19 July, 2012

Day 15, 212km: Southern Yellowstone

Hello all,

Today was the first half of my visit of Yellowstone national park.
The place is huge, I hope the map below will give you a sense of how huge.

Staying at West Yellowstone, did the "southern loop" today
The park is bigger than Corsica! So you can guess why I drove 212km and saw barely half of it. Yesterday I  was talking about drive-in everything in USA, well the place is basically a drive-in park. Which, I have to say, is very convenient when you're travelling on bike and not fond of hiking :)

Here we go with the geysers. I was sick of Pine tree smell, Sulfur cured me...!
So there's something to see every 5km or so along the way in the park. The only thing I knew about was the Old Faithful (clockwork geyser with eruptions every 90min). Since there was so many things, I decided in a completely random way to stop every two "attractions" + the ones that sounded cool.

Ground at the Grand Prismatic Spring (if that's not a cool name...)
I think my photos don't do justice to the places you will see below. Since I'm not a talented photographer, I'll rather try to describe you the atmosphere of the place. 

First thing you have to do is to buy an egg, place it somewhere in your house and come back in 4 days to read this article again. 
4 days passed, you had a good weekend? Great. 

Now you'll want to take the egg in your dominant hand, hold it tightly but not too much as you don't want to break it. Extend your arm as far as you can in front of you. Then in a swift move you'll bring your arm as close to your body as you can, all the while ensuring that your palm (and the egg) are facing your forehead. Continue the movement rapidly, until the contents of the rotten egg are splattered over your face.

Good. Now you're in Yellowstone geyser parks.

The beauty of the place makes up for having egg all over your face right?
So while you were cleaning the egg off your face and the floor, I was saving that the place was packed. Wooden walkways are winding between the pools and geysers. They're half full of American tourists (easy to spot, they're wearing caps, short pants and white socks going up to their calves). The rest is a mixture of:
- German Harley Davidson riders (don't ask me why) who were very proud to see a BMW so far from ihr Vaterland
- Chinese (speaking) tourists not sure where they were from, doing "jumps" photos are every spot (you know the photo where you're supposed to be all in the air)
- French (cocoricco!) easy to spot since they wander around seemingly thinking "that's not that big of a geyser, I've seen better in Vulcania"

The grand prismatic pool/spring/whatever
So if you remember the map above, there are basically two loops in Yellowstone, and most of the lodging seems to be on the western side. Which means that you're very likely to see the same crowd each time you stop. On we went from stop to stop with this snapshot of American tourism.

The old Faithful "off"
The park is actually very nicely arranged with a few stops offering lodging and gas. I had the confirmation that indeed, everything was full. Although the staff were happy to inform me that they were taking reservations for Summer 2013.

And "on"
So the crowd eventually meets at the old Faithful, waiting for it to erupt as it does every 90 minutes or so. That was impressive! The plume of water was probably 20m high (up to 56m says wikipedia) and lasted for a good 2 minutes. I think the best way to visit the park would be to fly over it, I'm not sure if there are such tours but walking on the ground we don't really get a sense of the size of things there.

Another stupid thought I had was riding through the roads in the park (nice winding mountain roads) I thought it would be really cool to organize a car/motorcycle race in the park. Then I realized that it being a national park that probably wouldn't happen, ever.

Lake Yellowstone
I didn't see as much wildlife as I did in northern Canada (highway 97 as those of you who've been taking notes will recall) but it was definitely funnier. There were traffic jams in the park anytime there was wildlife.

A large herd of Bison
Now that's where being on a motorcycle is really cool, cars were lined up for 5km (seriously) and I just drove past the traffic jam. I guess people stayed there an hour or more. They probably did, since I didn't see the French/Chinese crew again after this event. Oh and a side comment, because I like making generalizations based on anecdotal evidence, in Canada, to see wildlife, people pull over and parked carefully so as not to block traffic. In USA, they slow down and create massive jams.

The day ended at Yellowstone Canyon
So that was it for the southern part of the park.
Tomorrow, the northern loop! Who knows I'll probably see the German biker crew again.

Have a great day everyone,

1 comment:

  1. Worth the trip for Yellowstone... Grand Prismatic, you should climb the hill next to it, from above, the view is simply outstanding - give it a try -
    It's good to have a walk sometimes a well :)