YELLOWSTONE and TETON NATIONAL PARK
Yellowstone National Park
Enroute to Yellowstone National Park we decided to take the scenic byway described as one of the most beautiful roads in the USA. (We seem to have heard this before in other places) As we started to climb Beartooth Pass the weather closed in and before we knew it, we were driving in Rain, Wet Snow, and the Visibility became zero.
We did notice the many glacier lakes waterfalls, but never the 20 peaks that reach skyward over 4000 meters. The road became narrow and while driving in the clouds, rain and wet snow, negotiating many hairpins turns, it became a slow going and a real shame as we never had a great view of the surrounding terrain, hence we decided to call it a day and parked on the other side of the mountain.
After a miserable windy and rainy night, we woke up to a calm cold morning, ready to enter Yellowstone National Park in the remote Northeast corner of the park.
World-famous Yellowstone, established in 1872, is the oldest national park in the United States and one of the most popular. In 1978, Yellowstone was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Park is in the northwest corner of Wyoming and spills into neighbouring Idaho and Montana. Yellowstone National Park is 8990 sq kilometres, famous for its geysers. It’s home to the world’s largest number of active geysers. The scenery ranges from snaking rivers and sweeping green valleys, to vast lakes, canyons, thundering waterfalls, and hissing lunar-like landscapes.
We explored Yellowstone National Park by driving around in a figure-eight past the park’s most known natural features staying overnight inside the park at Grant Village. The campground is located on Yellowstone Lake which is one of the largest high elevation lakes in North America. It is disappointing when you sit outside enjoying the bush, the view and wildlife and your neighbour turns up switches on his generator closes the door and moves inside. Listening to your neighbours Generator 3 meters away (10 ft) is in my book very inconsiderate? BUT it is their country, the best we could do is leave and find a nice spot in the bush just outside the park.
Since June 1 this was the first time we stayed in a paid RV park (40USD or 73.00AUD per night and no facilities and sites not even made level. PFFFFFFF) what a RIP OFF.
Our first stop in Yellowstone National Park was in the magnificent Lamar Valley, a prime area for viewing wildlife such as large herds of bison, bald eagles, and badgers, as well as coyotes, wolves, and grizzly bears hunting on the open grasslands. From here we travelled East to West towards Mammoth Hot Springs, amazing thermal springs that deposit travertine. From here we travelled south stopping at the many viewpoints and road site thermal pools.
A must do stop is at the midway Geyser Basin, it has two of Yellowstone’s biggest geothermal features. The crater of the excelsior Geyser which let 200 Liters of hot water per second in the Firehole River. The next feature is the 100-meter-wide Grand Prismatic Spring one of the finest and biggest hot springs in the park. Its colours are amazing. From here the park (central area) gets very busy and traffic is stop start.
One of the star attractions of Yellowstone National Park is the geyser known as Old Faithful. Named this way for the regularity with which it erupts, shooting columns of water high up into the air. The eruptions vary between 35 and 120 minutes but on average 90 minutes. Due to traffic and the large amount of tourist we decided to arrive late afternoon when most tourist have left.
Old Faithful is not the Yellowstone’s largest geyser; however, it does erupt more frequently than other large geysers in the park. The eruptions usually last from one-and-a-half minutes to five minutes and reach heights of between 30 and 60 meters.
Black Sand Basin lies about 1 kilometre from the Old Faithful geyser, and it has the reputation for being one of the most colourful spots in Yellowstone.
The Norris Geyser Basin is famous for being the hottest, and most active of the hydrothermal areas in Yellowstone. Porcelain Basin is a bleak and treeless lunar-like setting steeped in the pungent aroma of the bubbling geysers. The other is the Steamboat Geyser the tallest active geyser in the world, which erupts irregularly, shooting water up to a height of 300 feet.
On our way to the Yellowstone Grand Canyon, we crossed Hayden Valley. It is the prime spot for wildlife viewing.
from Yellowstone Lake, the Yellowstone River flows via the Hayden Valley before it forms two spectacular waterfalls as it plunges into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Not sure if I agree with the Yellowstone marketing Guru’s about the statement, it resembles Arizona’s Grand Canyon, but the 35-kilometre-long canyon is impressive. The Upper waterfall plummets 35 meters down and the next water fall just a 100meters further plunges around 100 meters down.
We decided to bush camp just outside West Yellowstone Village, I can’t justify 40USD for a site without any facilities and not even made level. As a matter of interest, the Grant Village also showed full but was not even 50% occupied during our stay.
West Yellowstone is a town in southern Montana. In town, the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center offers the chance to get close to bears and wolves. Housed in an old train depot, Yellowstone Historic Center traces local history and transportation. We were surprised to see so many European and Chinese visitors in town and some shopkeepers told us that more than 50% of its annual business is from European and Chinese tourist. (We even saw signs in Mandarin and German) It is very touristy and not our cup of tea hence we camped out of town in the bush.
The following day we re-entered Yellowstone Nat Park to explore the southern part of the park and Lake Lewis. On our way to Teton National Park, we left Yellowstone National Park via the John D Rockefeller Parkway. This offered spectacular mountain scenery.
TETON NATIONAL PARK
This Wyoming park is what we remember from the movies taken in the American West. Teton National Park is very small compared to the size of nearby Yellowstone National Park. But except from Bisons and a few Elk we saw little wildlife.
We found an amazing bush camp with a great view of the Teton Range. The sunrise from our bush camp was amazing with clouds below us in the valley. Someone stated this are mountains of the imagination. The major peaks of the Teton Range are just 64 kilometres long. Grand Teton the highest peak at 4199 meters. Jenny Lake is the centre piece of the park. It is possible to take a boat ride on the lake but due to the many tourists around we decided against it.
Once we left our campsite, we followed the loop which has some amazing viewpoints along the way. Unfortunately, Signal Hill was closed (overlooking Jackson Valley) The Moose Wilson Road was also closed. But we were told this road was not allowed for RV’s, due to its narrow and winding character coupled with its alignment between a steep hillside, wetlands, and thick vegetation cover. However, we could have taken our motorbike instead if the road would be open.
Jackson Hole is a town in Wyoming’s Jackson Hole valley, home to 3 ski areas: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee Resort. By far too touristy for us we left town without getting out of the car.
Despite being told the park is teeming with wildlife including the grey wolf, American Black Bear, Coyote, Lynx, Grizzly Bears we only saw a few Bisons and a couple of snakes. Never saw any Elk and we wonder if this is due as hunting of Elk is allowed. Official reason is to keep the population of Elk under control. Hunting is restricted to areas east of the Snake River, and north of Moran.
To summarize, Teton National Park is small, but its scenery and bush camping locations are amazing.This entry was posted in Latest Update