Saturday, June 12, 2021

Yellowstone National Park : Day 2 {A Lake and Stinky Sulfur}

Stoked to have you along for our Yellowstone Adventure. If you haven't read about our road trip from SoCal to Wyoming, check out the post HERE. Also, if you missed Day 1 in Yellowstone National Park, you can read all about it HERE

Now that everyone is caught up, let's keep this train chugging right along and get to Day 2. As I mentioned in Day 1's post, we split the trip into different geographical areas and next up is what we are going to call A Lake and Stinky Sulfur.

[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 2 of our Adventure in Yellowstone National Park {and the order we did it all}:

1. Hayden Valley

Many of the "must see valleys" are for wildlife viewing. Yellowstone isn't a zoo, meaning the animals are out in nature (duh!). They aren't on specific time tables, they don't come out on demand, etc. The valleys around the park are normally great places to sit and watch for animals... normally... but when you're dealing with MORE SNOW they seem to be hunkered down and not really out and about. We drove around but we didn't come across many critters so kept driving.

Starting another morning in the snow... Busted out my rain boots to try and help keep the feet dry.

Making the most of the weather Mother Nature sent our way (as you can tell, the snow was clumpy
and wet, stinking together... perfect snowpeople making snow, but not great for a fun boomerang ;))

2. Sulfur Cauldron

The Sulphur Caldron in Yellowstone National Park is one of the park’s most acid hot springs, with yellow and turbulent waters reminiscent of an evil witch’s brew (where it got its name). The Sulphur Caldron is almost as acidic as battery acid, but is a pool of life nonetheless. Bacteria live within the ultra-hot waters, creating the different colors you can see. 

I would assume normally the colors are a lot more pronounced... but with the gray day, it was all pretty drab.

Not only is it acidic, it's STINKY!

3. Mud Volcano

Similar to the Sulfur Cauldron, this loop smells of rotten eggs... It used to be a large mud dome, but in 1870 the mud volcano erupted - spewing mud into the treetops! Within two years it had become a pool of bubbling, muddy water.  

I wouldn't have wanted to be there when it erupted, but it would've been cool to see.

The bubbling mud was cooler (in my opinion) than the water filled pools, even if the color wasn't as vibrant. 

One of the really cool features here was Dragon's Mouth Spring. It was a hot spring that seemed to be coming out of a cave (making it appear as though the cave was smoking {or a dragon was breathing fire}). The weather was still less than amazing so the steam sort of mixed with the misty/ fog of the morning, but you can still get a sense of what it looked like.

We couldn't really hear it roar, but still awesome to see.

Breathing "fire"  

We walked around the loop and got in just under a mile. I'm not sure if you noticed the rain boots I was wearing, but I originally bought them on our coastal van tour (a three week road trip up and down the west coast from SoCal to the tip of Washington and back)... They were NOT made for the cold. Even with two pairs of socks, my feet were FROZEN! I had to do some power walking to get back to the car so I could yank off the boots, sit on my feet and try to rewarm them.

4. Fishing Bridge

Next up was Fishing Bridge. Funny enough, fishing isn't allowed near Fishing Bridge (although boatloads of fish flock to these waters and are a great sight from the bridge above). There is a museum and visitor center in this area, but they weren't open for the season yet, so we just walked along the Yellowstone River, over the bridge and back to the car.

Looks chilly, right?! No swimming in the river for us on this trip that's for sure!

5. Yellowstone Lake 

Normally you can take a boat tour (or even a guided fishing trip) on Yellowstone Lake, but obviously we were there in the wrong season for this. Yellowstone Lake is the largest high-elevation lake (above 7,000 feet) in North America. It is more than 400 feet deep in places and has 141 miles of shoreline. We all mentioned that Yellowstone Lake, in all of its vastness, reminded us of one of the Great Lakes. (#RealTalk - The hubby and I packed an inflatable stand-up paddleboard and would've loved to use it, but the weather made that impossible would've made it less than enjoyable!) 


6. Hike Storm Point

Since we had the hubby's dad and his wife with us, we tried to include some hikes that wouldn't be too gnarly so everyone could do them together. This hike was supposed to be just over two miles, fairly flat and along Yellowstone Lake. 

Like all of the hikes we did (or really anytime we were outside), we made sure to carry our bear spray with us. The first part of the trail is out in the open (as you can see in the picture above), but once you make it to the lake's edge, you are in the trees (which is awesome, but felt much more like bear habitat). We made sure to talk extremely loud, sing when we didn't have anything to say and just be loud (if you know the hubby, you know this isn't an issue ;)) The hike was great and we had it completely to ourselves. When we made it to the turnaround spot (a point overlooking the lake) there was a marmot in the rocks. The hubby had a photoshoot with him on his "real" camera (so I'll have to grab those pictures at a later date once he's gone through everything) and we just enjoyed the scenery, the day and the lack of snow (for the time being). Apparently the hike was supposed to be a loop, but we didn't realize so just did an out and back along the lake.

7. Hike West Thumb Geyser Basin

When we got out of the car we were greeted by elk. They had "fuzzy sticks" and could care less about the people around.

We had originally wanted to do the Scenic Lake Overlook hike, but when we started going down the trail we were stopped in our tracks with some LARGE "bear activity" warning signs. Although we might have been fine, I didn't feel super comfortable so asked if it'd be okay if we turned around and "just" went to the geysers instead. [Maybe it's just me, but it's one thing to "know" there are bears all around {I mean, it is where they live for goodness sake}, but it's another thing to have a sign warning about recent bear activity in the area.] Everyone agreed to turn back and check out the geysers.

Not sure if you noticed it, but there were still flurries in the air... 

The blue of the water was gorgeous!

I'm sure if the sun was shining you'd be able to see more vibrant colors, but it was still awesome nonetheless.

This area was special because it's right along the lake. There were different "features" along the loop. I had read about the Fishing Cone. In the past, folks could catch fish in the lake, reel them into the heat from the fishing cone which would cook the fish, and by the time they were to shore, they'd be ready to eat! How crazy and innovative and smart is that?!

Thermal activity right in the lake!

A. Continental Divide

Technically this was was going to be on our "Geyser" Day, but we drove by and figured we'd jump out to cross it off while we were there. This stop was just for the sign, since there wasn't much else there (especially, since as you will see in the photo, the snow was coming down heavily again and most folks didn't want to get back out in the weather). {In case you are like us and have forgotten what exactly the Continental Divide is [tell me I'm not the only one who would learn something simply for a test and then forget about it moments after class ended], this is the line in a continent where water from one side of the drainage divide flows to one ocean/ sea and water on the other side goes to a different ocean/ sea.}

Not sure if you noticed, but the picture caught a snowflake directly in front of my mouth!

Throughout the day we did stop at a few of the general stores. The hubby and I are always on the lookout for stickers for the AdventureMobile, for a cool magnet for our fridge and I love collecting patches/ pins for places we've visited. We aren't much for trinkets, but these small tokens from our trips are small ways to remind us of the amazing times we've had.

Most of the stores had the exact same thing inside them, but that didn't mean we wouldn't stop and check them out anyway.

The hubby thought we "needed" these hats... I vetoed that idea, but at least we snapped a pic ;)

When we got back to the campground, we did a little maxing and relaxing. The hubby and I actually also took our first showers of the trip (like I mentioned in the road trip post, we tend to dirtbag it on our camping adventures, but the hubby's dad's trailer had a shower in it and they offered to let us use it, so after about 5.5 days without one, we figured it was time to get clean ;)). Most of the campgrounds within the park do not have showers and it was way too chilly to use our outdoor one, so we were thankful to have the opportunity to do more than just a birdbath or baby wipe wipe-down ;) 


We wrapped up the evening playing SkipBo and euchre (IYKYK) inside the trailer because the snow that had been falling around the park turned to rain at the campground around dinnertime. Since we were normally leaving the campground by 7am, we also were hitting the hay around 9pm to prepare for the next day's adventures. We were thankful Mother Nature didn't put too much of a kink in our plans on Day 2 and were ready to tackle whatever Day 3 had in store! #LetsDoThis

Would you rather be trekking around in the snow or in the rain?

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