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Published: July 16th 2021
Deer & Manoli in Gardiner
We woke up around 6am again, and since we already knew there was no coffee available nearby, we headed towards Yellowstone. About 14 miles down the road, we found the expected gas station (Sinclair) and pulled in to get a couple of hot coffees. Manoli got a large coffee and I got a large Cappuccino.. for 1 buck! We continued on to Yellowstone, about 40 miles from our KOA, and entered Gardiner, Wyoming without even realizing we'd crossed the border. Gardiner is the typical tourist town you expect to find, with lots of restaurants and such, and surprisingly a group of deer grazing right on the main street. When we spotted them, we had to pull in to get out and look, along with photos of course. There were 3 large deer (I believe 2 does and one buck), along with 2 fawns. The were so unafraid that we were able to get within 10 feet of them and take a number of photos.
The North entrance to Yellowstone used to be the Roosevelt Arch, which is still there, but no longer used. This entrance is right at the end of Gardiner. I showed my Military Pass and ID to
Closeup of Roosevelt Arch, the original entrance to Yellowstone
the Ranger and we quickly passed through. We planned on seeing geysers, hot springs and the Grand Canyon today, leaving the lake and Old Faithful for tomorrow. We slowly passed through the Mammoth Hot Springs lodging area, which has numerous lodging options and a lot of folks milling around, and after a couple of no-gos finding a parking spot, we turned around and went back, finding one near the beginning. Manoli had to use the restroom and on her way back she encountered two elks dancing or fighting right between two buildings. Check out the photo! Mammoth Hot Springs is really just a lot of ... well, hot springs, with some very cool, very colorful terraces. Terraces look like they sound, comprised of multiple layers of different colored sediment dropped by the hot water as it flows. After a good long walk around pretty much the whole place, we got back in our car and headed towards the Norris Geyser Basin.
Norris Geyser Basin has a large number of active geysers, including the world's largest geyser, Steamboat Geyser. Mammoth Hot Springs had been a bit busy and crowded, with limited parking, but as we approached the turn for Norris
First view of Mammoth Hot Springs
Geyser Basin, things got a lot worse. There were signs on most sides of the intersection informing us the you could park there as overflow parking. Cars were turning into Norris Basin, so we went for it. We moved very slowly for a while and were starting to think we'd have to park back out on the road, when a guy motioned us to wait, got in his car and pulled out, leaving us a nice spot not far from the entrance. Right near the museum/entrance, there was a large cloud of steam, so we went to check it out first. It turned out to be Ledge Geyser, and although it didn't seem to be erupting, it sure was putting out a lot of steam. You could feel it in the air, 20 feet away. We continued to walk the rather large loop, enjoying numerous small geysers, bubbling springs and colorful pools. After the large loop, which ended where we started, we walked the trail to Steamboat Geyser, the largest in the world. Unfortunately, it was unpredictable, having last erupted July 7th, and 28 days before that, etc. It was pretty cool, but it would have been awesome to see
Liberty Cap at Mammoth Hot Springs
We left Norris Geyser Basin and headed towards Canyon Village where we planned on eating lunch before driving the Canyon Rim drive to see the waterfalls and awesome Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. We quickly pulled into the first empty parking spot we found and headed to the "restaurant" for lunch. There were two sides to the dining room, one serving "fast food" such as Bison burgers, and the other served woks. We opted for the wok, partly because we figured it would be more interesting, and partly because the line was much shorter. I ordered garlic noodles, broth, broccoli and edamame, and seasoned chicken. It was quite good! Manoli ordered the rice, broccoli and edamame, and sliced steak. She said it was the worse meal she remembered, mostly because the steak was so tough she couldn't chew it.
After lunch, we browsed the general store, where Manoli picked up a cute mug with Alexis on it, for our granddaughter. We then headed to the Canyon Rim drive, a one-way drive with a lot of overlooks and awesome views of Yellowstone's Grand Canyon and lower falls. The views were truly awesome, but we had to climb down,
One of the awesome terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs
and back up, a lot of times, a lot of stairs and steep inclines. Very tiring, especially for this old man. One of the trails we took was waaaay down, and even though it provided awesome views of the falls, the climb back up took a lot of time, energy, and rest stops. We finished the loop and decided since it was already after 3pm, that we would head back to our KOA and see the last of the Yellowstone sights tomorrow. We stopped at a gas station in Gardiner so Manoli could get a fresh cup of coffee, then the grocery store for some Dr. Pepper and our dinners. Manoli got a salad bag which she seemed like, and I picked out a hot dinner plate of BBQ ribs with baked beans and scalloped potatoes. The beans and potatoes were pretty good, but the ribs were tasty but rather tough. We returned to our KOA about 6pm, did our ritual and dropped off to sleep.
Tomorrow, our last day here, we plan on visiting Old Faithful and Yellowstone Lake.
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