Animals, the Grand Canyon, and a Steak Cookout
Yellowstone National Park Travel Blog› entry 7 of 13 › view all entries
After a very satisfying breakfast at Hamilton's, we finished loading our car, checked out of Old Faithful Inn and headed for Hayden Valley between Lake and Canyon. The drive up was uneventful; we made a short stop at the Lake area, drove past the hotel which is probably the fanciest-looking one in the park.
We approached Hayden Valley with anticipation; viewing the animals is one of our favorite parts of visiting Yellowstone, and we hadn't seen very many yet. However, we drove through several miles of the valley without spotting anything more exciting than a few geese. Then we came upon our first herd of bison/buffalo. This group wandered close to road; in fact, several of them decided to cross the road while we were watching.
We did a little bit of back-tracking in order to tour the Mud Volcano/Sulphur Caldron area. The "mud" and "sulphur" in the names describe the area very well; the most difficult part of the trail probably is dealing with the smell. Formations here feature names such as "Black Dragon's Caldron," "Sour Lake," and "Dragon's Mouth."
At Canyon we grabbed food in the cafeteria and then my mom started a load at the laundromat at the campground.
Once the laundry was done, we took advantage of the remaining time before needing to drive up to Roosevelt for the cookout to tour the North Rim of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Now this canyon is not as big as the Grand Canyon in Arizona but it is still impressive and definitely beautiful. (Plus, since it is on a smaller scale, it is easier to see the walls and the river.) We followed the North Rim trail for a ways and then at Lookout Point continued down into the canyon through a series of switchbacks for a slightly closer view of the Lower Falls.
Each year that we have visited Yellowstone National Park, we have repeated certain activities: watching Old Faithful erupt, looking for the bison herds in Hayden Valley, hiking in the Canyon. Another tradition is the Old West Cookout where we load into stagecoaches (some guests choose to ride horseback) and travel a little ways off the beaten path for an evening of food and music. On the ride one of the two guides fills the wagon passengers in on the history of the park and the specific valley where the cookout is held. The dinner this year offered steak (or for the vegetarian, a veggie burger), corn, baked beans, cornbread muffins, watermelon, coleslaw, potato salad, and fruit crisp.
We arrived back at Roosevelt Lodge before dark; however, rain was threatening once more as we started back to Canyon. We made a quick stop at the Calcite Spring Overlook but did not venture far down the path as lightning decided to make an appearance (we did not think being on an exposed height was our best idea).