Denise Goldberg's blog

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Yellowstone morning

In spite of being up and out early it was after noon before I headed to the south to today's destination of Jackson.

My first stop today was a bit backwards from a direction standpoint, north just a bit to visit the Midway Geyser Basin once more. I thought I'd see if the light was different this morning. Old Faithful's eruption this morning was quite visible; I'm not sure if that was true of the rest of the upper geyser basin. As I pulled out of the Old Faithful area and turned north the fog descended. My lights were on, my speed lower than the posted 45 miles per hour. Luckily my destination was just 5 miles away. If yesterday morning had been like today I'd bet my wander for the day would have been very different!

I was hoping for a glimpse of the color of the Grand Prismatic Spring. That didn't happen - fog covered the entire geyser basin. Occasionally I saw a glimpse of color. My favorite was the bright rusty line standing out from white on the slope down to the river. Even with the fog it stood out, beautiful.

Turning south, I passed Old Faithful. The road tilted up, crossing the continental divide three times between Old Faithful and West Thumb. Jackson wasn't calling to me yet, too early...

I visited the West Thumb Geyser Basin again. The two visits were at different times of day, one late, one early. It was worth a second visit, and it was early enough that there weren't tons of people walking the boardwalks. This geyser basin is on the edge of the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake. Lakeshore Glacier is actually underwater in the spring and early summer. Today the outlet was visible (on the edge of the lake). It wasn't active when I was there though.

I continued north for a bit, following the edge of Yellowstone Lake then following the road through the woods for a bit. I stopped in Lake Village where a chipmunk agreed to pose for a photo. Oh, not really - when he figured out I was there he decided it was time to move on!

Lake Village was the northernmost point of today's wander. I headed south, stopping several times as narrow spits of land cutting the water caught my eye. Did you know that Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake at high elevation in North America? From the Yellowstone National Park Lake area highlights page:

With a surface area of 132 square miles, Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake at high elevation (i.e., more than 7,000 ft.) in North America. It is a natural lake, situated at 7,733 ft. above sea level. It is roughly 20 miles long and 14 miles wide with 141 miles of shoreline. It is frozen nearly half the year. It freezes in late December or early January and thaws in late May or early June.

I made one more stop in Yellowstone, at Lewis Falls. It wasn't the falls that pulled me in - my eye was drawn to the Lewis River winding its way through bright green grass decorated with patches of yellow.

Heading south, I passed through the southern entrance to Yellowstone, soon entering Grand Teton National Park. At first I was surprised there was no (park) entrance station, but then I realized it made perfect sense. The same entrance fee covers both parks, and there is no way to enter Grand Teton on Route 89 without coming from Yellowstone and paying a fee there. I don't need to worry about it anyway since I have an annual parks pass. I think I'm getting my money's worth this year! So far I've visited Joshua Tree, Acadia, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton. I'm planning to visit Rocky Mountain National Park next month, and I'll b returning to Acadia too. Oh, and maybe somewhere else later in the year!

I stopped a few times as I drove through Grand Teton heading for my home for the night, for lake views, and for a stare at the mountains. The peaks of the Teton Mountains are just amazing.

Tomorrow starts my Grand Teton wanders.