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[Yellowstone National Park, March 3, 2011]
This was my first trip to Yellowstone in the wintertime, and I was determined to make the most of it.
I made West Yellowstone, Montana my base camp. From there, I could visit “Old Faithful” and the geyser basins in a day, and the “Grand Canyon” of the Yellowstone River in another day.
Linda said I was “too creaky” to go snowmobiling in the Park, where winter temps can dip to minus 30° F. in the daytime, so I signed up for a snow coach both days. As it turned out, the temps never dropped below 20° F. on either day I was in the Park. But, the wind made it feel much colder.
We got underway at 8 A.M. Our destination was Old Faithful. I was riding shotgun with the driver (an orthopedic surgeon my own age, who had retired when he was 50 for the privilege of living in this wilderness paradise).
In the first photo (upper left, shot through the windshield and over the hood), we are entering the Park on the main road, which is covered by about two feet of compacted snow.
We run parallel to the Jefferson River, which remains “open” all year despite the sub-zero temperatures, thanks to the hot springs that feed it and nearby thermal activity. This, in turn, thaws the riverbanks and attracts a number of large animals, which winter there (upper right).
We reach Madison Junction, and turn south toward the geyser basins. For the next sixteen miles, we are treated to a succession of thermal features, each of them geologically distinct. Everywhere steam rises. This is where earth meets sky (two small photos at lower right).
The Park is empty. There are few snowmobiles to break the quiet. The wind picks up. Snow is in the air. Life is good.
Under the circumstances, it seems hard to believe that 3.2 million people will line these roads during June, July, and August.
Next stop: The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
As always, thanks for stopping by!
[My thanks to Elfi for the spotlight! She knows a "thing or two" about the winter! LOL]
Also by Richard Knight
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