This morning we woke up feeling very excited because we were finally going to Yellowstone National Park. To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect from Yellowstone, but I knew that we were on the Yellowstone Tour so I guessed that it was something worth seeing. All I knew was that it was a huge park (it extends into several states), and that’s its popular for campers and tourists.
I remember the very first time I heard about Yellowstone National Park. It was back in the 4th grade and our Science teacher was talking about volcanoes. It brought us to the topic of geysers, so of course he had to tell us about the most famous geyser of all – Old Faithful. I’ve wanted to see it since then, and now I was finally going to.
We were a good 450 miles away from the park, so this meant spending several hours on the bus again
Passing the time by watching videos and listening to music
Just like the previous day, my view from the window consisted of lots of empty fields and a few farm houses
We made a few pit stops along the way, as usual. The pictures below were taken at one of them. We were the first bus to arrive so we managed to get in and out of the bathroom without the long lines. We used the extra time we had to stretch our legs.
Our group stopped at a gas station for lunch. There weren’t that many food choices so we ended up having fast food again
I gained so much weight and broke out like crazy on this trip because of all the unhealthy food we were eating (Thank goodness for Photoshop’s healing tools)
After a few more hours on the road, we made it to Yellowstone National Park:
Our bus stopped to let us take pictures with the Roosevelt Arch, which was one of the many entrances to the park. (Like I said, this place is HUGE.) This one is at the North Entrance in Montana. We were wondering why half of our group went the other direction, away from the arch, but we later found out that there was a huge sign that says “Yellowstone National Park” a few meters away. The other buses were blocking it from view so we didn’t see it. We only spotted it after we were back on the bus and by then it was too late to go back down to take photos. But at least we managed to take some nice pictures with the arch:
After spending the several hours on the bus, it felt nice to be able to walk around, so we ran around the field nearby and took a few photos
Ezra was trying to copy the Sound of Music meme in this shot. (Click HERE if you have no idea what I’m talking about). Pretty close right? XD
Back on the bus, Tim handed out some maps of the park
He also gave us some brochures which shows some of the wildlife people might encounter in the park. As you know, I’m terrible with animals so Ezra tried to give me a quick zoology lesson. She gave up after a few minutes after declaring that I was hopeless T__T
Tim also gave us some facts about Yellowstone. He told us that most of the park is located in the state of Wyoming, but some parts of it are in Montana (where we were) and Idaho territory. There are many lakes, mountains and rivers in the park, as well as a number of interesting wildlife, making it a popular place for campers, bikers, hikers and tourists. There are a lot of geothermal activity in the area, mainly due to the Yellowstone Caldera (AKA the “Yellowstone Supervolcano”). As a result, the park houses several mudpots and geysers. One of the most popular is of course Old Faithful.
Our tour took us to Mammoth Hot Springs to see some mineral deposits brought about by the volcanic activity in the park. When we got off the bus, we found these fellas resting in the shade
We were free to take photos but we weren’t allowed to approach them. A lot of the animals you will see in the park as used to people walking around, but they’re far from domesticated. They won’t chase after you, but if you get too close then there’s no telling what they might do.
After a quick run to the rest room to peel off some of the layer of clothes we were wearing (it was cold when we left Wyoming that morning, but it was nice and warm in Yellowstone), we headed over to see the mineral deposits
Tim didn’t get the chance to explain what these were, but according to some websites I visited, they’re limestone deposits. They somehow managed to form these neat little terraces.
We also saw this cone-like thing in the area:
It’s called the Liberty Cap
It’s another structure which formed due to the continuous deposition of minerals as the hot spring water cooled. There was a fence around it so we couldn’t get close, but it’s supposedly around 11m tall.
As I mentioned earlier, Yellowstone is a popular place for bikers and hikers. There are a lot of trails that you can follow in the area. The Beaver Ponds Trail is one of them, and it starts at the Mammoth Hot Springs.
On our way back to the bus we found a bison grazing in the nearby field:
Back on the bus, Tim shared more stories about Yellowstone National Park. He told us that in the old days, people didn’t know about geysers and geothermal activity, so they couldn’t explain why all the steam came from the ground. Supposedly, one man was brave enough to go into the park (back when it was uncharted territory) to see what was in there. When he came out, he told people that a monster lived inside the park (well, I suppose it wasn’t a park yet at the time), and it followed him around wherever he went. The “monster” lived under the ground and occasionally made growling noises. It breathed steam which rose high up into the air. And no matter where the man went, he could hear the beast growling underneath him and see its breath rising from the ground, following him. Poor guy must have been so freaked.
Outside our window we saw these dead trees on the ground due to a forest fire:
The park officials leave them where they are and allow them to naturally decompose
Tim told us that forest fires occasionally occur in the park. Some are caused by tourist, but most of them occur naturally when lighting strikes. In the past, the people were really scared by the fires and did their best to stop them the moment they started, but they soon realized that it’s a natural part of the ecosystem. The fires clears out small areas of the forest, especially the small plants beneath the canopy. With these smaller plants gone, the larger trees get more nutrients. Also, over time, the ash becomes fertilizer for the trees.
We also saw some snow from our window, which I found strange because it wasn’t that cold outside
Our bus driver dropped us off at the start of the Fountain Paint Pot Nature Trail
It’s a pretty short trail (less than a mile long) on a boardwalk. As we walked around we saw lots of sign of hydrothermal activity such as hot springs, geysers, mud pots and fumaroles.