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Published: June 25th 2017
Geo: 44.4887, -110.012
Great day at Yellowstone National Park. We left the hotel this morning at 9 AM and 62 degrees and headed west. Cody, WY is about 50 miles outside the east gate to the park. There is literally next to nothing for accommodations between Cody and the park, save a couple of small lodges. So we are making this trek in and out each day.
The drive to the park is probably the most visually interesting thing we saw today. OMG. The road weaves through Buffalo Bill State Park as it follows the Shoshone River, and what an impressive piece of real estate it is. After passing through 3 tunnels, we were on the shores of the Buffalo Bill Reservoir, a large lake created by a dam on the Shoshone River. Buffalo Bill Cody, the namesake of the town in which we are staying, once owned all of the land that is now the state park. The reservoir is a beautiful blue lake surrounded by yellow grass and silver green sage and spires of craggy rock bursting from the earth in shapes only nature could create over thousands of years. Golden hills of swirling yellow grass rise and give birth
to these angular gray structures, where you can see what looks like faces in the stone, as if they were chiseled by hand, topped by statues of rough stone reaching for the sky. Further up the road the stone turns to a mellow brown, made of horizontal grooves, whose edges have been softened by the years, and are now adorned by yellow and white daisies growing all along the roadside. So beautiful. And as we drove on, the hills became mountains, as we rose in elevation to 7,500 ft. and the crevasses on the mountain tops displayed patches of snow, still not melted, in different shapes and sizes.
After 50 miles of driving through this incredible landscape, we entered the park. It is a huge park. We had intended to complete the upper loop, but it was too ambitious a plan, especially considering the fact that we got stuck in a traffic jam caused by bison crossing the road and people stopping to take pictures. This cost us an hour going in and half an hour coming out. These animals, often called buffalo by Americans, are immense and incredibly graceful at the same time. At one point a bull was right
beside our car and Beamer decided that he was going to let that guy know that he was not coming any closer, so he barked up a storm and the bull walked on. He did his job and he was proud of how well he protected his family. Good boy, Beamer.
The drive up the east side of the park follows the Yellowstone River and took us by waterfalls, rushing river rapids, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, a deep gorge carved between angular limestone walls, and as I mentioned, several herds of bison, roaming the green pastures along the riverbank. We must have seen 400 of these animals, and immense they are. And when they want to stand around in the road, you don't argue with them. You wait patiently until they move on.
We saw the results of the numerous forest fires that have burned through Yellowstone Park. The trees are dead, some charred black, and many have fallen right where they stood, turned gray as they dry out and begin the process of returning to the earth, so many of them, they look like a pile of "pick-up sticks", crisscrossing one on top of another, some hanging precariously
on the edge of the road threatening to fall on passing cars.
When we reached the Tower, which is a very tall waterfall hidden between two rocky walls, we knew this was the end of the line for today, and we turned around and headed back down the road that took us there. But it was not a repeat performance, because the return trip gives a totally different picture of the mountains and hills and we enjoyed it just as much going in reverse.
We returned to the hotel around 5 PM and settled in for a quiet evening of rest, preparing for day number 2, when we will see Old Faithful on the south west side of the park.
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