Going West: Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

Yellowstone, as the first national park, is easily one of the most famous. It is also home to a wide variety of animals and many geothermal features. You can drive from mountains to mudpots, geysers to lakes, all while spotting bison, elk, moose, and bears. 

We drove into the park and one of the first things we saw was a black bear sitting in the trees near the road, munching happily on a dead deer. Apparently, it was bear season. 

I was a very safe distance away (and exceedingly thankful for a good lens). Many people were closer then I was and the bear was getting anxious. Eventually a park ranger began shouting at people to move back. 

We drove further into the park and the animals were popping up, literally, on the side of the road. 

This lovely creature was nibbling on grass next to the road and caused a near traffic jam with people ogling out their car windows with cameras and cell phones. 

So. Many. Buffalo. 

At the first set of mudpots we stopped at we encountered this shaggy creature. He was sitting a few feet from the walkway and was carefully surveying you from his spot. 

This large guy meandered in from the trees, loudly huffing, and plopped down next to the murky water.

I am always amazed that even in hot, bubbling, sulfur waters, some plants can grow. Did I mention the sulfur? It reeks. 

Next, we hit up Artist's Falls, which is one of my favorite spots. 

Our matching hats. ;) 

The view is gorgeous and you can hear the water echoing through the canyon. 

After Artist's Falls we headed north to Mammoth Hot Springs. The northern loop is gorgeous scenic, but more barren. Also, with fewer cars, thank goodness. The Hot Springs were incredible. Layer upon layer of these white and bronze pools spread across the area. Also, sulfur. 

We stayed in West Yellowstone for the night. A quaint little town, West Yellowstone thrives only on tourism. There are various stores down the main street and one excellent little coffee shop on the corner. (We may have stopped there multiple times.) 

The next morning we drove to Old Faithful. 

Through herds of buffalo

I love the smoke from the geysers against the darker sky from the approaching storm. 

So many deep blues! 

When we got to Old Faithful, the geyser had just gone off so we sat around to see it go off again. While we were waiting, we heard that another geyser was about to go off. So we ran up to the hill to watch the Beehive explode for several minutes. 

Then we came back down, secured excellent seats and waited for Old Faithful to make a timely (or late) appearance. 

(I'm that annoying person that makes the driver stop so I can get pictures of flowers and mountains.) 

We drove into Grand Teton just as a storm was approaching. 

The next day we woke up just before dawn to watch the sunrise in Grand Teton. 

Sunrises in Grand Teton are always unforgettable. 

 Since it was still very early (before 7am) we drove down to Mormon Row and Schwaber Landing because it was proving to be a clear day and there was minimal traffic. 

Mormon Row

Then we decided to do a quick trip through Grand Teton. 

We drove quickly through Grand Teton because we were rapidly running out of time, but snapped many, many pictures. I wish we had been able to spend more time in Grand Teton because I love the mountains and these breathtaking views! 

And now, after looking through all of these pictures, I'm more then ready to fly back to Wyoming for an indefinite amount of time. ;)