During the last full month of September, My wife and I decided to get out of town and spend a couple of days in Yellowstone National Park. Annie had ordered a cabin for us online at Mammoth Hot Springs.
Early Sunday morning, we loaded up our grandson and Annie’s small lapdog and headed for Yellowstone. We stopped in Ashton to top off our fuel tank and purchase three small bottles of milk to drink with some blueberry muffins we took for breakfast.
The drive into the mountains and the trip through Island Park was beautiful as always. We drove through the area of Henry’s Fork and were able to see a little of Hebgen Lake from the highway.
As we pulled in to West Yellowstone, we decided we had more than enough fuel to drive on through the park to Mammoth. The drive to Madison Junction was really pretty, and we saw bison on the road and an elk herd in the meadows that the Madison River runs through. At Madison, we stopped for about 15 minutes to stretch our legs, take advantage of the restrooms and give the dog some water, as well as let him walk around a little bit.
From Madison, we turned left toward Gibbon Falls, the lower and upper Gibbon Meadows and Norris Geyser Basin. Norris was packed, and the line of cars trying to get into a parking spot was so long, it took us about 15 minutes to even reach the parking lot. It took another 10 minutes to find a parking spot. Norris Geyser Basin is really interesting, especially if you take the time to read the various descriptions on the information boards on the trails around the area. The spray from the geysers in the basin can damage the finish on the cars in the parking lot, so be sure to wash your car when you return home.
There was a lot of roadwork going on in the park, and we were delayed for about 45 minutes between Beaver Lake and the Sheep Eater Cliff on the road to Mammoth.
As we descended into Mammoth, we were surprised by the number of people and cars. Mammoth is also pretty well known for the elk herd that is always wandering around or lying on the lawns in Mammoth. There were park employees standing by the various concentrations of elk. It was the rut at the time we were there, and several of the bulls acted irritated with all the people walking around.
After checking into our room and having lunch at the Mammoth Grill, we headed on down to the Roosevelt Junction and drove through Lamar Valley where we have seen grizzlies on previous trips. This time, we saw pronghorn and bison, but no bears. The mountains that border the east end of the Lamar Valley were impressive and had already received snow at the 10,000-foot level.
We then turned around, drove back to Roosevelt, turned south and drove to Tower Falls before returning to Mammoth and our cabin for the night.
As soon as we entered the cabin, Annie saw a small animal sitting on top of our suitcase. She screamed that there was a mouse in the room with us, and our little dog, realizing that Annie was frightened of something, also became frightened. After my grandson and I got Annie and the dog calmed down, we realized it was a chipmunk and called the hotel to report there was a chipmunk in the room. While Annie was talking to the people at the front desk, the chipmunk ran across both beds again, and Annie screamed into the phone and the pandemonium started all over again. We were given another cabin and packed up to move, while Annie made sure the hotel staff wouldn’t hurt the chipmunk when they removed it from the cabin.
Early Monday morning, we left Mammoth and drove over the Dunraven Pass and down to Canyon, which is about centrally located in the park. From Canyon, we drove to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone to see the Upper and Lower Falls and Artists Point. As we drove back from the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, we saw a herd of deer. We then drove by Fishing Bridge, Lake and West Thumb, before turning northwest over the Continental Divide and into Old Faithful to see the geyser go off and have lunch. We weren’t impressed when Old Faithful erupted since we have seen it look more spectacular in previous trips, but lunch was really good.
We then stopped to see Fire Hole lake for a few minutes before driving on to the Madison Junction, and and on to West Yellowstone and out of the park.
It was a beautiful time to see Yellowstone. Winter will be coming, and much of the park will soon be inaccessible until June of next year. Snow has already been falling at many locations above 8,000 feet elevation.
Smokey Merkley was raised in Idaho and has been hunting since he was 10 years old. He can be contacted at email@example.com.