I will never forget the drive to the town of West Yellowstone, with my rear view mirror framing the picturesque snow-capped Teton range and miles of potato fields on both sides of the road. I have never enjoyed looking in the rear view mirror as I did during those few hours. When we finally arrived in West Yellowstone, the small town was a welcome sight. It is the quintessential western tourist town, with locally owned hotels, a couple of small grocery stores, lots of tourist shops, slanted street parking, and stoplights that turn into blinking caution lights after 9:00 pm.
We were filled with anticipation the next morning as we drove through the western entrance gate and into one of the nation's most famous parks. I could hardly believe that we were actually in Yellowstone after months of planning and dreaming. One of the downfalls to being a very thorough trip planner, is that you can build up your expectations to such a high level, reality falls short. At first, we were a little skeptical that Yellowstone would live up to our dreams. We saw lodgepole pines for a few miles, but then a glimmer of brilliant blue caught our eyes. The Madison River was tranquilly flowing, creating a gentle melody as it tumbled over pebbles. I have never seen a river on the east coast that is as pure, crisp, and clear as the Madison Our breath was taken away for the first of many times on our trip. A bit further down the road, we witnessed a huge herd of bison taking a drink in the river. That was the first of many bison sightings, and we happily checked wildlife sighting number 1 of off our list.
The awe inspiring moments continued through the first day. It was like time magically slows in the park. When I reflect on how much we experienced on just our first day it the park, it amazes me. The diversity cannot be described in words; it must be seen first hand.
|Bison herd at the Madison River|
|One of the bison "guards."|
|The Yellowstone River|
|The bacteria mats at the fountain paint pots.|
|Our first geyser sighting. We couldn't capture the smell of sulfur (rotten eggs). |
The white area in the foreground is sulfur. Just a few feet away, wildflowers and grass were growing.
|The Excelsior Geyser Crater near the Grand Prismatic Spring.|
|Stunning - The Grand Prismatic Spring|
|West Thumb on Yellowstone Lake. The sulfur covered ground and|
blue springs were a beautiful contrast to the lake.
|Black Pool at West Thumb. This was my favorite pool;|
you could actually see into the crater.
|LeHardy Rapids. Each July, trout brave the power of these rapids to|
swim upstream. That would be an amazing sight!
|A bison at the Mud Volcano. |
|The pure and sparkling Madison River|
|What a way to end the day - Sunset over Yellowstone.|