|Day 8 - Yellowstone National Park, WY
||[Aug. 14th, 2004|10:00 pm]
Trip Odometer: 2641 mi|
We woke up this morning and quickly broke camp, figuring it’d be easiest (lacking a picnic table at the site) to get food in Lovell, WY about 20 miles west. It turns out that had we not arrived at 11:30pm or so and had no need for tables or running water, this might actually be a fairly nice campground – it was in a beautiful area with some stunning views, and in a way it was sad to not get much time to explore it (but we were hungry).
We stopped at a diner in Lovell, WY after some other brief stops for gas and groceries. Otherwise the rest of the trip to Yellowstone was uneventful – the rest of 14A was reasonable and not-windy, and other than a few brief slow-downs in towns we drove through, it was a pleasant drive. Apparently though, if we had arrived after 8pm or wanted to leave from 8pm-8am the entire East Entrance road is being shut down. That’s got to hurt the tourism industry in Cody (the first town outside of the park in that direction, which appears to exist solely to support Yellowstone tourism).
After arriving and driving around the park some (read: About 45 miles) and stopping a few times at lookout points (including the first thermal vent we saw at Steamboat Point) we set up camp at the Bridge Bay area campground. Part of this involved reading no less and then set out to the visitor’s center for lunch. After lunch we drove further back towards the East Entrance and went on a short 3-mile hike to a point on Yellowstone lake. We saw some yellow-bellied marmots and a pelican, but other than that it was mostly nice for views of the lake. We did see a fire off across the lake (originally we thought it might be a thermal feature, but the ranger we saw later that night mentioned it was a fire that was currently burning).
Afterwards we were planning on driving the northern loop of the park. However, we weren’t successful since there was (the first-ever 24/7) a road closure north of the Canyon Village. We still, however, got to see some great views of the falls and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (including Artist’s Point, which was phenomenal), the Mud Geyser area, as well as some rather large herds of bison that had decided to migrate across the road (let me tell you, these things can really tie up traffic).
Returning to the campground we had a quick dinner and then went to a ranger program that covered the current problems that Yellowstone is facing – the bear/human problem, reintroduction of the wolves, how to properly treat fires, etc. It also gave a good background into the preservation efforts underway in the park, and how they aim to maintain the balance between preserving the park as it was and allowing as many visitors as possible to see it. I was really pleasantly surprised with how the ranger handled the talk.
Afterwards we sat out and finally made some good use of the star map we had purchased in the badlands, locating both dippers (easy), Cepheus, Draco, Hercules, and Casseopia before giving up and going to bed somewhat early (campsite checkout is at 10am here for some reason).