Thursday, September 1, 2011

Yellowstone Continued

If I haven't already mentioned it, the environment around you constantly changes in Yellowstone. There are prairie lands, canyons, meadows, valleys, glaciers, hills, lakes, rivers, and streams that are a very chilly 55 degrees in August and boiling geysers and springs. It's not something that I can really put into words and my pictures don't do the unstable environment of Yellowstone any justice. It is truly a place that must be experienced.

So, I left off yesterday's post at Tower Falls. These falls drop 132 feet and are at the north end of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

All over the parks in the Rockies, you see "Fire: Friend or Foe?". You would also see areas in these parks where a wildfire once consumed everything in its path. Or did it? When people think of fire, they think destruction. Well, it is destructive, but it's also something that occurs naturally and some ecosystems depend on wildfires to reproduce and thrive. For example these Lodgepole Pines...they drop their resin coated cones that lay dormant on the ground until a wildfire melts the resin off the seed so it can germinate. I had no idea! Many of the plants and even the animals have adapted to living with wildfires. One thing I read was, the spring following a wildfire usually produce the prettiest displays of wildflowers . As you can see in this photo, there are lots of tress that were killed in a fire here, but just below there are thousands of new Lodgepole Pines growing! Read more about fire in Yellowstone HERE.

As it cools off in the afternoon the chance of seeing wildlife increases. Here is a Mule Deer that was grazing in a meadow.

Why take a picture of a yucky ol' Raven? For one reason, this black bird was bigger than my dog! Granted, my dog is a chihuahua, but I believe this giant Raven could fly away with my 7 pound puppy!

We made it to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone near sunset. The evening sun was beautiful in the canyon!

This is the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, looking to our right from the top of the rim at the lower falls overlook.

This is a view of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, looking to our left at the same overlook. In this photo you see the Yellowstone river's lower falls. These falls are the highest falls in the park and drop 308 feet.

Another Bison? This is Danny taking video of the Bison walking past us. Why are they all walking on the opposite side of the road?

I liked this picture because the evening sky reflected beautifully off the still water.

Traffic started slowing down after that last bison we saw...then we saw this herd! Aren't they awesome?!

Finally, there were some bison on my side of the van! Aren't they sweet? It is mating season and I'm guessing this big guy was tending this female.

Here are a couple of little guys that were thinking about crossing the road.

Then these guys decided to cross from the other side. Traffic was VERY SLOW for about 30+ minutes because the road went right thru this herds crossing.

Seeing these two big guys charge each other and lock horns was very exciting. I'll have to share the video later!

The last site we saw before sun down at Yellowstone was the Mud Volcano also known as Black Dragon's Caldron. It makes a low hissing noise that's a little eerie especially close to dark.

I'll be honest, I didn't like Yellowstone after dark...I was SO afraid that an animal would walk out in front of us. Lets face it the swamp deer in North Carolina a puny compared to the big game out west! They don't total your car when you hit them...yes, I'm speaking from experience ...twice! Thankfully we didn't even see any big game near the road until we got close to where we were was a long ride home that night and my neck and shoulders were so tense.

Those are all the highlights of our visit to Yellowstone National Park...I actually took about 500 photos just in Yellowstone! I'll be sharing more vacation photos in the days to come!

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