Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Yellowstone Day 1 - Mammoth Hot Springs

We were up early on Tuesday (6/2) due to time change and early rising sun.  We quickly got our stuff together and picked up our rental car before heading out.  We made a stop at Walmart to stock up on what we needed for the week for food.  
 Then it was off to head to Wyoming and Yellowstone.  The drive was beautiful (a word we used a lot during the week).
 Big Sky Country really was impressive.
 An hour later we were at the entrance to Yellowstone and the Roosevelt Arch.  It was closed due to construction but we still manged to get some pictures.  

 We made another quick stop at the visitor's center right outside the park to get a map and the low down on what we needed to do.  The kids enjoyed checking out the wildlife.

 Then it was time to enter the park!!!!  So exciting!
 Our first day was spent at the northern part of Mammoth Hot Springs which is known for its travertine springs and elk.  We had been there about 2 minutes when we had our first elk sighting.
 And then we saw some great horned owls.  We learned really quickly that in order to find animals just look for people looking for animals.
 We stopped at the ranger station to get the kids their Junior Ranger books and get some advice on what we needed to do.  The Ranger suggested that we head up to a picnic area and a waterfall outside of the Mammoth Area.  It was a great suggestion.  We enjoyed our first picnic in the park right beside a creek.
 The kids loved getting to climb on fallen trees.

 We saw some chipmunks that were really brave and really wanted our food!
 Up next was our first hike to Wraith Falls.  We weren't sure how much hiking the kids would be able to do but they did great with all the hiking.  We loved getting to get out and see so many things up close.

 The falls were a beautiful cascading falls.

 On the way back we saw a marmot sunning on a rock and a wolf on the side of the road.

 There were also lots of elk (tons of elk)!
 We went to our first ranger talk when we got back into "town."  We really enjoyed all the talks that we went to.  This one was on the wildlife in Yellowstone which was really helpful as we sought to see as many different species as possible.  
 Our accommodations for the evening were at the Mammoth Hotel.  It was very rustic to say the least.  Our room was tiny and we had a shared hall bath.  We had to remind ourselves that it was not about the accommodations but about what was on the outside!

 We had a quick dinner in the cafeteria before heading out to the hot springs area.  We got our first look at the geothermal features that are seen throughout Yellowstone.  They are just amazing!!

 It was really cloudy, windy, cool and rainy as we toured around but we were able to see an amazing rainbow over the main terrace.  You can see it faintly in these photos.  It was absolutely beautiful!!

 These travertine steps were just amazing.  They grow daily as more thermal deposits are made.  We loved learning about all of the geology of the area.

We ended the day in a crazy thunderstorm with hail so we called it a day and went to bed early.