Yellowstone to Jackson

This post covers the late afternoon of Friday, May 14, 2010 — Day 21: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming to Jackson, Wyoming. You can read about the activities we did in the morning here and the activities we did in the early afternoon here

We left West Thumb Geyser Basin and headed south towards Yellowstone’s southern exit. Bordering Yellowstone is yet another national park, The Grand Teton National Park, which features one of the world’s most spectacular mountain chains, the Teton Range. These precipitous mountains rise directly out of the beautiful Jackson Hole valley. Being geologically young, little erosion has taken place, leaving extremely jagged and photogenic peaks. The largest of the mountains in the Teton range is Grand Teton, which peaks at 13,770 feet. A series of beautiful lakes sit at the base of the mountains.

While the Grand Teton park is quite large at 310,000 acres (including 40 miles of mountain range), it is tiny compared to Yellowstone. The park was first established in 1929, but it was much smaller then. Between 1930s to 1950s, and then again in the 70s, surrounding land, particularly in Jackson Hole Valley, was purchased and added to the park.

Grand Teton is outside the volcanic caldera, so it does not have thermal attractions like Yellowstone does. But there are many things about the Grand Teton park that make it special beyond the scenic mountains. It is one of the few places where that still feature the same species of flora and fauna that have existed since prehistoric time. There is a rich ecosystem with more than 1,000 species of plants, dozens of species of mammals, 300 species of birds, more than a dozen fish species, and even reptiles and amphibians. There are about a dozen small glaciers in the highest regions. Some of the rocks in the park are 2.7 billion years old, the oldest of any US national park.

As much as we would have loved to do more sightseeing in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton, we were running out of time. We drove through the southern portion of Yellowstone and all of the Grand Teton park without stopping until we got to our destination of Jackson, Wyoming. As you can see, the drive was gorgeous! And we didn’t even capture it all. We’re not sure exactly where one park ends and the next begins, but we know the first photo was near West Thumb Geyser Basin and the last photo in this series is at Moran Junction, which is just south of Grand Teton Park.

Continue reading Yellowstone to Jackson

More Yellowstone National Park

This post covers the early afternoon of Friday, May 14, 2010 — Day 21: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. You can read about the activities we did in the morning here.

We arrived at the Old Faithful Geyser, probably the biggest attraction in the park, around lunch time. As the name indicates, it is a geyser that can be counted on to erupt every 60 to 110 minutes. How long one eruption lasts indicates how long it will be before the next eruption, so a naturalist keeps tabs on the eruptions and posts a sign indicating when they think the next one will occur. It was nice to look at the sign and know we had some time to kill before the next eruption. Instead of sitting outside in the cold, we wandered into the nearby General Store and had lunch.

Shortly before the estimated spout time, we found seats in front of the geyser and settled in for the show. The water temperature inside the vent is 204 degrees Fahrenheit, so some steam generally comes out of the geyser most of the time.

The steam steadily grew in intensity, then some water started to spout out with the steam:

And then she really blew, Continue reading More Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

As we mentioned in our last post a few days ago, we are finally going to finish the Passage Across America series about our trip across the USA and back. The last post we put up in the thread covered Keystone, South Dakota to Yellowstone National Park (which is located mostly in Wyoming, with a little bit in Montana and Idaho, as well). Since that post only contained pictures, in this post, we’ll fill in some of the story.

Knowing reservations to stay in the lodges in Yellowstone needed to be made at least a year in advance, we had brought camping gear and planned to camp inside the park. However, on May 11th and 12th, it snowed. We had no idea that in the northern latitudes snow still fell so late in the year. We just assumed it would be warm and balmy; none of our camping gear was meant for super cold weather.

Not wanting to freeze to death, on the morning of the 13th, we desperately tried to find a hotel room in or around the park. We called Yellowstone’s switch board, who thought we were trying to make reservations for next year. When we clarified we meant that very night, they didn’t know what to do! They didn’t normally deal with last minute callers. After checking with a manager, we were told they had one and only one room available. We had lucked out! Knowing we had a place to stay, we proceeded to Yellowstone, as planned.

Yellowstone sits on top of one of the largest active volcanoes on earth. It last erupted 640,000 years ago, and the force of the eruption made the volcano collapse into a 45 mile by 35 mile steaming caldera (crater), one of the largest in the world. A hot spot of magma still remains under the park, creating unique hydrothermal features. Due to its unique landscape, Yellowstone became the world’s first national park in 1872.

We spent the night at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, an upscale hotel.

We had a phenomenal Continue reading Yellowstone National Park