Saturday, October 29, 2011
Yellowstone National Park
On our way to Michigan this summer, we went through Wyoming. We dropped down from Interstate 90 to the town of West Yellowstone, just outside the national park, and from there drove in Yellowstone National Park, spending most of day there exploring the west side of the upper loop (for those who have never been to Yellowstone, the main road through the park is a huge figure eight).
On our way into the park, we found that there was road work being done and long delays (as much as five hours, though we were only delayed a couple of hours). Though at first we found this frustrating, we soon discovered that the stops were long enough that we could get out of the car and do some exploring along the road which there follows the Madison River.
At one of the stops we found a native orchid, the Hooded Ladies' Tresses (Spiranthes romanzoffiana), growing right on the edge of the river and in the same area found the saprophytic plant, Pine Drops (Pterosphora andromeda). In trying to get good pictures of these I nearly got left behind since traffic started moving and my wife had to move the car.
Once into the park proper we stopped at a number of locations on the west side of the upper loop. One of the first was the Fountain Paint Pots where we found the Hooded Ladies Tresses once again ( we would find it at several more locations before the day was over). There was also found the Fringed Gentian (Gentiana crinita), one of our favorite wildflowers, growing by the thousands in wetter areas.
Along the road we stopped at Nymph Lake, Roaring Mountain and Gibbon Falls, taking time at each location to get good photos. In fact, we spent considerable time at Gibbon Falls so that I could take time exposures of the falls and so that I could teach my wife to take them also. She, however, had forgotten her DSLR and had to be satisfied with using a point-and-shoot camera that we picked up in Idaho.
At the north end of the park we spent the rest of the day exploring the Mammoth Hot Springs area, driving the side roads and hiking the boardwalks. The day was alternately sunny and cloudy and we were able to get some good pictures. Near Canary Spring we saw and photographed a Killdeer who was looking for insects in the hot water at the top of the terraces.
As the sun went down we drove back to Norris Geyser Basin, hiked briefly there, and then drove across the middle of the park, down the east side of the lower loop and out of the park to place where we could set up our van for sleeping the night. One the way out we saw elk, bison and grizzly bear sow with her cub, all near the road. The pictures were poor, however, because of the low light.