Yellowstone: West and North

We’ve already posted three blogs on our time in Yellowstone National Park, and we still have a bunch to share. We’ll try to fit everything in this posting, since you’re probably tired of hearing about how beautiful Yellowstone is! In this post we’ll share a few of our adventures outside of the park in West Yellowstone, Montana, and we’ll fill you in on our days in the northern part of the park, including the Lamar Valley which has been called the “Serengeti of North America.”

We spent about six days in and around West Yellowstone and the west entrance to the national park. While in the area we strolled the cute shops in the tourist town, and Steve made a few purchases. He’s decided to take up fly fishing so time in the fly shops was included in our explorations. Who knew there was so much to learn about this very-Montana way of fishing?

Cliff Lake

Just before starting this trip we purchased two Botē inflatable kayaks, which we plan to use later this year when we return to the Florida Keys. However, we figured, “why wait?” We scouted out a sweet little mountain lake about 30 minutes outside of West Yellowstone. Cliff Lake was perfect place to launch the kayaks and paddle around. Steve even threw out a line and got a bite.

Wild West Yellowstone Rodeo

After our time at the lake we took in the local rodeo, the Wild West Yellowstone rodeo. It was really a display for tourists, not comparable to Prescott’s Rodeo, but we enjoyed the show from our camp chairs right up on the railing.

Mammoth Hot Springs and the North

After six days of exploration from West Yellowstone, we made our way through the park to a new campsite just outside of Gardiner, MT. We based ourselves at an RV park poised aside the Yellowstone River, which gave us easy access to the north gate and the historic arched entrance.

The north entrance to the national park is anchored by Mammoth Hot Springs. Mammoth Hot Springs consist of terraces of travertine over which hot spring waters run.

As a result, the springs emit steam and colorful pools that have drawn tourists since the park’s founding in 1872. We toured the springs on a cool evening and enjoyed the walk through the boardwalks.

Animals!

A visit to Yellowstone would not be complete without some extensive wildlife watching. Fortunately we found ourselves in a bear jam at one point during our explorations, and the bear came right up beside the truck! I rolled down the window to get a good picture, and Steve grabbed his bear spray. It was thrilling!

However, the best place to see wildlife is in the expansive Lamar Valley in the northern part of Yellowstone. We headed out on another early morning in search of animals and were not disappointed.

Of course we saw bison…everywhere. The best parts of the bison herds were all the babies that were tagging along with their moms.

In fact, we saw babies of all kinds including baby elk, baby badgers, baby pika, and baby wolves. Yes, we saw wolves but didn’t get photos since they were so far away, and a monocle was necessary to see the den. Thanks to a local guide, we were able to see the mama with her seven puppies. Even from a distance, it was super cool to get a glimpse of these animals that were once wiped from the area.

Of all the places we explored in Yellowstone, the Lamar Valley was the place that most exceeded our expectations. We found a beautiful hike, saw incredible scenery, and met a multitude of Yellowstone’s animal residents. If you go to Yellowstone, don’t miss the Lamar Valley!

We’re now on to parts north and will soon have more adventures to share. Happy Fourth of July!

P.S. Yes, Steve caught his first trout in the Yellowstone River. 🐟

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