August 24, 2016

Yellowstone Wrap

Thanks to a shift in the winds, the view of the Yellowstone River from my balcony was crisp this morning.

Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, and for three days admission to all National Parks and Monuments will be free. [Translation: Crowded.]

That won't matter to me, as I will return to the Bay Area today. But before heading north, back to Bozeman, I had some time to slip through the Roosevelt Arch one more time.

The 45th parallel is marked where it passes through the park. [I know you were wondering about that.]

My plan was to head south (counter-clockwise) on the Grand Loop Road, as far as my time budget would allow. Perhaps the road construction wouldn't interfere. [Wrong.] Apparently one section is under one-way control, with traffic being released at 30-minute intervals. I made a u-turn.

My GyPSy guide suggested some interesting basalt columns, which gave me the opportunity to stretch my legs alongside the Gardner River.

A boy and his father were climbing the 500,000-year-old columns closest to the road, which appeared to be crumbling naturally. I didn't stick around to see how that turned out (but I was rooting for the rocks).

Given that I couldn't venture deep into the park, I paused to see whatever I could. I stopped at Swan Lake to admire the distant peaks of the Gallatin Range and spotted some white birds on the water. [Duh.] Swans.

A very detailed description of another roadside turnout rewarded me with a view of Rustic Falls, with Glen Creek snaking through the canyon, hidden from the drivers high above who must keep their eyes on the road.

During this trip, I've noticed that if I am the first to pull over, others almost certainly follow. Not a bad strategy, I suppose, if you're not being guided (by book, map, or app).

There was also an opportunity to pass through Silver Gate, a tiny loop through a field of massive limestone boulders that have toppled down from Terrace Mountain. For a closer look, I found a spot to park and walked back (along the road, very carefully).

Technically, they're not hoodoos—but that's the name that's stuck.

People often combine a visit to Yellowstone with a trip to Grand Teton National Park. Another time, for me. 

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