Yellowstone – high mountains, wild animals and endless wilderness

After our long drive through the Wild West, it was time to see some mountains again. We took the Beartooth Pass and set a new high mark with our Bremach: the elevation of the pass is more than 3300m (a little more than 2 miles) ! To enjoy the area, we spent one night in an old, dense forest at a height of 2950m  (almost 2 miles) above sea level and, at night, we gazed at the infinite number of stars in the sky. It is fascinating to see at what a height the trees still grow here. Inspired by all the signs stating that we were now in ‘grizzly country’, we got up very early in the morning and drove towards Yellowstone National Park. At dawn, the chances of seeing wild animals are the greatest. We didn*t see anything but forest and mountains in the beautiful morning light, however. Yet getting up early turned out to be very worthwhile because we arrived at the campground early enough to get one of the very popular campsites. We signed in for three nights at Slough Creek Campground, which is the most secluded and quiet one. You cannot make a reservation for a campsite; it is ‘first come, first served’, so you have to get there early in the day. After spending so many nights in our vehicle, we set up our tent directly next to the creek and felt very lucky to get such a wonderful site!

In Yellowstone, we looked at lots of sights, but the park is so big that you have to cover a whole lot of miles. One round trip on the figure eight loop road totals 260km (161 miles)! You get a good insight into how nature thrives when humans don’t intervene. There are vast meadows, endless forests, lakes, creeks, and, in between, thermal areas and traces of volcanic activity. All of this is at an average elevation of 2200m (1.367 miles) above sea level. Bison are the most common animal seen in Yellowstone. You can see lots of herds, and it happens very often that all the traffic has to stop and wait due to bison walking along the street. One evening, we even had a surprise visit from two bison bulls at our campsite. One went around our tent to the left, the other to the right, searching for the right place to cross the creek. We were surprised at how carefully these huge animals navigated around our tent and its hook-up lines.

Driving around Yellowstone, you always have to be prepared to encounter people taking photos on or close to the street, leaving their vehicles parked in the funniest ways. Whenever there is a big traffic jam, there must be something special to see. That is how we caught a glimpse of our first wild grizzly. He was pretty far away, but could be seen quite well. The next day, we were even luckier and saw a grizzly eating its way through a small valley, at a distance of less than 50m (160 feet) from the street. Since it was a side street, there weren’t very many people watching, and it was a great event for us to observe such a big bear in the wilderness. Other highlights included seeing two elk bulls with enormous antlers, a coyote trotting along the street, and lots of big birds and pronghorns (a big kind of antelope and the fastest mammal found in North America).

Since most of Yellowstone National Park is situated on a super volcano, it offers another fantastic feature: hot springs. We went swimming several times – once in Boiling River, where the very hot water of a creek flows into the cold Gardinier River and gets mixed in a big pool where everybody can find a spot with exactly the right temperature, and once in the ‘only’ warm Firehole River, where you can jump into the white water and let yourself drift through a little canyon into a big pool. Before leaving the park, we went back to Boiling River again, so I (Max) could take a hot birthday bath. I even got an American birthday cake with the typical extra serving of (blue!) icing.

Now we are heading off towards Glacier National Park and enjoying great views of the Rocky Mountains.

2 Thoughts on “Yellowstone – high mountains, wild animals and endless wilderness

  1. Martin Giezendanner on Thursday July 25th, 2013 at 04:01 PM said:

    Dear Friends; even though it is a warm evening out, I’m not on the bicycle for ones. At least, I’m riding back and forth to work… I started reading some of your articles yesterday and took great pleasure reading your storries and refreshing my memories back, when I worked in the Chicago area. Before I was travelling home, I0ve spend some time on the road, hiking, riding and sightseeing many places. However, from Chicago I drove north to Lake Superior on went for a few days to Isle Royal National Park before driving south on I35 through the twin cities and then west at some point, just as you did to Badlands National Park. There I had a close encounter with aa relativly big bison. I was taking photographs of the many prairie dogs running arround. And, when I turned arround, this bison, that was previously just a dot in the wide grasland, was as large that I thought it was best to get away on the bicycle as fast as possible. Most others were hiding in their humangous RV’s…
    I then went on as you did, Wind Cave National Park to mee looked like the country side in Jura, only Bison rather than Horses… Then, on to Yellowstone and South to Grand Teton National Park.
    I admire your stories, hope to hear more soon!
    Best, Martin

  2. Ihr Lieben,
    Wir freuen uns über die tollen Berichte und endlich wieder ganz viele schöne Fotos!
    Wir nehmen an, dass auch dem Robert und der Carla der Geburtstagskuchen gemundet hat und wünschen euch eine gute Weiterfahrt.
    Lg von der Insel
    Marlene, Larissa und Christoph

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