Yellowstone Highlights Part One

Personal, Travel

Last June, I photographed a wedding in Cody, Wyoming and I made a trip out of it with my friend Katie and we spent some extra days exploring Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Our first full day was mostly taken up exploring Grand Teton National Park (see that blog post here) but to get to where we were staying that night, we had to drive through Yellowstone.

THURSDAY: We knew that we would be coming back and exploring Yellowstone more fully the day after the wedding so we didn’t stop too much but instead just appreciated the scenery as we drove through it. Most of the stops we did take were along the first part of our drive from the southern entrance until we hit the Grant Visitor Center because we knew we wouldn’t be coming back down that section again.

This river with the last remnants of snow reminded me of Narnia as spring is coming.

As we started heading out of Yellowstone towards the East entrance, we climbed high up into the mountains and as we were starting the climb, the skies darkened dramatically and made for these amazing epic views:

When we came down the mountains on the other side, the clouds had broken and the sun was low in the sky casting the already red landscape around us with an even stronger orange glow. We were both so surprised by the completely different landscape that awaited us on this side of the mountains. It didn’t look anything like the Grand Tetons or Yellowstone but instead suddenly looked like we had been transported to somewhere in Utah or Nevada or even Arizona. (Not that I’ve been to any of those states, but pictures and videos I’ve seen remind me of this landscape).

FRIDAY: After we made it to Cody, WY on Thursday night, we stayed in this wonderful town for the whole next day as I had the wedding to photograph and Katie got to rest as she had come down with a cold the day before.

SATURDAY: Then bright and early Saturday morning we got up, found the cutest (and most delicious) local coffee shop, and headed back to the Eastern Entrance of Yellowstone, retracing our path from Thursday night.

Once again the drive from Cody to the Eastern Entrance of Yellowstone had us mesmerized as it was completely new and incredible to the two of us. The photos are unable to truly express the magnitude of these red cliffs and rock formations that towered all around us.

Since we were staying in Cody again Saturday night, we decided to wait to explore the scenic places along the eastern road until we were leaving the park later that night. Instead, we drove straight in and when we hit the main circle, we headed to the right, choosing to go counter-clockwise on the main loop.

Highlights of this day included: LeHardys Rapids, Mud Volcano, Hayden Valley, Upper Yellowstone Falls, Lower Yellowstone Falls, Artist Point, Artist’s Paint Pots, Fountain Paint Pot, Grand Prismatic Spring, Biscuit Basin, Old Faithful, and many gorgeous spots along Yellowstone Lake (the biggest lake in the map below).

You can stand at the edge of both the upper and lower falls on viewing platforms which was a wild experience. There was SO much water rushing past and it was amazing to get to be so close to these massive waterfalls.

All the thermal activity in Yellowstone was also wild to the two of us. Somewhat nerve-wracking at times (simply to think about the fact that we are standing on ground that is filled with such large amounts of thermal activity) but also so fascinating. Pictures don’t do these areas as much justice as videos and neither pictures nor videos can fully express what the experience was like. But that didn’t stop me from trying to capture it as best as I could.

It was so crazy to see the variety of the hot springs, some of the pools were crystal clear and vibrantly blue, others were a milky blue, others were dark black or muddy and gray, and still others were bright red or orange. It was a very cloudy and at times rainy day which meant the steam from the thermal hot springs often covered most of the views of the pools but now and then the wind would shift and we’d get glimpses of the colors under the steam.

We did get to watch Old Faithful erupt and I did take a few photos but it was such a cloudy day that the photos and video are hardly able to capture it. It was incredible to see in real life but not something that I could accurately capture and share.

As we began our drive back towards the east entrance of Yellowstone, we stopped at every scenic pull-off along the road, most of them being along the magnificent Yellowstone Lake. The clouds and rain in the distance with the mountains in the background made for gorgeous views.

As we climbed into the mountains once again, we hit the areas where snow still lay on the ground.

We were leaving Yellowstone later than on Thursday so the sun was already starting to set while we were still up in the mountains and it was dark before we reached Cody. But the sunset colors hitting the mountains behind us as we descended was a spectacular end to the day.

Mary Kate


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