panoramic photos!

I'm sure I sound very blasé about the basin, and I don't mean it to come across that way, but I think we might have all hit our geyser limit and were ready to wrap up the Yellowstone portion of our trip and move along to the next adventure.

It's hard to tell the difference between the steam and clouds, but you get a sense of the thermal activity in the area.

You might not be able to tell in the photo, but this looked like coral. You could totally imagine it being under water!

Still not very bright, but the different colors were still awesome to see.

E. Artist Paintpots

Before the trip, we sent the tentative itinerary to the hubby's dad to make sure everything they wanted to see was on the list. They had heard this was a spot worth stopping at, so I added it. The weather had started to turn and they weren't as excited to check it out, but the hubby and I walked around the loop. With it being grey and gloomy, the paintpots weren't very vibrant, but the bubbling mudpots were my favorite part (the mud makes it easier to see the movement in the pools). 

Think of it sort of like an artist's paint palette with the different pools as different paint holders ;)

The bubbling mud was my favorite part.

4. Gibbons Falls

This 80 foot tall falls is easily viewed from the road. We had driven by it multiple times a day but it wasn't on the list for those days so we always joked about having to wait to stop. There's not much to do at the falls but enjoy the beauty and take a few photos (which is exactly what we did - DUH!). The hubby and I walked down the side of the road (don't worry, the sidewalk is separated from the road), but I think the lookout closest to the parking lot had the best view. 

The first lookout had you right next to the brink of the falls.

Further down the road you got a wider perspective of the falls.

And with that we wrapped up four full days at the country's first and oldest national park, Yellowstone National Park. It was definitely an experience and one I hope to remember for many years to come (but, just in case my fibro fog threatens to wipe out my memories, at least I'll have these posts ;)). The weather totally threw us a curveball, but I would have much rather had to deal with snow and cold than the hoards of people that flock to the park in the summer months. 

Have you ever been to Yellowstone National Park?

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