Friday, September 14, 2012

Yellowstone Road Trip - Day 16

“There is a great moment, when you see, however distant – the goal of your wandering. The thing which has been living in your imagination suddenly becomes a part of the tangible world.”  ~Freda Stark

We went on a bus tour of the Upper Loop in Yellowstone National Park today with the Buffalo Bus Touring Company. It was nice to be able to just concentrate on the landscape features and the animals in the park. And it was very educational since Brad, our guide, was really knowledgeable (He's been a guide for 12 years).

The photos from today will be the main feature of today's blog since we had such a full day and the photos are the best way to show you some of the park's magnificent features and wildlife.

Our guide called it a two-dog day because we got to see a wolf and a coyote. If we had also seen a fox it would have been a three-dog day. It was a very large black wolf and so exciting to see since it is quite unusual to spot them. The coyote was in hunting mode which was quite fun to watch. He was really focused on his prey. Just like Fannie Mae when she's preparing to pounce on a toy.

There is just so much to see and many areas where we stopped were places at which you could spend hours and hours, especially if you went on some of the hikes further off the main roads. For example, Mammoth Hot Springs has what are called terraces. They are like living sculptures, shaped by the volume of water, the slope of the ground and objects in the water's path and colored by algae, bacteria and other micro-organisms. They change constantly, sometimes overnight, but the overall activity of the entire area and the volume of water discharge remain relatively constant. Because of wonderful boardwalk trails, extending onto several levels it is possible to view the structures from many angles. Underneath the ground in this area is a network of fractures and fissures that form the plumbing system that allows hot water from underground to reach the surface.

In 1988 more than 1/3 of the park burned so even though there has been lots of new growth there is still evidence of the fire because the burned trees standing and fallen have been left to naturally decay and put nutrients back into the soil – sort of like long-term composting! Many of the trees burned were lodgepole pines. The forests are naturally re-seeding themselves.

We got lots of history lessons about the ebbs and flows of various animal populations. For example, at one time the buffalo population was down to less than 100 so the park put them all in an enclosed area, brought in breeding stock to mix and revitalize the buffalo and was able to raise the population up to over 1000.

There are 114 images in today's photo gallery. Hope you enjoy them all. You can view the photo gallery by clicking here.

Here is some video that John shot during our tour of the Upper Loop.

Fannie Mae did great with Heather, her sitter. We were glad to get back to The Pony Express and get a good report on Fannie.

We went to dinner at a place one of our bus mates recommended – The Bar N Ranch. It is a lodge, ranch and restaurant on a 200 acre spread about 7 miles west of West Yellowstone, Montana. We both had buffalo and elk burgers. No wild taste at all. John couldn't tell it from beef.

Tomorrow we will go on a tour of the south loop of the park.
Nitey night – happy trails!


  1. I'm taking advantage of your tour and photos. I drove all the way to Twin Falls today, so I will get to Yellowstone a day early (tomorrow). Are you going directly home when you leave YS, or do you have another destination? Susan

  2. Nope, we're here tomorrow and leaving the morning of 9/18 for Arco, ID. We'll be stopping at Craters of the Moon National Monument, Yosemite and Columbia Historic State Park on the way home. Don't know where you're staying, but we're in West Yellowstone. If you're going to be in the area tomorrow evening (9/17) call us at 408 782-4756 and maybe we can meet up and we'll treat you to a glass of wine!