The United States of America, Montana, Seeley Lake

Friday, May 18, 2007

700 miles to Yellowstone

Thanks to Steve and Cherry who made this trip possible for me.

We left Seeley Lake at about four thirty on Friday afternoon. Ahead of us was about 700 miles and a great trip to Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone National Park is the first park in the United States and in the world as well. The US Congress established it on March 1, 1872. It is famous for its geysers, hot pools and springs. The concentration of geysers is the highest in the world. Wildlife is another thing what Yellowstone is famous for. In one day you can see elks, bison, squirrels, pelicans and bears if you are lucky. I did this trip with Max (another ex-change student in my school) and his host parents Steve and Sherry.
We arrived late at night to West Yellowstone. West Yellowstone is a city by the west entrance to the park. We checked in to our hotel. It is not a problem to get a room for a good price in May. It starts to get worse at the beginning of June and July and August might be pretty busy. There were two other ex-change students staying in the same hotel so we spent some time enjoying local pool and sharing our experiences.

Alarm woke us up early in the morning, we had a breakfast at eight and by nine we were ready to enter Yellowstone National Park. The entrance is just 1-2 miles from West Yellowstone. Park entry fee is $10-20 per vehicle. Steve has a special card that enables him to enter any national park in the US ($50). You also get a map and a simple guide, which help you to orient in the park.

First thing that gets your attention are rests of burnt trees. There was a catastrophic fire in 1988, which swept across 1.4 million acres. The aftermath of it is still visible today. The guide says that many observers now describe the fire as a natural event heralding a new cycle of growth.
Another thing that you cannot miss are bison. Even though that there is a speed limit in the whole park, be careful so you do not get surprise by a bunch of bison on the road. It is not like if you hit a deer (which happens a lot in Seeley). Otherwise bison are fascinating animals and you have a lot of possibilities to get a picture of them. Remember, they are wild animals and if your presence makes them to move you are too close. Every year there are few fatal accidents, because some photographers are just too curious.
From the west entrance we drove toward Old Faithful. There are many places where you can stop on the way and watch geysers or take pictures of wildlife.
Old Faithful is probably the most famous part of the park. It is a geyser that erupts exactly every 90 minutes. He does this for ages. When we came there was still about an hour left before the next eruption so we took a quick walk around and had a picnic lunch. Popularity of this place is equal to the number of tourists that come every year to see it.
From there we drove west to the Yellowstone Lake. The lake has a surface area of 136 sq mi and 110mi of shoreline. There is a road on the western side of the lake from which you can see the whole lake. We took it and moved to the northern end of the lake where is the Fishing Bridge. Even though the temperatures were high for couple of weeks there was still ice floating in the river.
We almost have seen a black bear. We were driving along the road and suddenly there were lot of cars parked at the side of the road and we saw bunch of people running with their cameras through the forest. We asked one guy what was going on there and he told us that they were chasing a black bear. Poor bear. We decided to leave bear behind us and continued to the Canyon Village.
This place is also called the Grand Canyon of Wyoming or of Yellowstone National Park. There are two falls on the river. On the first one the river falls 33m down in the canyon and the second one it falls 100m even deeper in the canyon. It is a spectacular show.
The day was getting toward its end and we still had lot of miles in front of us. Last stop was at the Mammoth Hot Spring. These ornate travertine terraces are made of lime stone deposits and can grow up to an inch per day.
Our very last stop before we left the park was the souvenir shop and we also had to take a photo with the famous gate at the north entrance.
After that we drove to Bozeman where we stayed overnight.
On Sunday morning we catch a quick walk through the downtown of Bozeman and we also visited the Museum of Rockies. There are some permanent exhibits of dinosaurs and settler's history plus they have there a temporary exhibition of King Tutankhamun and some Picasso's ceramic art. It was a quite interesting finish of our trip.
After 700 miles on roads we got back to Seeley Lake on Sunday's evening. All of us were tired but full of extraordinary experience.