Incredible day!!! This place is so unique. So beautiful. So wild! At times I felt like we were in the dinosaur age and others we might as well been at a theme park because it was hard to believe what we were seeing was real.
We started the trip with a visit to the Bozeman Co-Op to pick up a picnic lunch. We met Molly there, who gave us an amazing itinerary for the day complete with a highlighted map and guide book. We decided on a a few side salads for lunch and picked up sandwiches a stop later…
…at Great Harvest! Gotta support the network ;mrgreen: And it is the best bread around
Then we were off on the drive through Paradise Valley to Yellowstone. Mountains galore!
A surprisingly quick drive later, we were at the park’s gates.
We stopped into the Mammoth Visitor’s Center and were surprised to see a family of Elk just hangin’ out!
Our first stop was Mammoth Springs. I really wish I could explain everything we saw, but that would take a lot of research in the guide book and I’d rather just show you in photographs 🙂
Something that used to be active all dried up..
We climbed up and up and mountain of boardwalk to get to the top.
JUST STICK AN EGG IN MY MOUTH. The sulfur smell around all of these thermal spots was overwhelmingly just like an egg!! An incredible, edible egg.
Bocker liked it!
It was after 12 when we finished the hike up and down so we had a little snack. Some of BethT’s herby nuts and a tiny local apple from the Co-Op
Next stop: Wraith Falls. Unlike Mammoth, we were all alone on this half mile and back hike to a waterfall and I was pretty scared we’d see a bear! We made it back out unnoticed 🙂
More gorgeous scenery as we continued our drive
And then we stumbled upon…..
A family of bison!! I was quite scared at first, but felt safe in my car.
Not sure how smart this guy is though…
We passed some cool natural formations (I think this goes back to lava?)
And sadly a burnt forest
SO THANKFUL we had good weather!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We climbed up a steep mountain and had someone flash their lights at us.
Not a turn around the bend later….
He walked THIS CLOSE to our car!!!!
And if you look closely, you can see him eyeballing us
A little while later we found another. I think the bison were my favorite part of the day!!
Only one bear sighting…
Around 2PM we were very hungry for lunch and picked out a river cascade of rapids to dine with
The sandwich was incredible. Turkey, bacon and swiss on Dakota bread with lettuce, tomato and a curry-dill mayonnaise.
We each had half
Chewing was fun
Our sandiwch came with a bag o’ chips that we also plit
And we shared two fabulous side salads from the co-op!
Chipotle roasted acorn squash
And ginger-garlic quinoa with kale and purple cabbage. SO GOOD!
Dessert! Also shared.
Next we attempted a really cool waterfall hike but it was closed 🙁
So we resorted to checking out the view from above
Next up: Artist Point!
Then we traveled to Rohan
Found some more bison
What did HE have for dinner!?
The Mud Volcano Walk was awesome!!!! Totally unbelievable too.
Bubble, bubble, toil and mud boil
The Dragon’s Mouth was SO scary!! Big puffs of steam and grunts from inside a dark cave
And the boiling Mud Volcano!! It was VOILENT!
Sportin’ the brand
But we didn’t get to see it all 🙁
Appropriately there was a big evil crow lurking about
Lake Yellowstone Panoramic
Our final sightseeing stop of the day was none other than Old Faithful
Upon arrival, we had over an hour until the next eruption, so we explored the area, which was loaded with geysers and thermal holes. It was nearing 6PM at this point and the sun was setting. We walked for over an hour and it got quite chilly!
All day long, we were struck by how much the Yellowstone scenery changed just a few miles down the road. And I will admit the Lord Of The Rings talk was non-stop. We passed through Rohan, Helm’s Deep, the Dead Marshes, The Pass of Caradhras, the Mines of Moria, and even Mt. Doom. That must say something about how fantastical Yellowstone is. [Or what nerds we are.]
A mini faithful
I had to run underneath the splatter to get by. It was quite scary!! I thought it would be scalding, but it was cold.
Animal sighting #3: A moose and his harem!
Bocker liked them!
By sundown, Old Faithful had quite the audience
And she put on a show to match!!
After the show, we made our way to the one and only open restaurant, which we’d checked out menu-wise on our walk. Our dinner options were to eat at the lodge and then drive to West Yellowstone (about an hour) in the dark, or drive home hungry and find a restaurant near the hotel that might suit our preferences. The lodge won!
There were heaters behind the booths!
Best food on middle earth:
We started with a round of beers. I wanted red wine, but beer just seemed more appropriate for a lodge. After a quick sample of one of the beers on tap…
I got the Snake River Lager from Jackson. Loved it!
And Matt got a delicious can of Moose Drool!!! What an awesome brew name.
The menu was not that extensive, and we decided that we would split the bison short ribs.
We both got Caesar salads (dressing on the side)
Since we were splitting the entree, I got a large cup of corn chowder for us to share as well. It was 98% cream, 1% corn and 1% potato, but OH-SO-GOOD. But ultimately, I like my cream iced so I had a few generous spoonfuls and Matt ate the rest.
The short ribs (braised in Moose Drool sauce!) were pretty good if you like ribs. I only sorta do and I enjoyed me 3 big bites, but I prefer bison in burger form 🙂 The mashed taters were really good!
After we finished dinner we set out on the scary drive back. The walk across the dark, dark parking lot was the worst. And once we were in our car we saw an animal! Fox? Wolf? Coyote? It was no Lillian! Thankfully we made it home without hitting any animals with our car, and I was able to blog most of the way.
Tomorrow our journey across Middle Earth continues to Dillon, but we have all day to get there.
“I think I’m quite ready for another adventure” said Bilbo Baggins