Published: October 12th 2010October 11th 2010
Monday 4th October
San Fran to Reno = 220 miles. California into Nevada State.
Reno to Salt Lake = 520 miles. Nevada into Utah State.
Went for breakfast at Denny's in Reno & both had a grand slam breakfast then hit the road. The first few hours were quite average freeway driving.
We passed a sign on the road which said "You are now entering Mountain time", we wondered if this was a time line but hopefully we'll find out later on.
We arrived at the salt lake plains which were absolutely breathtaking. It is easy to understand why they hold the world record land speed records here because not only is it flat but the salt plains can be seen for miles in all directions.
Half an hour into driving the salt plains we stopped at a viewpoint & took some photos and a well needed stretch of the legs.
Not long now before we arrive at Salt Lake city & we are glad as it is starting to get dark.
It's a shame we didn't get to see much of Salt Lake City as our hotel was on the north side of the city
& I was too tired to do a drive into the city. We stayed at another Motel 6 which was fine, cheap & comfortable. We realised now the mountain time meant we gained a hour. We spent a couple of hours planning our Yellowstone visit as we will be arriving there tomorrow afternoon and there is lots to do. Cant wait!
We are only 330 miles away from Yellowstone now so need an early start in order to get there for lunchtime.
Tuesday 5th October
Salt lake to Yellowstone National park (Mammoth Springs). 327 miles. Utah through Idaho into Wyoming.
Another early start, another Dennys breakfast!!
We drove from Utah into Idaho & the scenery was spectactular to say the least.
2 hours into our journey we passed a police car at the side of the road who in return gave us a funny look. It wasn't long until said Idaho police car was now along side us on the highway having a good look at our frightened little faces!!
Low & behold he pulled in behind us & on went the lights flashing like a scene out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind!!! So
as you can imagine we had to pull over wondering if we were being busted for doing 3mph over the speed limit...
By the time we had stopped Jill had my drivers license out & we waited for the lone policeman to arrive at my window. Cautiously he appeared with one hand on his gun asked straight away if i owned the car. He asked if we had any guns, knives or anything we shouldn't have in the car. Then he asked if we were terrorists...!? We laughed and he smiled and once he did the formalities of i.d and license we had a wee chat about where we had been and where we were going and it was all cool and sort of half light hearted. He wished us well and we took off and put it down to an experience we hopefully don't have to go through again...touch wood!
It's not long before pass Idaho Falls, leave Idaho state & enter Wyoming, home of Yellowstone National Park. 3,472 sq miles.
We are now headed for the West enterance of Yellowstone & no sooner had we paid $25 to enter the park we saw our first hot
spring called Terrace spring. We pulled over for a few photos then continued throught the beautiful scenery and winding roads!
The park is absolutely outstanding with lovely river on one side of the road & lush forest on the other side & with the low speed limit meant we could take it all in whilst feeling relaxed and looking forward to our next stop.
It wasn't long before we drove up to the Norris basin.
The oldest & hottest of Yellowstone's active hydrothermal areas, Norris geyser basin, sits at the intersection of 3 major faults. Steamboat geyser is the tallest active geyser in the world - when it erupts it can blast hot water 300 to 400 feet into the air. After a 20 min photo stop we drive onward to Mammoth Hot springs where we are staying the night at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. However we were curious when the car n front of us stopped on the road for no reason and then we seen why as in the field next to the road there were three large Bison's just meandering along without a care in the world so we pulled into the layby. To
our surprise they bison's turned around and followed us in and walked right by about 5 meters away. The biggest one had a right good stare at us and turned his head and carried on with his two mates up the road away from us oblivious to the fact there were cars on the road. They are slow and cumbersome looking but apparently then can charge at you at up to 30mph if threatened and to have 500lb of beef coming at you at that speed you would not want to be in the line of sight!! Angus the bull hasn't got a look in with these guys...
As we drive into the Mammoth Hot springs area we see to our left the hot springs.
The hydrothermal features in this area are very different to the rest of the park. Underlying this area is limestone. When thermal waters rise up through the cracks in the rock, they pick up dissolved calcium carbonate. The carbonate is deposited as travertine, resulting in the famous chalky white terraces of Mammoth. The most famous feature at the springs is the Minerva Terrace, a series of travertine terraces. This area has been thermally active
for several thousand years.
Mammoth is a large hill of travertine that has been created over thousands of years as hot water from the spring cooled and deposited calcium carbonate. Although the terraces began forming thousands of years ago, they change daily as new travertine is deposited. Getting out of the car we wander around the wooden trails that were easily marked out for us and its about a half mile looped walkway.
At the beginning of the trail we noticed a large cone shaped rock which we found out was a dormant spring that had formed the shape over thousands of years.
Terrace Mountain at Mammoth Hot Springs is the largest known carbonate-depositing spring in the world. We looked at the Minerva Terrace which was mindblowing and then we walked all the way round the site taking photo's and reading information. The Mammoth Terraces extend all the way from the hillside, across the Parade Ground, and down to Boiling River.
Every so often we heard a kind of half moo of a cow combined with a roar of a lion.....that will be the elks!!!
There's lots of them in this area and they freely walk around the
streets and gardens and are protected by wardens who keep tourists at a safe distance as the elks are grumpy buggers at this time of year and wont think twice at charging you!!
Off to Mammoth springs hotel yards down the road as its now starting to get too dark and also bitterly cold.
We checked in at reception and the hotel is quite old and old fashioned. Just think of the hotel out of 'The Shining' and you'll have the perfect image of the interior. Jill and I constantly peeped through the gaps in the doors screaming 'heeeere's johnnnnny!' I may add here that we only did this in our own room as it was too scary out in the hallways!!
No t.v in the room meant we read our new book's which was a great way to wind down for the night. Excuse the pun but we have a 'Mammoth' day tomorrow!!
There are more photos below