On our last day in Yellowstone, we got up well before dawn since we were heading to Mammoth Hot Springs near the North entrance, and we figured at least 90 minutes for the drive, even without any “critter” traffic. Super glad we did!
In the dawn’s early light, we saw him; he was just lounging on a rise right off the road. Throughout the park, I remained on the lookout for bull elk and moose - the 2 large mammals I hadn’t “shot” yet (I had no hopes for wolves, so they weren’t even on my list). Our first night in Yellowstone, a cow greeted us on the road to our lodge.
Both elk and bison had no fear of roads, cars or even people, and sauntered wherever they wanted. Well, after 4 or 5 cars stopped and pulled over for pictures and just to admire, this big guy got up and wandered over the rise to graze in peace.
On the drive to Mammoth, we continued to be in awe of the extent of thermal activity in the park.
Our first glimpse of Mammoth Hot Springs:
We opted to skip the hour’s worth of walking on boardwalks around these springs, as we felt “geysered out” from our first day. We wanted to go on a 5+ mile hike up in the hills surrounding this area. The view of the beautiful travertine (limestone deposits) terraces started us off just right.
The name of the trail was “Beaver Ponds” but the namesake was not to be seen, nor were any moose. We got some great exercise and views.
Steve is my favorite pack animal (just takes some beef jerky and a few scratches behind the ears to keep following me happily up and down trails, carrying water, extra clothes and telephoto lens), so I included him in this shot with the hills of Montana in the background.
As we headed out of the park by the NE entrance, we passed through the Lamar Valley which is known as “the Serengeti of Yellowstone”. Apparently, wolves can be seen here because of the herds of bison and pronghorn that favor this area for grazing. No wolves for us, but plenty of the hoofed ones mixing it up.
Even a baby!
With a lingering last look, as we leave the park…