S: Colorado Springs, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons Vacation July 2011
BC: Yellowstone National Park Facts: * World's First National Park 2,219,789 acres. (Larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.) * Wildlife - 7 species of ungulates (bison, moose, elk, pronghorn), 2 species of bear and 67 other mammals, 322 species of birds, 16 species of fish and of course the gray wolf. * Plants - There are over 1,100 species of native plants, more than 200 species of exotic plants and over 400 species of thermopholes. * Geology - The park is home to one of the world's largest calderas with over 10,000 thermal features and more than 300 geysers. It has one of the world's largest petrifiied forests. It has over 290 waterfalls with the 308' Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River as its showpiece. * Yellowstone Lake is the largest (132 sq. mi.) high altitude (7,732') lake in North America. (It is a natural lake, not man-made.) | FOR THE BENEFIT AND ENJOYMENT OF THE PEOPLE
FC: Yellowstone 2011
1: Day 1 Saturday July 16 We left around 8:30am for Colorado Springs, CO. The Suburban was loaded up to the ceiling with luggage, food, gear, an ice chest, toys, books, diapers, and presents for Ben and Isaac. | Montana | All the states we visited.
2: Along the way, we stopped to take a break and came across this historic ranch office in Channing, TX. "The XIT Ranch was a cattle ranch in the Texas Panhandle which operated from 1885 to 1912. Comprising over 3,000,000 acres. However timing was bad for the XIT as cattle prices crashed in 1886 and 1887. By 1905 most of the ranch had been sold off." | Day 2 Sunday, July 17. We dressed the kids alike, and went to church with Daniel and Micah. | After church we grilled hamburgers. That afternoon, Clark and Daniel took the big kids to the playground down the street.
3: That night, we got two girls to babysit all the monkeys. We went out to dinner near the Garden of the Gods, then hiked around a little.
5: Day 3 The Suburban had been cutting out on the way up, so we took it to get it worked on (new fuel pump), rented a car, and went to the America the Beutiful Park to play and have a picnic.
6: Steph crashes on the couch. But Elizabeth still has some wigglies in her.
7: That night, Micah made these delicious homemade, grilled pizzas! We had ice cream for dessert.
9: Asher and Ben took a bath together that night. We had a big day, and we were all very smelly and tired.
10: Day 4 We went to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. We had a great time, and got to interact with a lot of animals. This is one of the best zoos I've ever been to. We actually touched a giraffe, chickens, and a tortise. The kids loved visiting the gorillas. Asher called him the "ooh ooh ahh ahh."
11: That night we went out to eat at "the bear restaurant." I did laundry, and got our stuff together for the next day.
12: Day 5 On the road again! We headed north for Wyoming.
13: We happened by the Oregon Trail so we stopped and walked around. We saw ruts in the ground that wagons made as they made their way west.
15: Back on the road. Time for some naps. I love that sound. | We drove for several hours through a lot of nothing. But by late afternoon, we started to see mountains!
16: The drive is starting to get interesting. We go through one tunnel. Then another. | We stopped to take pictures, and someone spotted a wolf (or coyote?) walking down the railroad tracks. Katie with her drawing. She worked on this for hours in the Suburban.
17: antelope several elk | On our way to Cody WY where we spent the night, we saw our first wildlife! A herd of elk and an antelope! We stopped for pizza in some tiny town. There was a pretend jail just outside.
18: Day 6 We left Cody, Wyoming, got gas and groceries, and drove to Yellowstone!
19: A few miles into the park, we stopped to let the kids play in the snow. And spotted this cannon pointed at the road. We then drove by Lake Yellowstone, and saw our first thermal feature - steam vents in the lake.
20: BUFFALO! We see our first buffalo in a meadow. Beth finds a ladybug. We stopped by the lake to have a picnic lunch.
21: Once we got around Lake Yellowstone we stopped at West Thumb, went to the visitor center, and then walked around the geyser basin there.
24: Old Faithful Inn | souvenirs | Old Faithful facts It shoots boiling water up to an average height of 145 feet. It erupts about every 90 minutes, and lasts for about 3 minutes. About 25,000 people watch it erupt every day in the summer.
25: Old Faitful Geyesr
26: Day 7 We drove in a big circle from our cabin at Old Faithful north west, toward the Canyon area, then south to Old Faithful. We stopped at several geyser basins, and took the drive around the north rim of the canyon. | Look, under the boardwalk!
27: We saw the old historic restored tour buses along the Firehole Lake Drive. They were built in the 1930's and were refurbished. White Dome Geyser 188 degrees, spews water 10-30 ft high. We came across this buffalo walking down the road. When I drove past him, the kids rolled their windows down and squealed in delight!
28: Firehole Falls
29: The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Lower Falls. The canyon is up to 900 feet deep and a half mile wide. Lower falls is 308 feet high.
32: winds and drought and combined into one large conflagration, which burned for several months. The fires almost destroyed two major visitor destinations. Only the arrival of cool and moist weather in the late autumn brought the fires to an end. A total of 793,880 acres or 36 percent of the park was affected by the wildfires. Many of Yellowstone’s plant species are fire-adapted. Some (not all) of the lodgepole pines (Pinus contorta), which make up nearly 80% of the park’s extensive forests, have cones that are serotinous sealed by resin until the intense heat of fire cracks the bonds and releases the seeds inside. Though above-ground parts of grasses and forbs are consumed by flames, the below-ground root systems typically remain unharmed, and for a few years after fire these plants commonly increase in productivity. By September 11, 1988, the first snows of autumn had dampened the fires as the nation’s largest fire-fighting effort could not. Now, 23 years later, the lodgepole pines have returned. Here you can see the difference in their height before the fire, and now. | The 1988 Fire The Yellowstone fires of 1988 together formed the largest wildfire in the recorded history of the U.S.'s Yellowstone National Park. Starting as many smaller individual fires, the flames spread quickly out of control with increasing
33: Virginia Cascades tumbles 60 feet over a relatively gradual slope into a deep canyon. The falls are just a few feet from the roadway, and there are only a few places where cars can pull off the narrow roadway to observe the falls.
34: At the end of the day, we watched Old Faithful erupt one more time. Katie drew this picture. | This was our last of two nights we stayed at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge (in a "cabin", which was basically a hotel room).
35: Temp: 199 276 x 328 ft. Excelsior was once the largest geyser In the world. (And there are a lot of hats in it.) | Day 8 Katie helped me load up the car. We moved to the Canyon Village cabins that night.
36: Grand Prismatic Spring The largest hot spring in the United States, and the third largest in the world. From above, it looks like a prism.
37: Fountain Paint Pot is one of many mudpots found in the park. In early summer the mudpots are thin and watery from abundant rain and snow. By late summer they are quite thick. The mud is composed of clay minerals and fine particles of silica. In this area the rock is rhyolite, which is composed primarily of quartz and feldspar. Acids in the steam and water break down the feldspar into a clay mineral called kaolinite.
38: I think those are buffalo tracks in the mud. | Clepsydra Geyser
39: Red Spouter, which originated with the Hebgen Lake earthquake, exhibits the behavior of fumaroles, hot springs and mudpots. In the spring and early summer its pools splash muddy water that sometimes has a red tone. Later in the summer and fall, when the water table is lower, Red Spouter becomes a hissing fumarole. This thing was loud! Definitely a hissing fumarole.
40: They were doing an archaelogical dig here, and the lady showed us this object she found. Between 2,000 - 10,000 years old. It's not an arrowhead, it's older. It's a dartpoint. It has a curved edge on one side because it was later recycled into a knife. Made of obsidian. | We stopped to eat lunch here.
44: Gibbon Falls - drops 80 feet. You can see it from the road.
46: Mammoth Hot Springs It was hard to get a good picture of this beautiful place because it was so white, and so bright outside. The step-like terraces form as heated water moves along the Morris-Mammoth Fault. The hot water carries dissolved calcium and bicarbonate to the surface of the terraces where pressure lessens. Carbon dioxide then escapes as gas and the carbonate combines with calcium to precipitate as travertine. | Bright colored cyano-bacteria and algae mats which were dependent upon a stable temperature and a flow of water change as the micro-organisms die creating a stark, bleak landscape.
49: The Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces, as we were leaving, driving down into the village. The Upper Terrace Drive.
50: When we were done seeing the hot springs, we drove north to the north entrance of the park, and the famous gate. Which is just inside Montana. Apparently, the elk really like to hang out here. at Mammoth Hot Springs.
51: Day 9 - We spent the next two nights at the Canyon Village. That morning, we got up and headed north towards the Tower -Roosevelt area. The drive was just beautiful. Here, you can see the canyon, and beyond that, the Absaroka Mountain range.
54: We took a 1 hour stagecoach ride! They are replica "Tally-ho" stage-coaches. The originals were used in the park until 1916 when cars were introduced. Samuel even got to sit on top - the tally-ho seat. The horses names were Jim and Jack.
56: Years ago, there were two petrified trees here. After souvenir hunters destroyed one petrified tree, the remaining one was enclosed by an iron fence in 1907.
57: Asher figured out how to make a carebear ride a pony.
58: Undine Falls | We ate a picnic lunch here. The kids had fun bouncing on this fallen tree.
59: Undine Falls. About 60 feet in height, descending in three plunges.
60: This black blob is actually a bear! Beth was the only one who saw it, as the other kids were asleep.
61: Our last stop of the day we went back to the canyon for one last look. | We asked someone to take our picture, but they cut out the falls! So here is what it should have looked like.
62: Day 10 We left our room at Canyon Village and headed south toward the Grand Tetons! On the way, we stopped in the valley between Canyon Village and Lake Village. While we were stopped, we saw a big herd of elk come running out of the woods. | Several people there had fancy binoculars, and someone saw a wolf chasing the elk. We heard a cry, and the wolf had captured a baby elk for it's meal. We stayed there for 30 minutes or so, it was just all so amazing!
63: We pass another buffalo. But Asher is oblivous... We pass Lake Yellowstone one more time.
64: Goodbye Yellowstone National Park... We head south to the Grand Teton National Park. You can see the mountains peeking out of this valley.
65: Lake Jackson
66: The Grand Tetons from Lake Jackson
67: Grand Teton is the highest mountain in Wyoming.
68: We went on a hike near Jenny Lake. | Katie finds a ladybug.
69: Asher absolutely loved this hike. He walked the whole way (about 1/2 mile). So of course I had to take his picture 6 times... | Beth finds an inchworm.
70: When we were in Yellowstone, the kids asked what happens to the trees that fall in the forest. There were lots of dead trees because of the fire. Why don't they haul them off? So I had to stop and explain how trees decay and turn into soil and provide nutrients for the baby trees.
71: Samuel took a better picture of Daddy than Daddy took of Samuel.
73: For the next two nights, we stayed in a cabin on Lower Slide Lake, just outside of Grand Teton National Park. There was a fun loft for the kids, | two bedrooms, and even a washer and dryer (because by then we were almost out of clean clothes!) | A beaver!
74: Day 11. We got up early and headed to Jackson Hole to meet a group to take us on a scenic float down the Snake River. The mountains were just beautiful in the morning light!
75: We were on the river before 9am, in hopes of seeing some wildlife, and bald eagles. Our guide's name was Clark! We stopped here for a while to have hot chocolate and muffins. And throw rocks in the river!
78: We saw about 6 bald eagles on this float trip. We even saw an eagle swoop down towards the river, pluck out a fish, and carry it to the bank to eat it! I even caught it on video! | At the end of the trip, Katherine and Elizabeth examine the rocks they collected. Asher and Daddy wait while they load our raft.
79: After the float trip, we had 2 hours to eat lunch and look around at some shops in Jackson Hole. We bought each of the kids real coon-skin caps! Then had pizza. We then headed just outside of town to Spring Ranch to take a 1 hour horse back ride! | Eating pizza. Samuel took this picture. | Watching some dogs romp while waiting for our horse-back ride.
80: Saddling up! I don't think our kids could have smiled any bigger. They weren't a bit worried or scared.
81: Even though Asher slept through half of the horse ride, he totally loved it! Even a month later, whenever we would see a horse, Asher would say "I wanna wide-a hoisie!" We rode on this hill and from the top you could see the Tetons to our left and the town of Jackson Hole and a valley to our right.
82: Clark and I each had a camera, and between the two of us, we took 102 pictures of this horse ride!
83: After a short roping lesson, we went back to town to get some groceries, then back to the cabin. Clark cooked us up some mouth-watering steaks, and the kids discovered the game of Uno!
84: After dinner, we went on a walk around the lake, saw an osprey nest, and lots of mosquitos. The next morning, the kids found an abandoned birds nest. Katie carefuly placed it in a pine tree for other birds to use. Day 12 We left our cabin and headed for home. We took it slow, stopped a lot, and so it took us 4 days to get home.
86: We drove south through Wyoming and passed through Idaho for a few minutes, then back into Wyoming and later into Utah. We stopped on the side of the road to collect a few rocks from an ancient beach. We passed many old log cabins, some used as shelters for horses.
87: Driving along I 80, between Evanston, WY and Ft Briger, WY.
88: Driving through southern Wyoming.
89: Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area in north-east Utah.
90: Just north of Flaming Gorge, we stopped to walk around a little.
91: Driving through northwest Utah. We stopped for the night in Vernal, Utah. | Day 13 We continued on our journey. Goodbye Utah, and hello Colorado! We drove near Dinosaur National Monument in northwest Colorado, and saw a lot of cool uplifted rock formations in Utah, and Colorado.
92: We stopped for lunch in Aspen, CO. There was a cool play-ground where we ate some McDonalds and let the kids play. Afterwards we got them chocolate, candy coated marsh-mallows. I think we made some happy kids!
93: We then headed east to Independence Pass. On our way we discovered this ghost town. "At over 10,900 feet, this town couldn't last long. Snow from October through May would make sure of it. gold was discovered here on July 4, 1879 and soon after a town of 300 sprang up. By 1882, there were 1500 residents and over 40 businesses. Known by other names also, Chipeta, Mammouth City, Mount Hope, Farwell and Sparkill, Independence only produced about $190,000 in ore and was a ghost town by 1890."
97: Elizabeth collected an armful (and a hoodie full) of rocks.
98: Independence Pass | E
99: Driving east, down from Independence Pass towards Leadville, where we spent the night. Mt Elbert, (the peak on the right) is the tallest mountain in Colorado. Steph climbed South Elbert (the shorter peak on the left) in 1993. Day 14 We stopped at a rock shop just outside of Leadville. We spent the night in Amarillo, TX and arrived home in Abilene the next day (Day 15).