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

Keystone to Yellowstone

Wednesday, May 11 — Day 19: Keystone, South Dakota to Yellowstone National Park, which is mostly in Wyoming with a little bit in Montana and Idaho (continuing on the Passage Across America)

Even though it was still snowing, we went back to Mt. Rushmore in hopes that visibility may be better. This first picture is at the entrance to the park. If you look at the trees in this morning’s photo versus the photo taken yesterday evening at the same location, you’ll get a sense of just how hard it was snowing.

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Visibility was better. There was still cloud cover and most of the time the faces were completely obscured, but as the clouds moved, you could occasionally catch a glimpse.

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We got back on the highway and went to Devil’ Tower National Monument in Wyoming, where visibility was Continue reading Keystone to Yellowstone