Grand Teton National Park

Teton Range from shore of Jenny Lake

Today was all about Grand Teton National Park.  Teton is all about alpine view with pristine lakes and tall jagged peaks; very different from all the volcanic features of Yellowstone.  The view of Teton range from Jenny Lake is the most spectacular of the park.  We actually did the drive 3 times.  The lighting was all wrong the first time.  The above photo was taken on the second drive.  We had to repeat the drive again because we were trying to go to the lodge for lunch but it was full.  So we had our lunch with a view at the parking lot.  All the drives were well worth it.

Teton Range from Signal Mountain

The above view was from the top of Signal Mountain.  As mountain goes, Signal Mountain is not that tall (it does have a cell tower on top) but it is the 180 degrees view that is impressive.  One can see the big open countryside and again there is the Teton Range.  What was really impressive was the silence.  We all stood there, gazing at the scene, no one said a word.  Furthermore, there was none of this endless photos of me-and-the-mountain.  For once, we forgot the endless selfies.

Yes, the rain is coming

As some of you are aware, there was a drought covering the entire western North America.  It looks like the long awaited rain has finally arrived. We dodged rain for the last couple of days and there is snow predicted for Saturday.  I understand that precipitation is really important but just a slight delay by a couple of days would be perfect.

This is the end of this holiday.  We are driving back to Salt Lake City, most likely in the rain.  However that is much better than the original forecast which calls for 6 inches of snow.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

We managed to squeeze in a hike today, in addition to driving and playing tourists.  The target destination today was Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  It really is not the Grand Canyon but a small part of the river valley does remind me of the real thing and Bryce NP.  It is a canyon  with steep sides and part of it is composed of multicolored rocks.  There is also this impermanence, i.e. things are crumbling apart in front of my eyes, that shouts Bryce to me.

Part of the hike is along the rim of the canyon.  That is really jaw droppingly beautiful; a new view of the different colors and view of the canyon around every corner.  The rest of the hike was okay; through evergreen forest with shade, good trails, and not too steep.  The end destination was Ribbon Lake; very much remind me of lakes in Gatineau Park.  I did not even bother taking photos.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

There are a couple of major waterfalls in this section of Yellowstone River.  It is almost impossible to take decent photos of the Upper Fall because the lookouts are either too far or right on top.  The lower fall is another matter.  The lighting is about perfect when we were there and the lookouts were at the right place; no complaint from me.

Just a few more ho-hum views

First, I would like to explain the title.  I hike with Wednesday Walkers in Gatineau Park.  New hikers are always interested in knowing where they are, i.e. the name of the place.  One day. Someone asked about a beautiful nameless lookout; the reply was “Ho-Hum”.

Yellostone NP is a very large place with a surprising large variety of landscape.  It is not unusual to have a complete change within a minute of driving.  Today, we drove and explored for about 9 hours and only covered a small portion of the park.

Madison valley, Yellowstone

The Madison River valley is the transportation corridor when entering from the west gate.  The contrast between prairie grass, trees, rocks, and stream was just beautiful with clear morning lighting.

Artist Paintpot, Yellowstone

Regardless of the official name, the above is full of steam from the geysers and hot springs.  It is a bit erie even without apparitions floating out of the mists.

Yellowstone River canyon

Yellowstone got its name from the Yellowstone River.  This photo was taken from a quick stop beside the road, looking at something else.  It is completely unexpected.

Canary Spring, Yellowstone

I love my friend Rolland’s reaction when he saw this.  He wanted to know “what planet are we on”.  I have seen something similar in Turkey but nothing this pristine and white with attached thermophile bacteria to provide some color.  The white is calcium carbonate.  The hot water from deep in Earth will carry dissolved minerals to the surface.  As it cools, calcium carbonate precipitates out forming the white color and the shape.  Absolutely beautiful.

Old Faithful Area, Yellostone NP

Yesterday started with a long drive, heading north from from Salt Lake City, through Idaho, to Montana.  It took 5 hours.  Like most of the roads in the centre of USA, it is in good condition and practically empty until close to Yellowstone. After a quick lunch, we went back into the car to explore the Old Faithful area of Yellowstone.

Old Faithful, the image of Yellowstone

I will admit that I was ready not to be impressed by Old Faithful; I have heard too much and seen too many photos of this geyser.  But, it was impressive.  The crowd was not as large as the summer months but there is sufficient number to act as a scale.  The photo was taken from a lookout above the geyser.

Beehive Geyser

i never thought about it but there are other geysers in Yellowstone. It is all a matter of the right place at the right time; with most geysers, there is no prediction of when the event will happen.  The Beehive Geyser is not far from the Old Faithful.  It erupted when we were walking around the area.  I was too busy taking photos to time it, but the show continued for a while.  The spectators in the photo all got wet because the boardwalk was wet when we walked by 15 minutes later.

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring

My favorite volcanic feature has to be the thermophile bacterial. I don’t know the names as there are different kind to produce different colors.  The patches of white, which contrast beautifully, is usually salt.

One unexpected treasure of Yellowstone is the landscape.  Yes, there are lots of trees but also shallow rivers/streams.  The combination of grassland/prairie, streams, and mountains in the crisp cool air is just beautiful.

Along the Madison River

Yes, it was a very long day.  It was 12 hours between departing Salt Lake City and arriving at our cabin in West Yellowstone, and we were in 4 states; but it was all worth it; so I say.


Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City, is the starting point of my Yellowstone National Park trip.  It is the Centre of the Mormon World but it does not a place where one spend a lot of time.  There is cheap airfare to get here and a reasonable driving distance to Yellostone.  Me?  I am here with my friend Anna and Rolland, and we were waiting for my niece Fiona from Taiwan.

Yes, there is not a lot of tourist sites.  The Mormon temple looks like it is made of concrete blocks but is actually made of granite.  But as a non-member, we cannot go in.  There is a lovely garden around it and Saturday is a big wedding day.  It was quiet today with only 25 or so.  Some busy Saturday sees over 50 weddings; and these are all individual ceremonies.  There is a free organ recital in the tabernacle and that was impressive.  I always thought organ music as heavy but the organist demonstrated the lighter range of the organ; very enjoyable.  Too bad the choir did not performing today.

The Tabernacle is the performing venue for the famous choir

We drove up to the Utah state legislative building in the evening and it is impressive.  First of all, it is large, much larger than I expected.  Second, it is a people place; people just walk around, enjoying the nice evening.  The inside is also impressive and is available for receptions.  The best part is that I saw 1 security gard the whole time I was there; contrast that to Parliament Hill.

Utah state legislative building.

finally, I want to say that everyone we met is friendly, helpful, and chatty.  I am not sure of the reason but it was a really enjoyable day.  Off to Yellowstone tomorrow.