Another big day driving around Yellowstone today, this time focusing on the northern half.

Today I did a better job of remembering that there’s over 10,000 geysers in Yellowstone it’s OK to skip a few. Even if you stay in the car on the main loop road you’re going to see dozens of them, some of which are quite striking but don’t even warrant a name or sign. I had a few in mind that I wanted to show Danika, but soon decided that if there was a lineup to get into the parking lot then we’d just go onto the next one. That allowed us to cover a huge amount of ground today.

We “did” Prismatic Spring, Fire Hole Lake Drive, Obsidian Cliff, single-lane roadworks, Sheepeater Cliff, Mammoth, Roosevelt Lodge, Tower Fall, Mt Washburn, and Norris Geyser Basin. Driving over the pass we hit a thunderstorm which brought a bunch of rain that unfortunately washed out our plans to visit the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and go for a hike. We hung out for 90 minutes at Canyon Village but with temperatures down into the 50s and no sign of the rain abating we decided to cut our losses and squeeze them in tomorrow.

Sheepeater Cliff has interesting basalt columns.
Mammoth Spring with Fort Yellowstone in the background
Tower Fall
Apparently August is considered the beginning of fall in Yellowstone. After today I believe it!

I felt a bit disappointed leaving Canyon Village without seeing the actual canyon, so we took a chance and headed down into Hayden Valley where Danika’s Park Ranger friend told us we would find bison this time of year.

And boy, did it pay off!

A pack of vehicular humans squabbling over a fresh prize.

In Yellowstone you quickly learn that when there’s a bunch of cars clustered at a random spot then there’s some kind of wildlife visible. This time it was the craziest I’ve ever seen: cars parked everywhere, a hundred people on the side of the road, park rangers setting out traffic cones, etc. We managed to park precariously on the steep shoulder and asked a ranger what we had.

“Bear with a carcass!”

Oh boy. Now I get the excitement! We went over the road and joined the crowd staring across the river. Couldn’t see a thing, even with people pointing.

A woman came up to me and said “Would you like to see it? My husband has a spotting scope set up and we always like to make sure the kids can see.” Beautiful act of generosity; we thanked her and went over for a look.

It was probably 200 yards away, across the river and through a small copse. I doubt even with a telephoto lens on a camera you’d get a good shot, but with the scope on a tripod the scene filled the whole eyepiece: the top half of a black bear visible over a downed bison.

Danika was excited to look but less excited after she actually saw; we had a short conversation about The Circle of Life and she understood (we saw The Lion King remake just before we left).

Tomorrow is our last day at Yellowstone; we’re going to drive through the park, do the Canyon and a hike, then head out the North East Entrance for an adventure of a different kind.