Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bear Lake Road & Wild Basin

On August 22, our first day at Rocky Mountain National Park, we drove the length of Bear Lake Road, which had been closed when we were there in 2012. A beautiful spot along that drive is Sprague Lake.

Sprague Lake (Photo by Doug)

We always love a good waterfall, so we decided to hike the trail to Alberta Falls.

Trail to Alberta Falls

Mountain Ash Berries

Chipmunk on Trail to Alberta Falls

Alberta Falls

Mule Deer Along the Trail

After our hike to Alberta Falls, we decided to drive about 30 miles south of Estes Park to the Wild Basin area of the national park, for a short hike to another waterfall, Copeland Falls.

Lower Copeland Falls

Upper Copeland Falls

On the way back to Estes Park from Wild Basin, we stopped to get a picture of the Chapel on the Rock at Allenspark, Colorado. It's open to the public, but it was closed for the day by the time we got there.

Chapel on the Rock

And now, some video from our waterfall hikes:

I'll have one more post from the Rockies next time.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Moose and a Sunset

On August 21, we drove from West Yellowstone, Montana to Estes Park, Colorado. I don't know what I was thinking when I made those plans because it's a drive of over 600 miles (966 km), a good part of it through the mountains. It wound up taking us about 13 hours, including a few stops along the way. If we were to do it again, I'd plan to stay overnight somewhere in between.

Needless to say, there weren't many stops for photographs along the way. However, there were two exceptions. The first was for a young bull moose, which we spotted in Pinedale, Wyoming. The moose was in a field right beside the main road in downtown Pinedale.


There was a convenient place to pull our vehicle off the road beside the field. I jumped out with my camera and began snapping photos of the moose on the far side of the field. Suddenly, his head came up. He stared at me for a few seconds, then began running toward me. That's when I captured the above photo.

I retreated to our minivan; but, when I saw that Doug was getting out with the video camera, I joined him. The moose had turned away from the place where I'd been standing and had stopped several yards to our right. Another couple was standing at that location, and we walked down to join them. Suddenly, the moose snorted and moved quickly toward us. We all ran like sissies. The fence between us didn't look strong enough to stop a determined moose, but Mr. Moose was apparently not that determined. I snapped one final shot of him before getting into the relative safety of our van.


The second photo stop was prompted by a beautiful Colorado sunset:


Following is a video of our moose encounter. The first part is after I'd retreated to the car and then gotten out again with Doug and his camcorder. In the last part, you'll recognize when we fled from the second threat.

Mark, at, estimates the age of this moose at one and a half or two and a half years. You may have noticed that the the right antler seems deformed. Mark says that the young bull probably received an antler injury earlier this year. He believes that the antler will grow in normally next year.

Our final stop on this trip was Rocky Mountain National Park, where we spent two days before starting for home. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Yellowstone Geysers & Hot Springs

August 20th was our last day in Yellowstone National Park, and we used it to visit as many of the geysers and hot springs as we could. I should preface this post by saying that there are so many geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone that I couldn't begin to share everything we saw on that day. Consider this a sampling.

Terrace Springs

Milbert's Tortoiseshell Butterfly, Flame Skimmer Dragonfly, Mormon Fritillary Butterfly
(all seen in Biscuit Geyser Basin)

A scene in Biscuit Geyser Basin

Sapphire Pool in Biscuit Geyser Basin

Jewell Geyser at rest and the same geyser erupting

Osprey, carrying fish, flying above Firehole River in Upper Geyser Basin

Castle Geyser at rest

Giant Geyser
(Last two eruptions were September 28, 2015 and January 22, 2010.)

Firehole River

Morning Glory Pool
Morning Glory Pool was named for it's once-blue color that resembled the deep blue of its namesake flower. Apparently, over the years, people have tossed coins and other debris into the pool. The debris became imbedded in the sides and vent of the spring. As its temperature dropped, orange and yellow bacteria that formerly colored only the periphery of the spring now spread toward its center, changing the color of the water to green. It's still beautiful, but not with the same beauty that it once had.

Riverside Geyser
Riverside Geyser is always a favorite of ours. Situated on the bank of the Firehole River, it's one of the most picturesque geysers in the national park. It's eruptions, spaced about 5-1/2 to 6-1/2 hours apart, last about 20 minutes. If you look closely at the above photos, you'll see a rainbow in the mist.

Daisy Geyser
Daisy was our last geyser of the day. After that, we enjoyed supper at the Old Faithful cafeteria, then headed back to our motel in West Yellowstone. The West Entrance Road is often a good place to view elk in the late afternoon and evening. We didn't see any large groups on this night, but a lone female in the river was worth a stop.

Elk along West Entrance Road
Today's video is a little longer than usual (about 5 minutes total), but I wanted to give you the opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of bubbling hot springs and erupting geysers. Hope you find these things as fascinating as Doug and I do.

We left Yellowstone the next day and drove to Estes Park, Colorado, where we spent the last two days of our vacation. More on that next time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Upper Loop of Yellowstone

Having toured Yellowstone's Lower Loop on August 18, we drove the Upper Loop the next day.

This is a scene on the approach to Mammoth Hot Springs, on the west side of the Upper Loop.

Gardiner, Montana, at the North Entrance of the National Park

Petrified Tree, between Mammoth and Tower Junction

Soda Butte in Lamar Valley

The sign at Soda Butte reads, in part: "This travertine calcium carbonate mound was formed more than a century ago by a hot spring. Only small amounts of hydrothermal water and hydrogen sulfide gas currently flow from this once more-prolific spring."

Lamar Valley is a good place to look for wildlife. On this day, we saw only one pronghorn antelope (sorry, no photos), buffalo, and a lone coyote pictured below:

Coyote in Lamar Valley

Calcite Springs Overlook, between Tower Junction and Canyon Village

Unique Cliff Formations Seen from Calcite Springs Overlook

Part of the Burn Area From the 1988 Fires. Recovery is slow.

Doug and Me at Upper Falls Overlook

Watching for Wolves in Hayden Valley
Apparently, some of the people in the above photo had seen wolves earlier; but the wolves had disappeared during a rain shower. The viewers had been waiting for over an hour for a reappearance. Doug and I joined them for awhile; but, as darkness fell, we gave up and started back to smoky West Yellowstone for the night.

And now, some video clips from this day in Yellowstone:

Geysers and hot springs were the focus of our next day in Yellowstone. But I'll save that for another post. 

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Yellowstone's Lower Loop

When we arrived in West Yellowstone the night of August 17, there was ash falling from the sky from two nearby wildfires. The streets were filled with smoke the next morning.

20161006 Yellowstone's Lower Loop
Smoke in West Yellowstone
The smoke made breathing a little difficult. Our motel didn't have air conditioning, and we couldn't leave our motel room windows open because of the smoke. Thankfully, it cooled down enough at night to be comfortable in the room. We half expected a knock on the door in the middle of the night to tell us we were being evacuated, but that knock never came.

The roads in Yellowstone National Park form a sort of figure 8, with an upper loop and a lower loop. Today's post features scenes from Yellowstone's Lower Loop, all from August 18.

PicMonkey Collage_Gibbon_Falls
At Gibbon River Falls

Lower Falls from Artist Point

Looking the other way down the canyon from Artist Point

View of the canyon from the brink of Lower Falls on the North Rim

An osprey nest, located on a pinnacle in the canyon, can be seen from Lookout Point. There was one osprey in the nest, and Doug just happened to catch a second one coming in for a landing. I never even saw that one and was surprised to find Doug's shot of it on the camcorder. But I did catch a series of shots of one of them leaving the nest and flying down the canyon.

PicMonkey Collage_Osprey
Our last destination that day was the Firehole Lake Drive. It's the home of Great Fountain Geyser, and we were hopeful of seeing that one erupt. But it's next eruption was estimated for the wee hours of the morning. We continued on our drive to Firehole Lake, though. Actually, there was no choice since it's a one-way road.

White Dome Geyser on Firehole Lake Drive

Firehole Lake
The colorful sky in the last two photos is due in part to sunset and clouds, but smoke from the fires near West Yellowstone also contributed.

Lastly, I've put together some video clips from this day in Yellowstone:

The next day, we toured the Upper Loop; but that will be another post.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Tetons & Yellowstone

When we left Dubois, Wyoming on August 17, we drove to and through Grand Teton National Park, on our way to Yellowstone National Park. The views of the Teton Mountains were much clearer on this day than they had been when we made a day trip there a few days earlier.

Teton Mountains at Jackson Lake

At Jackson Lake Dam

Along Moose-Wilson Road

Leaving the Tetons and entering Yellowstone via the south entrance, we stopped for a few pictures at Lewis Falls.

Lewis Falls
Later, after a stop for supper at the cafeteria at Lake Village in Yellowstone, we drove through Hayden Valley on our way to our motel in West Yellowstone. Buffalo on the roadway were causing huge traffic jams.

Yellowstone Traffic Jam Caused by Buffalo 

Following is video footage from this day, including the Tetons, Lewis Falls, and a Yellowstone traffic jam.

I'll have more from Yellowstone next time.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Our Last Day in Dubois

August 16th was our fifth and final day in Dubois, Wyoming. On this day, we went for the second scenic drive suggested to us by the woman at the reservation desk at the Longhorn Ranch Resort.

Trail Lake Road is a gravel road which leads past a series of lakes and through the 12,181-acre Whiskey Basin Wildlife Habitat Management Area, home of the largest herd of Bighorn Sheep in the world. Unfortunately, at this time of year, the sheep were up at higher elevations, and we didn't see them. Whiskey Basin is their winter range. A good reason to return for a winter visit.

Torrey Lake Along Trail Lake Road

Trail Lake Road

Trail Lake Road

At the end of the road, at the foothills of the mountains, we found a lovely wooded area which made the perfect site for a picnic lunch and a little reading.

Our Reading Spot at the End of Trail Lake Road

Back at the Longhorn Ranch Resort, we found this little visitor 

Part of the Business District in Downtown Dubois

That night, John and Betty (our chariot-racing friends) took us out for supper. We had planned to eat at the Cowboy Cafe, but it was closed that night; so we wound up at the Nostalgia Bistro, where we spent an enjoyable evening of conversation during our meal. 

The next day, we left Dubois for a drive through the Tetons and a four-day stay in West Yellowstone, Montana, while touring Yellowstone National Park. 

More on that next time.

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