June 25, 2020
We left camp at 7 am and saw a couple of large elk on the way out of camp. We wanted to get a early start so we could avoid the crowds. Our plan was to head north to Mammoth and then east to the Lamar Valley area. Our plan was to find a campsite out the northeast entrance of the park, past Cooke City, MT.
Our first stop was at some geysers along the Yellowstone River. The steam of the geysers drifted over the river and made some great pictures. We next drove along the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone road and stopped to view the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. Unfortunately, they had closed the trails that allow you to hike down to the top of the falls, so we viewed the falls from the overlooks along the canyon rim. We did hike down to a lower overlook that gave us some great views.
After the waterfalls we drove to the Canyon Village and ate breakfast at the cafe. It wasn’t crowded, but the restaurant was not very prepared to serve, so it took a long time and the food was cold. That will be the last meal we buy from the park.
We continued up the road at around 10:30 am and drove to the Mammoth area of the park. We hiked around the terraces and were able to take some good pictures. We also walked around the village area. It was interesting to see the herd of elk that live in the village and graze on the lawns of the hotel and restaurants.
From Mammoth we drove to the north entrance of the park to see the Roosevelt Arch that was the historic entrance to the park. After returning to Mammoth we drove east to the Tower Area. This area was all closed for construction, so we were not able to see the Tower Falls.
We ate lunch near the Lamar River and then drove the 20+ miles through the Lamar Valley. We were stopped for about 20 minutes due to a large herd of bison and calves that were crossing the road right in front of us. We were only the second car in the line, so we were in the middle of the action and had the bison all around us.
We finished our drive through the valley and out the northeast entrance of the park. At that point the rain started coming down hard for about 30-40 minutes. After that it was raining on and off the rest of the day. We stopped in Cooke City for gas and then drove another 15 miles to a free campsite in the national forest.
June 26, 2020
We got up around 5:45 am so we could hurry back into the park to the Lamar Valley, where a lot of wildlife is active in the morning. We were later than a lot of people, as there were cars filling many of the pullouts for viewing. We did find a spot at a high spot and watched 3 gray wolves lounging in the sun near a creek. They were quite a ways from us, but with our binoculars, we were able to see them. They didn’t do much but wander around, but it was fun to see them. They were too far away to get a picture with our cell phones. We also saw a lot of bison, antelope and geese in the area.
We ate breakfast while watching for wildlife, then continued down the road. A couple of miles past the wolves we came up on a large black bear, just off the road. There were a lot of cars and people, so we didn’t spend a lot of time, but we got a good view and a couple of pictures and videos. Another couple of miles down the road and we came upon a smaller black bear. He was in the brush and trees, so we didn’t get a great look, but did take pictures.
After seeing the wildlife, we drove on to the Mammoth area and walked through the Upper Terrace area that we missed yesterday. After Mammoth we drove to the Norris Geyser Basin and walked through the area with pools and geysers. We saw a few small eruptions, but nothing large.
We drove back to the Canyon’s area and found a shady spot to park and ate lunch. We spent a couple of hours there as we had cell phone reception and was able to update the blog. On the way back to our camp we saw a lot more bison and passed a huge traffic jam where they said there were two black bears. People were parked all over the place. We stopped and Eva went forward, but she didn’t see them.
Our last stop for the day was the Mud Volcano Geyser area. This was a 1 km walk around many vents, boiling pools and small geysers. We were back to camp around 4 pm and I set up the shower tent so we could get clean after a hot day of hiking.