And so, all good things come to an end.
I awoke on Tuesday, September 22nd with "a zip in my bip and a pop in my bop," (rather like this kid) ready to spend one final day exploring the cold and phenomenal park before heading south to the Grand Tetons, where I would camp a few more nights.
The first order of business was to visit Mammoth Hot Springs. It was close to where I was camping that I did not feel compelled to stop there the previous days, knowing it would be so easy to drop by in the future.
But, on my last day, it was my last chance to see the beautiful cascading travertine, so there I dutifully went...
Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs is within spitting distance of the Mammoth Town Center, so much so, it makes me wonder why I didn't stop here earlier. It would have only been a short walk from certain rutting elk to certain hotsprings.
The scenery here is spectacular and stark.
And yet, not lifeless, as this magpie would have you know.
(Ahh, I feel an excuse to link a Radiohead song coming on.)
Shooting reflective, bright white limestone in direct sunlight (and also gazing upon its glory) is less fun. But,I still made it there early enough that the area wasn't too crowded.
As I continued South, I continued to hit up spots that I meant to visit, but passed up earlier.
My second stop were the "sheepeater cliffs," basalt columns formed from cooled lava. Nearby Obsidian Creek is also a beautiful sight, providing a fair bit of contrast.
It likely goes without saying that Yellowstone is famous for many features, and these are low on the list, but they are a lovely change of scenery.
As always, when driving around Yellowstone, buffalo are a hazard. I mean, yes, they can wander across the road, but generally, they cause traffic jams as drivers stop in the middle of the road to snap a photo.
Is anyone going to get a good photograph under these conditions?
Anyway, there were a herd of buffalo chilling near Firehole Lake Dr, and it was easy enough to stop, not cause a traffic jam, and watch them from a safe distance while snapping some photos. So, I did that.
Biscuit basin is home to some of the park's most explosive geysers n'at.
It's also home to some of the bluest
Black Sand Basin
I paid a brief stop to the Black Sand Basin as well...
The rest of my drive crisscrossed the Continental divide.
The western part of Lake Yellowstone sticks out in a thumb-like shape and is also home to a lot of lovely geysers, meaning that this area has the full trifecta: lake, mountains, and exploding, bacteria-filled water features. It is absolutely glorious, and a lovely place to go for a stroll.
Oh, and elk just chilling nearby, obvs.
And with that, I continued crisscrossing continental shelves until the Rocky Mountains loomed on the horizon.
I crossed the park boundary and exited, not without some sadness.
Yellowstone is one of the most beautiful, unique, and special places on the planet, and it was such a blessing to visit again on my trip west.
At the same time, was three days enough time to spend in the park? What wonders did I miss? What delights could I have savored more? What could I have seen if I felt comfortable enough to leave my car parked somewhere for days, and venture out with my food in a bear-proof canister.
I can't know the answers to these questions, but I can say that seeing those mountains on the horizon did help get me pumped for my next stop: Grand Teton National Park.
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