Posts tagged: elk

Walking Around A Volcano

By , May 28, 2010 4:19 pm

West Yellowstone, MT and Yellowstone National Park, WY

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We arrived in West Yellowstone, Montana about a week ago and got the RV set up while waiting for friends from Virginia to join us.  The first day was a nice chance for Dasy and I to run around West Yellowstone and do some basic exploring before hitting Yellowstone itself.  To make it less confusing, let me define West Yellowstone and Yellowstone.

West Yellowstone is the town in Montana that is just outside of Yellowstone National Park.  It’s one of the closest areas you can stay in outside the park.  It’s located in Gallatin National Forest and serves as the “gateway” to the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park.  We’re staying at Wagon Wheel RV park while we’re here.

Yellowstone National Park is located mostly in Wyoming, although small parts of it are also in Montana and Idaho.  I’ll refer to Yellowstone National Park as YNP from here on.

IMG_0706West Yellowstone is a neat little frontier town.  It’s not hard to imagine someone pulling up with a wagon full of skins at a traders store.  There are even bison wandering around!

The next morning, our friends (Rob and Lara) and us headed into YNP itself.  There were a number of road closures, due both to weather and bear activity.  We were in the park a little before the prime tourist season and it was still quite cold and weather was somewhat unpredictable (most people would definitely describe it as winter).

IMG_0710We saw a number of wild animals in the park, which for some reason generally makes us happier than scenery.  One of the first we spotted was a pair of golden eagles nesting near the road.  We stopped briefly and watched from a distance and took a few pictures.  There was a 1/4 mile “quarantine” zone that people weren’t supposed to stop in, so we were still a fair distance away.

We were also lucky enough to spot a wolf, presumably looking for food, near the Gibbon River.  Unfortunately, my camera lens appears to be getting worse and I only got one shot that was anywhere close to being in focus.  I think the sand in Moab did a number on the lens and it doesn’t like to focus any more.  I’ll clean it and see how it does over the next week or so.IMG_0725

One of the notable things that happened would turn out to be a recurring theme.  Even though it wasn’t really tourist season yet, we’d have to deal with traffic jams in the park.  But, unlike most traffic jams, these were usually caused by bison. 😉

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We also were lucky enough to spot some elk when we stopped for lunch at Mammoth Hot Springs in the park.  It would turn out that the bison and elk were pretty common and were generally found all over the place, but it was nice that we spotted some on the first day in the park.

IMG_0826After lunch, we checked out the springs and then headed back out for West Yellowstone.

It’s really easy to forget that Yellowstone is the largest active volcanic system in the world.  It’s such a beautiful place and really good example of how big this country is.  But then, you find some geologic feature that’s spouting steam and smells like sulfur and it sinks in a bit…

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…we’re walking on a volcano… a really BIG one! 

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