Friends had told us that Yellowstone was really brown, and that we would enjoy Grand Teton National Park so much more because it was a beautiful green. We simply had not found that to be true until we decided to drive over to Gardiner MT, and view the Roosevelt arch.
Lo and behold, that is where we found the brown of Yellowstone. . .it really looked like the desert, and although the Northern Entrance of Yellowstone is called America's Serengeti, we weren't buying it.
We didn't see a single one of these wildlife anywhere. However, fall is only a few weeks away. . .perhaps when the snow starts falling in the mountains, the animals will show up. We will go back to check it out, and give you an update.
Because we are spending the summer in West Yellowstone MT, the easiest way to get to Gardiner MT is to drive the Madison to Norris Bypass (which is under construction,) and then drive the Norris to Mammoth Springs Bypass. As you can see, this is a beautiful drive. That is why we were so shocked when we arrived on the Gardiner side of the mountains to find the desert. Heretofore, everything we had seen had been lush, green and beautiful.
Just another example of the beautiful scenery that we passed on the way. . .
and this is Yellowstone's very own "Golden Gate Bridge"
If you can imagine, before this first trestle bridge was built, you had to go up and over that layer of rock to the left of the bridge. . .that is called the plateau. . .I was very thankful to drive around the rock!
and here is Mammoth Springs. . .this pic does not even begin to do it justice. It is one of those things in life that you must experience first hand. . .up close and personal. Mammoth Spring is an awesome, massive, layer upon layer of solid rock, upon which and within which are numerous bubbling boiling ponds, and puddles, and waterfalls of water. It is just an amazing place.
Now we drove to Mammoth Springs, because there are always tons of elk everywhere, and we wanted to see if they had their antlers yet. Well, there was not a single elk to be found anywhere. I have no idea where they were hiding them all, but since we also wanted to see the Roosevelt Arch, and it was time for lunch, we headed on into Gardiner MT.
Between Mammoth Spring and the Yellowstone North Entrance is the 45th parellel
and just outside the North Entrance of the park is the little tourist town of Gardiner MT
Gardiner is actually a lot bigger than it looks, with several nice hotels right on the Yellowstone River, and a few RV Parks, several restaurants. I didn't see a grocery store, or pharmacy, but I am sure they were available, and Livingston MT, which is a fair size town, is only about 30 minutes away.
Had we known the roads inside the park were as great as they are, we probably would have come in this way instead of going all the way around through Bozeman. The only portions of the park that we would not want to pull our RV are over the Dunraven Pass. There are just too many switchbacks, and steep grades, and then of course, we would not choose to come in the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone with our RV, because that would mean pulling it over the Beartooth Scenic Bypass. . .not a good idea!
So, now that we had a great lunch in Gardiner, we can go explore the Roosevelt Arch
It truly is a beautiful masterpiece, and I am glad we took the time to go and see it.
A closer look at the inscriptions. . .although Yellowstone was created as a National Park in 1872, the arch wasn't built until 1903. President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the arch while he was vacationing in Yellowstone, and thus, it is named the Roosevelt arch!
Coming back through Mammoth Springs, we took the Mammoth Springs to Tower Falls Bypass, which took us right by Fort Yellowstone. The army was actually stationed at Yellowstone, and maintained a presence in this fort to protect the park from vandalism.
Another reason for spending the day in the park was to drive over to Lamar Valley to look for grizzly bears and wolves. Lamar Valley is the most active wildlife area that we have found, and I am sure we will make several more trips over there before we leave in October.
This black bear was in a meadow right by the road between Mammoth Springs and Tower Falls. There was nowhere to pull over, and the park ranger was out directing traffic, but I was able to get this awesome shot as we drove very slowly past him.
We saw a second black bear a little further down the road, but he was much further away, and our pics of him are not so great.
ahhh. . .now on to Lamar Valley and the wolves.
They were so far away, you can just see them in the center of the photo.
There are two of them in this shot, and they kept going in and out of that gully.
We wondered if perhaps they had a den there? Not sure.
We could see them really well with the binoculars, but alas, the telephoto on the camera was just not quite powerful enough. We watched them for two hours. . .and shared our binoculars with several families. The kids were just amazed that they had actually gotten to see real wolves. And even those from other countries, with whom we communicated with hand signals were thrilled.
and finally. ..our last shot of the day. . .a lone wolf just left center in the photo.
We had such a great day, and truly look forward to our next adventure out to Yellowstone. . .