Last week we drove almost 8 hours southeast to Yellowstone National Park to spend a week camping with folks from our church and a sister church in Boise. I was excited to show the girls all the sights there. I'd been there with my family back in high school but I didn't remember a ton of the trip except for some stinky pools. (hee hee!) I was hoping the girls would be able to see some wildlife and that they'd enjoy the sights and time with our friends.
Despite the long drive in our pickup that has no a/c, we were not disappointed when we pulled into our campground and saw a couple of elk roaming and grazing in the middle of the campground. See her there between the white care and tree? This campground wasn't really our style--there were 500 sites and each one was practically on top of the other one. I loved having a real bathroom to use, but we like a little more solitude and space in general. And the rules for food storage are out of control because they do have grizzly bears frequent the campgrounds. We weren't use to that, either, but I can totally understand why they have to do that.
Anyway, the first whole day we were there, we spent just getting situated, buying fishing/boat permits and sort of getting the lay of the land. That was Sunday and that evening we met up with all of our church friends and had a casual service overlooking Yellowstone Lake. Dave from Boise did a lesson on peace, which was perfect with this view. (Not exactly this view, but the same lake)
The next day we all (everyone from both churches) did a whirlwind sightseeing day. We were blessed to have a former Yellowstone employee in our midst, and she knew all the places to stop. This yellow building is the Lake Lodge. I loved the yellow bus--reminds me of the red jammer buses in Glacier.
Another view of Yellowstone Lake. It's the largest high elevation lake in the U.S. I believe.
We stopped at the Fishing Bridge. Actually fishing isn't allowed anymore here because it's a major spawning area for the cutthroats. It was a pretty cool area.
We explored around a bit and the trees all had bear scratch marks--which was pretty surreal.
We stopped at some pull off and I can't remember the name. I think it was the Yellowstone River and had all these rapids, which were cool. We looked over railing here where our picture was taken and there were some huge fish hanging around down there.
On our way north to the Canyon area, we spotted our first buffalo. See those two dark brown shapes? Those would be them.
While standing there watching the buffalo, we noticed a few natural springs. The water was just bubbling up. It was pretty cool.
Hayden Valley was beautiful. It stretched super far and was filled with buffalo. They were grazing, rolling in the dirt and mud and walking around. It was pretty impressive.
The girls overlooking Hayden Valley.
Tons of buffalo. Standing up over the valley you could hear them making their noises, low rumbling almost growls. It was cool.
Wade in the water....
On our way out of the valley, there was another herd closer to the road and even in the road at times. This was taken from inside the truck.
We stopped in Canyon Village for picnic lunch and souvenir purchasing. Lindsay picked out a slinky which Erik is goofing off with.
And Kera picked some cool minerals.
Our first glimpse of the Lower Falls in the "Grand Canyon of Yellowstone"
The Yellowstone River running through the Grand Canyon
There is a overlook point for the Lower Falls that literally brings you to the edge of the falls. You walk up to this railing and look over to mist and water plummeting off the edge. For someone like me who has issues with heights, the view and feeling of being suspended was a little heart fluttering. I quickly took a picture and backed away.
It was so impressive.
Another view from a little higher up. The color of the water was such a pretty green
This will give you some perspective. There is the edge of the waterfall and that platform is the scary one. Pretty cool, eh?
I really loved the Canyon area
If you squint, you'll see little people on a platform to the right of that waterfall. So this is just another view of those big ol' Lower Falls.
Lindz posing for me.
The rock walls were so cool.
Can you even imagine what the first settlers or even Lewis and Clark thought of this area?
The Upper Falls (if I am remembering correctly)
Kera really hit it off with this young man from our church--he's actually our leader' son and we just hadn't ever spent this much time with him before. He's a great guy and put up amazingly well with the girls' attention. I snapped this picture on the way to look at Gibbon's Falls.
One day we spent with just us folks from Missoula. Erik took everyone but me and the girls fishing, and so the girls and I had to self entertain on the shore of the river while they fished. It was pretty relaxing actually.
Erik, fishing the Gibbons River
After fishing, or should I say attempting to fish, we stopped at the Midway Geyser Basin on our way back. This is the hot water flowing from the Grand Prismatic Spring into the Firehole River.
The colors of these springs was so cool, it was hard to capture on film.
And the heat that would roll of them at times was impressive.
You know they are hot when they an emit steam like that on a hot summer day.
Moose or elk tracks perhaps?
This was the Opal Spring, it looked super deep.
Our last full day there we drove up to see Old Faithful. We arrived with what we thought was about five minutes til the geyser blew, so we took off running to see if we could catch it. All of a sudden there were crowds of folks walking past us in the opposite direction saying, "You missed it". Oh well. So we spent some time checking out the Lodge, which as an impressive inside with a ton of lodgepole pines (Reminds me of Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier). Then we took our picnic lunch to Old Faithful to eat and wait for it to show off for us.
Our view while eating.
And we weren't disappointed. She went off right on time and went off for a few minutes. I took a million pictures of it, it went off for so long!
Yellowstone is a pretty area that is about as diverse as they come, I think. And it's huge--we probably only saw about a quarter of what there is to see. I saw all the things I wanted to, except maybe a moose or a bear. Oh well. We had a great time admiring God's amazing creation and getting some good time with friends from Missoula and even making new friends from Boise, and so the trip was well worth it. It was a wonderful last camp trip for the summer!