Jackson Wyoming Town Square
Grand Teton National Park
West Thumb Geyser Basin
Mud Volcano & Sulfur Cauldron
Miscellaneous (Mostly Bison)
Norris Geyser Basin
|Today was moving
day. I packed last night before we left and spent this morning
before we left Jackson for
Gardiner, Wyoming taking pictures of
Jackson's Town Square. I love the Town Square area of Jackson.
They have these great looking elk antler arches on each corner and the
middle of the square has a monument to Jackson's veterans that
appropriately is a statue of a cowboy on a bucking horse. There is a
second memorial for John Colter who was a member of the Lewis & Clark
Expedition and was the first known person of European decent to enter the
Yellowstone/Teton Range area.
A cool thing about the town square and the elk antler arch is that every May they have an auction of antler's that have fallen off the elks in the National Elk Refuge that spring. The auction is set up by the local Boy Scouts Troop with most of the money going back to help fund the National Elk Refuge's winter feeding program. We just missed this though as it happens the 3rd Saturday each May which would have been next weekend. Oh well, I'll have to come back to see the auction another time.
There is a great store on one of the Jackson Town Square corners that might as well be a museum. Mountain Trail Galleries has these beautiful and gigantic bronze statues representing the area. There was a really cool one of 2 eagles battling 2 grizzly bears. I'd love to have money to buy one. I think it would look great at the end of my parent's pool.
After taking pictures of Jackson's Town Square I made my way back to the Jackson Hole Lodge with a quick stop at Float-O-Graphs to check out the pictures taken of us on the Jackson Hole Whitewater Snake River trip. Things have come a long way since we went rafting in the late 80's regarding pictures. Digital cameras really help this type of operation out. With wireless internet they can upload photos directly from the river to the store. I could have picked them up yesterday but we got off the river too late. Also we stopped at the Virginian Saloon too long. I bought a 5 picture package that they mailed to my home. They did have some beautiful packages with frames also but I decided to just get the pictures.
The drive from Jackson, Wyoming to Gardiner, Montana is about 150 miles but I had planned on it taking us all day. There were lots of places to see in that short distance and the speed limit is only 45 miles per hour. We made a couple of quick stops in Grand Teton National Park. First was at Taggart Lake to see if the trail looked like it might be open but it wasn't so we headed on to the Jenny Lake Visitor Center because of my mishap from Day 2 with the second set of car keys.
After picking them up we just enjoyed the drive up the Teton Road. The Teton's are just majestic. It was also nice that we had nice weather in the morning. You really have to wonder what early settler thought when they came up against the Teton's for the first time. It's definitely a long way around them and I'd think nearly impossible to go over them.
We finally reached Yellowstone National Park and got in on our week long pass we had purchased on Day 2 when we entered Grand Teton National Park. Thinks start changing sight wise once you get to Yellowstone view wise. The road becomes tighter with the landscape being more hilly closer to the road as opposed to the Grand Teton road that was rolling plains up until you hit the Mountains.
Our first stop in Yellowstone was at the West Thumb Geyser Basin where we started to run into more and more wildlife. The funny thing was as usual Scott walks way ahead of me while I'm always looking for photo opportunities and he just flies through everything really quickly. It definitely helps me though because at least I'm worried about having him wait for me too long. This time though he missed a bunch of elk that were resting right at the beginning of the trail by the Seismograph and Bluebell Pools.
This is my third trip to Yellowstone and I've also been to thermally active areas in Rotorua, New Zealand twice and it always truly fascinates me. The pools are just so beautiful with the different colors from the bacteria that can only live in these super heated features. The steam coming up out of the ground and the hissing they make in the geyser vents is just incredible. It's a shame that this whole area is just a giant volcano and will probably end up killing everyone one day when it blows again. I watch way too much Discovery Channel.
The West Thumb Geyser Basin is located right on the West Thumb Bay on Yellowstone Lake. A few of the geysers are locate in the lake shore itself. There was one called Fishing Cone that has the legend that fisherman would catch their fish and then just swing their pole with the fish on the line and steam them over the steam of the geyser.
After West Thumb Geyser Basin we next stopped at the Mud Volcano and Sulfur Cauldron. I have been to these on both my earlier trip and couldn't deny a stop here for Scott. It was a little disappointing this time because most of the Mud Volcano was closed off due to bear activity on the upper part of the trail. We did see the Mud Volcano and Dragon's Breath Spring.
It is pretty amazing to see the mud at the Dragon's Breath Spring bubbling. The temperature of the Mud Volcano is 170° F to cause the bubbling of the mud. There was a tour at the Mud Volcano and the guide there was saying how it had just recently developed a second opening and how it was killing the trees above it. The Mud Volcano is really a turbulent spring with the water from both openings sloshing around violently. It's temperature reaches about 184° F. These were the only features we could see here as I wrote earlier the trail was closed past Mud Volcano.
Across the road is the Sulfur Cauldron which is the real reason I wanted to stop for Scott. The Sulfur Cauldron absolutely smells awful from the sulfur. The cauldron is constant bubbling and the water of the cauldron has the same pH level as car battery acid.
It was at the Sulfur Cauldron that we saw our first of hundreds of bison. I think they are amazing animals. When you enter the park you are given a guide to the park and also a flyer that warns you to keep your distance from the bison. The flyer tells you that a buffalo can weigh up to 2000 pounds and can spring faster than 30 MPH. that's 3 times faster than a human can run. I was amazed on my last trip in the 90's this dad trying to pose his their little kids, who couldn't have been more than 5 years old, in front of a buffalo for a picture. What an idiot.
Next on our journey was a stop at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. On the way we saw lots of bison along the road on the Yellowstone River and in Hayden Valley. When we got to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone the weather had started to turn on us. As soon as we got there we started to get lightning and heavy rain. We were at the Artist Point overlook of the lower falls but we didn't have an idea of how far of a walk it was. I had been to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone before but had been to the north rim. This was the south rim.
Not knowing how far it was to the lookout we decided to just head on to the next stop and hopefully the weather would clear. We'd come back tomorrow to see this spot. We found out when we came back that the Artist Point Overlook was only about 100 yards from the parking lot. I wouldn't say we chose poorly because we did want to hike around some and didn't want to do it in a downpour.
We were now headed to the Norris Geyser Basin. The drive across from Canyon to Norris there is a place where there had definitely been a lot of prior forest fires. The park definitely looks much different than when I was here in the 90's as that trip was only a few years after the really bad Fires of 1988 that burned a significant portion of the park.
I've also done the walk at Norris Geyser Basin a few times and think it is a great hike. Unfortunately this time the weather betrayed us. It cleared up by the time we started and by the time we were about a mile down the trail it started to rain.....then it got harder.....and harder......then the hail started coming. I packed away my Canon camera and took out my waterproof camera. The weather really took away from this hike though. I was cold and miserable and I knew I had quite a way to get back to the car. The one funny thing of this hike is as I was finally making my way back in a school trip of about 100 kids was making their way out in the same terrible weather. I'm amazed the teachers got them to do it.
We left Norris Geyser Basin and made our way north to Mammoth Hot Spring and Gardiner. You start gaining some elevation to get to Mammoth Hot Springs. When we got there is was still raining but we did drive through the Upper Terraces which you could view fairly well from the road. I started to lose interest a little due to the rain and we were finally at our final destination after a long day. After a quick drive through the Upper Terraces we headed off to our hotel The Super 8 Gardiner. It was actually very nice. It also had an indoor pool but we never got to us it as we were there for only 1 night.
Gardiner is a cute little town and we really enjoyed our night here. I'd stay longer on another trip. It just has a lot of personality especially for pub lovers. We started with a few beers at Red's Blue Goose Saloon which we liked the most of our stops. After a few beers and some great photos of the Roosevelt Arch and surrounding area from Rosie's Cafe on it's rooftop (named after Red's wife Rosie) we went to the K-Bar Cafe. My Bison Burger was outstanding.
Next we went to the Town Cafe where we had a few beers before realizing it was a real locals bar and I don't think we were as welcome. They were all gambling on some game with the bartender. I'm thinking it wasn't completely legal although the Town Cafe and Red's Blue Goose Saloon both had slot machines.
We went to finish the night at Red's Blue Goose Saloon again which was just a lot of fun. First they had $1 Old Milwaukee Light and $2 Corona bottles. It took Scott half the night to figure out it was not Milwaukee's Best Light. At one point he told me he'd never seen "The Beast" in a bar and figured that was why it was $1 which is when I had to tell him it wasn't "The Beast" but Old Milwaukee Light.
The highlight of the evening though was watching the NBA Draft Lottery. Somehow our Washington Wizards beat the odds with Mrs. Abe Pollin as their lucky charm and won the lottery. Hopefully this will have the same affect for our owner Ted Leonsis as getting Alexander Ovechkin with the #1 pick in hockey did for the Washington Capitals. The only person who didn't look excited was John Wall of Kentucky who is our future #1 pick. I think he was expecting to go to New Jersey with their new billionaire Russian and Jaz-Z as his owner.
We spent most of the night talking to our bartender, Red's son, and a couple that had just moved to town so the husband could be a smoke jumper. It's just a real friendly place and if you are ever in Gardiner, Montana definitely spend some time at Red's Blue Goose Saloon.
Return to May 17
Jackson Hole Whitewater Rafting Trips
Forward to May 19
Mammoth Hot Springs; Artists Paint Pots; Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone & West Yellowstone, Montana