July 20 – This morning departure time was 7am for the long car ride to the Lamar Valley, in search of bears and wolves. On our way we made a quick 15 minute pit stop to see the Mud Vulcano (a mud pot). The best part of this stop was “Dragon’s Mouth Spring.” It’s a must do! The kids loved it, as did the adults (and it is so important to get there first thing in the morning because it gets busy!).
Once over Mt. Washburn, the weather changed for the worse. We could see the rain coming as the temperature dropped. In the valley we parked in a pull out and ventured out on foot down to a river bed. A herd of bison were on the other side of the river. They were content grazing and didn’t even look our way. We took some great photos down by the river’s edge and MTP even tested the water temp.
Thunder began to rumble and in the mountains you don’t want to be caught in a thunderstorm out in the open.
So after some quick photos of the storm rolling in we all took cover in our vehicle and headed to Soda Butte, which was a quick neat stop. But once again we were in stop and go traffic. In this park the bison are the traffic lights. While stopped for a bison next to our car just off the road we noticed a coyote on the hill side, just above this big bull. We didn’t even see him at first. However, a nice stranger pointed him out to our group. Great action photos of him with the bison. Unfortunately, I was unable to capture him stalking his prey. What we didn’t see on our trip to the Lamar Valley was bears and wolves!
On our way back we made a pit stop to the south rim of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone to see how amazing Artist’s Point is. I can say photos do it no justice. It’s a must see with your own eyes to experience its grandeur (but make sure you go first thing in the morning. It was so crowded in the afternoon!). Due to the rain we returned back to our hotel where I took a much needed power nap, as did our friends.
The best trail guide on this trip, has been my beautiful wife, Briana. She picked the two afternoon hikes for the group. We drove over towards Fishing Bridge and did the Pelican Creek Trail (a short walk). Not much to see on this hike, except some pelicans, but it takes us down to the waters’ edge of Lake Yellowstone and makes for a great photo opportunity.
Not content on that short hike we drove over to Bay Bridge Marina for the 2 mile Natural Bridge Trail. This is a MUST see and do. This hike starts out very easy with easy access from the parking lot which leads to a paved road. The best part of this hike is the final 20 minutes. We didn’t know we’d be able to climb to the top of the bridge and see it from to the top. If you have any fear of heights, you may want to consider not making the climb to the top. Stunning views! Please add this to your list of hikes.
We had a small dinner at the diner in the General Store at Lake Yellowstone, then returned to relax and listen to a sting quartet in the lobby of the hotel until we turned in for the evening.
Tomorrow we check into the Old Faithful Inn.