After covering the east and west sides of the park, we ventured up in the northern areas next. Our first stop was at the very cool Norris Geyser Basin, home of Steamboat Geyser, the world’s tallest geyser at 300-400 feet tall. Unfortunately, it didn’t go off while we were there, and the last time it did erupt was in 2005.
As we continued north, we briefly stopped to check out Roaring Mountain, where three steam clouds poured out of the mountainside. We then checked out the Sheepeater Cliff, which looks like building blocks stacked one upon another. The cliff got its name from the Indians who lived in this area. We then drove through the absolutely gorgeous Golden Gate and got out to get some incredible photos of the region and the nearby Rustic Falls.
We then entered the next area called Mammoth and went to the amazing Mammoth Hot Springs. The elevated boardwalk winds and meanders through incredible rock formations called the Upper and Lower Terraces. After walking through the Lower Terrace, we went up to the Upper Terrace where the travertine terraces look like pure white ice bordered by turquoise springs. I remember reading about how it almost looked like a scene from the Lord of the Rings, and the surreal setting fit that description perfectly. I also got a kick out of the Liberty Cap, a tall dormant hot spring cone.
We then entered into town where a male elk was drawing quite the crowd as it grazed in a resident’s front yard. We found another female elk not too far away lounging under a tree as we walked around the quaint downtown section, which has a few cool historic buildings from the early 20th century.
Since we had only entered the park through the West Yellowstone entrance, we decided to drive out of the Northeast entrance and into the old-west-style town of Gardiner, where we enjoyed some bison burgers and huckleberry ice cream. We then drove back into the park as we passed under the Roosevelt Arch through the park’s original entry point.
As we made our way towards the Tower area, we noticed a herd of elk across the Boiling River, a swimming spot where the water temps range from 50 degrees to 130 degrees. And not only were a few people enjoying the clear waters, quite a few elk were also taking a dip. I ran down to the water as C-Lo stayed at the top of the hill near the car. The elk’s mating season is about to get into full swing and sure enough, a bull elk was out bugling for a mate.
As we neared Tower, we came across yet another waterfall called Undine Falls. We then visited a petrified tree. Surrounded by a fence, we weren’t able to knock on it, but we couldn’t resist the golden fields behind us that led to the pristine Lost Lake. Having seen quite a few bison and elk by now, we were hoping to see some moose and thought for sure we’d see some along the lakeshore. But other than a few deer and wolf droppings, there was no meese to be found.
But we did get an unexpected surprise as we got back on the road and noticed a bunch of cars stopped ahead. At first, we figured it’s just another bison traffic jam but upon further investigation, it was a black bear foraging just off the roadside. Unfortunately, a photographer was blocking the traffic and taking her sweet time snapping photos of the bear. By the time we finally got near the bear, a park ranger instructed everyone to keep moving and we were only able to snap a couple pictures of the furry guy.
We then reached Tower and went over to the impressive Tower Falls. We hiked along the trail that went down to the serene river, where we could’ve stayed all night. But we were running out of daylight quickly so we had to move on. Since we were still full from our bison burgers, we forewent dinner and decided to go back to the resort. As we drove along, we saw a sign that said not to report any fires in the area. Finding the sign kind of odd, not long after reading it, we noticed a big plume of smoke and bright orange flames light up the dusk sky as rangers were conducting a controlled fire. Another day full of wild surprises had come to an end, and we had one day left in the Yellowstone area.