Yellowstone | Sheepeater | Geysers | Lower Falls

by Jim and Melanie

Our second full day in Yellowstone National Park was an active one. We arrived early at the north entrance at Gardiner and waited in line behind a few other vehicles. A mother elk came down a nearby hillside followed by her calf, young, wobbly legged and slow. She took her time and allowed it to stay close. Traffic stopped as they crossed. It was a wonderful start to the day.

Sheepeater Cliff

We passed the Mammoth Hot Springs where we’d hiked to the beaver ponds two days before. A few miles south of the springs we came to the Sheepeater Cliff of basalt columns. Our greeter sat at a picnic table munching some pine nuts while we explored the cliff.

And then there were the awesome rocks. A short one-way side road detour took us through these big ones.

 

Norris Geyser Basin

Eventually we reached our first major hike of the day. The geyser basin trails are on solid ground or wooden walkways. It is dangerous to venture off the trail. A recent victim was never recovered after his sister watched him fall into a hot spring. We stayed safely on the trails enjoying the beautiful colors and steam vents under the clear blue sky.

 

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River

From Norris we drove east to Canyon Village in time for lunch. The village near the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River is indicated on this map. The falls drop 308 feet to the canyon below. To see the falls up close, we walked a trail and descended some 600 feet down near their brink. The trail had at least a dozen switchbacks with resting spots at the end of each traverse. The hike was well worth the effort.

Looking straight down at noon, we saw this beautiful rainbow.

Across the canyon is the metal staircase Uncle Tom’s Trail. It descends 500 ft via 328 steps. We wanted to take that route. But the parking lot was closed.

 

We continued north from Canyon Village on the Grand Loop Road. The gain in altitude and continual curves in the road made a scenic viewpoint a welcome place to stop for a break. A large rock gave us a convenient place to show our appreciation for the beauty of the area.

The road looped west again toward Mammoth Hot Springs. We watched for more wildlife and were rewarded with two black bears and a coyote. We thought we saw a wolf at one spot but could not be certain.

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15 thoughts on “Yellowstone | Sheepeater | Geysers | Lower Falls

    1. Jim R Post author

      Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. Yes there is a lot of ‘good stuff still going strong’. There is a good story behind that quilt of Iowa at the top. Melanie should be the one to tell it.

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  1. Anne

    I loved all these photos and the explanation of the quilt design, the elks are very special too. It looks a great trip.
    I’ve been walking in the Yorkshire Dales today around Grassington, looking at the old mines and thinking of the hard lives the mines must have experienced.
    Walking back to the car we heard a strange sounding baa baa from behind a wall and on investigation found a lamb very entangled in wire and couldn’t move. It took two of us to hold him and,luckily we had some some wire cutters in our rucksack, and managed to free him. He then quickly found his mum and all was well. He was way up on the moors so he wouldn’t have lasted long.
    A good end to a Sunday walk.

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    1. Jim R Post author

      Hello Anne. Good to hear from you again.

      I had to look on a map to find the Dales and Grassington. I see the Lake District is close by.

      That lamb was fortunate to have you come by. We were canoeing a river years ago and found a fawn had fallen into a hole in the bank of the river. We got it out and returned to solid ground. It made us feel good.

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  2. BJ Good

    You had a very full day to be able to hike and see so much. Not being able to take the 328 step staircase down [& back up] doesn’t seem to have hurt your experience in Yellowstone. The video of the Norris Geyser Basin was rewarding for me to see. I thought of what it must have been like for the early explorers & settlers of the West in the 1800’s to come upon this land with so many surprises.

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    1. Melanie McNeil

      So much of the West must have been surprising, I think. Those from British Isles and even eastern US wouldn’t experienced mountains such as these before. Add in the animals and the geysers to create a very new experience!

      I really did want to do the staircase. On our last visit in 2010, we intended to take the stairs but a lightning storm came up. The metal stairway seemed like a bad place to be!

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  3. shoreacres

    Such wonderful photos. I especially like the young elk and the falls — and your previous good judgment to stay off the metal staircase during lightning! There seem to be more reports every year of people getting into trouble in places like Yellowstone. Selfies play a role, but so does an almost adolescent “it can’t happen to me” attitude. I’m glad you’re smart, and that you brought back these delights for us. I enjoyed them very much.

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    1. Jim R Post author

      I never knew about the Devil’s Postpile. After looking it up I see now why Sheepeater reminded you of it. Interesting places all over the country and world.

      Thank you for stopping by. Come again.

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