by Jim and Melanie
Highlights of day 4 of our journey to Yellowstone NP. We stayed overnight after day 3 in Thermopolis, Wyoming. The hot springs there were an attraction to the native residents for centuries. Today they are a tourist attraction. We soaked for a while in the free state park pool. Others cavorted in the commercial facility next door. The flow rate of the springs is much less than in the past.
We headed north to Cody after breakfast. From Cody, Yellowstone visitors usually drive west to enter the park. We chose to drive northwest and enter the park at the Northeast Entrance near Cooke City, Montana at the top center of this map. Later that evening we checked into a B&B north of the park. Click to embiggen for detail.
There were many twists and turns along this little traveled route. We were presented with beautiful views with every stretch of road. Clouds drifted by, rain shafts painted valleys, the sun peeked through. Here are but a few of those views.
One of the more impressive peaks we watched during a lunch break was Pilot Peak. The clouds drifted slowly over it.
Soon after driving through Cooke City, we came to the Northeast Entrance to the park. Built in 1935 and listed as a national historic landmark in 1987, the entrance:
“subconsciously reinforced the visitor’s sense of the western frontier and the wilderness he was about to enter. The building was not only the physical boundary, but the psychological boundary between the rest of the world and what was set aside as a permanently wild place.”
The road along the northern border of the park weaved back and forth between Montana and Wyoming then turned south toward the Lamar River Valley, an area rich with wildlife. We stopped to enjoy the Soda Butte Creek tributary as it flowed by.
Every river we saw was running full. The snowfall last winter was abundant. Melt and spring rains have kept them filled.
Bison were plentiful in the Lamar Valley. This panorama shows them spread over a wide range. Next is a closeup of one near the road. Do NOT get out to approach them for a better shot. Lots of signs and brochures tell visitors to not be stupid.
Our road intersected with the Grand Loop Road at Tower Junction, home of Roosevelt Lodge. We intended to turn left toward Tower Fall. But, all traffic had to stop for a while for another kind of traffic.
After the visit to Tower Fall, we were on our way toward Mammoth Hot Springs. We noticed some cars had stopped. That usually meant wildlife. We looked up the hillside about 200 meters away and spotted a black object in a field of yellow flowers. I photographed it with all the zoom my camera could do. Melanie said ‘we might as well head home now. We saw our bear.’ We shook our heads and thought there must be a lot more to see and do.