Monday, July 30, 2007

Yellowstone: Day 2

Another marathon post, can you make it through to day 4?

July 19th

Again we woke up well rested to the sounds of nature and the brightness of the rising sun, but this time it was in a much more relaxed manner! We got up, gathered our things and headed to the showers. The showers at the Canyon Campgrounds are in the same building as registration, firewood purchasing, telephones and the laundromat. You pay around $3.50 to enter the showers and stay as long as you want. Of course I used up as much hot water as I wanted because the supply seemed limitless. After that, we had time to go back to our campsite to eat breakfast, pack lunches and have a bible reading. It was so peaceful sitting at the picnic table reading and feeling the morning sun begin to heat up the air around us. The mornings are chilly in Yellowstone but the sun quickly warms the air reminding you that in only a few short hours you will be searching for a bottle of water or an ice cream cone to cool you down.

We drove over to the cabins to meet the rest of the crew and headed out on the road towards Hayden Valley. Lance and his boys were fishing somewhere out past that area, and since it was around 9 am, we thought that we might still have a chance to see some wildlife. we weren't disappointed, because our drive through Hayden Valley drove right past herds of bison. It was so neat to see so many of them and a lot of younger calves. The young calf has a lighter colored fur than the older bison for the first summer months of it's life. It is incredible to think that the babies that we saw were only three months old, and seemed almost 1/2 the size of a normal cow! These bison can be as big as a car and can run at 30 mph. They seem to be very tame, ignoring humans and then within an instant, change to being a bit skittish and can break out in a run at any moment. It's important to stay in your vehicle, but as with all wildlife in Yellowstone, tourists try and get as close as possible to get good photographs. At one point I jumped out of the car to get a shot, and I heard a lady in the neighboring car say "let's get out of here, people are getting silly!" Well, I felt that I was safe, since I was at least 100 feet from the closest bison, and within 5 feet of the van door, but I decided to get back in the van anyways and we continued driving on to find Lance and his boys.

The stretch of the Yellowstone River that the guys were fishing at was amazing. We ended up spending the entire morning there observing the surroundings. It was almost directly across from Mud Volcano. Our special spot was a short walk from the road to the side of the Yellowstone River. What was most amazing about this spot, was when you looked across the river, about 100 feet away you could watch a herd of bison of all ages, steaming hot springs and occasionally water from small geysers shooting in the air. The bison would roll in the dust, stand in the steam to ward off bugs, chase each other etc. It was cute watching the playful young bison act just like cow calves, scampering around, butting their heads and digging in the ground. It was like sitting in a real live nature video. I am not too fond of large scary animals close up, so when most of the bison decided it was time to cross the river and come graze on "our" side of the river, my adrenaline kicked in. Just the day before at the Old Faithful interpretive center video they had shared a shot of a photographer getting mauled by a bison, so I was a little skittish.

The view across the river. Bison and steaming geysers.

Notice the geysers in the water downstream from this fly fisherman.

Fishermen and Bison share the river.

If you have time, watch these videos some time. It was incredible to be so close to the bison and watch them as they go through their day. I will never be able to explain it in words, or express the feeling it gives you while you are there so maybe the videos will help.

Bison Videos:
They decide the grass is greener on our side of the river and start to cross.
A large group reaches our side of the river and start running.
Two of them get swept downstream.
Territorial males kick up dust and one chases the other.

The Mr. and I walked across the road to Mud Volcano. The others were not that interested since it was pretty hot and the kids were having a lot of fun wading in the water and playing on a huge fallen log that they called their ship. Mud Volcano turned out to be pretty cool. Their were several different kinds of natural occurrences there, and each one of them were unique and interesting. You could get very close to each one because you walked on a boardwalk through the area. One bubbled up boiling mud, one was a constant steaming, rushing fountain of water into the air, one had a cave and as the water thrashed around and gases were released, it sounded like a dragon roaring. It was so interesting. In the same area there was an entire hillside of dead trees that didn't look burnt. We wondered why they were killed, and found out it was because after an earthquake, the hillside heated up so hot it killed everything growing on it. What a strange occurrence!

Mud Volcano. Temperature 184°F, Dimensions 27x36 feet, Depth 17 feet.

Mud Geyser. It steams and hisses, but hasn't errupted since 1927. It used to shoot mud 50 feet into the air at regular intervals. The sign warns that they do not know if it will go off again, but that it could at any time.

Churning Cauldron.

Once everyone was done fishing and eating, we piled back into the cars and continued down the road. Our next stop was the historic Fishing Bridge which is located where Yellowstone Lake flows into Yellowstone River . The original log bridge was built in 1902 and rebuilt 1937. It was where everyone fished back in those days, but it is now closed to fishing because it is the major spawning area for wild trout. When we were there, we could view quite a few large fish along the bottom of the river.

We continued on and reached Lake Village, where we got icecream and then continued on to Bridge Bay. Bridge Bay has a marina with boat rentals so we decided to rent three boats and set out on Yellowstone Lake for a couple of hours.

The Mr.

If you want to see any videos of
our boating trip, there are a few! Go to
the album at the bottom of the page.

Huge Pelican

When we got back, we all felt like swimming so we jumped into the cold water at the mouth of the marina. The park advises against swimming in the lake because of hypothermia, but it didn't feel cold once you got used to the water. Of course, isn't that what happens with hypothermia? It really was not as cold as we thought it would be. We all made it safe and sound and the water was so refreshing. After much talk about what to do for supper, we ended up going back to the little place at Lake Village where we had earlier ordered icecream. They had a cafe there that served pulled pork sandwiches, hotdogs, milkshakes and salads and it was quite good.

On the way back to The Canyon area after supper, our three vehicles got held up in several bison jams. Lance had been complaining about them earlier and the rest of us just laughed at how much it drove him crazy. Now we understand! I enjoyed every second of each bison jam, because they were excellent opportunities to see the huge animals close up, and take a lot of videos and pictures. It was a really cool experience. The Bison move to different areas during the day but they don't keep a schedule! They do what they want, whenever they want.

Here is the video I took of the bison swarming our vehicle. Watch it to the end if you want to hear how bad the bison at the end of the video scared me.

That night we all met at our campsite for s'mores, a bible reading and a hymn sing. Singing around a campfire is one of my favorite things, so it was a great ending to a great day.

The Day 2 Album:
Yellowstone Day 2


  1. Thanks Chatty for letting me get in on the things I missed on the trip!I knew your pictures would be almost as good as being there. Now I have seen the Mud Volcano and the boat trip- and re-lived some of the other experiences!GREAT pictures!MIL

  2. Hey - looks like fun! I liked the video of the bison road jam - freaky!

  3. Hey! I'm answering your question here so you will see it, too! Washers is a fabulous lawn game that involves tossing washers onto a target board. It is a lovely bbq diversion and was introduced to us by our Dickson side of the family. I'll write a post (soon, I hope) with pics and a full description + rules so you can check it out! it is so much fun, and very portable.


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