Yellowstone National Park: Canyon to Tower and Lamar Valley

 

Total Miles Today: 65    total miles 3235

 

Slept very well. Woke up to heavy rain and very low cloud. The forecast for the next couple of days shows rain and even light snow on Thursday evening!!! It got up to about 13C today but last night it could have only been about 4C and it is going to get below freezing at night over the next couple of days. Of course we are at pretty high altitude. Our lodge is at 8500 feet above sea level,
Anyway after a room breakfast we set off. It had stopped raining by then but it was very wet underfoot. We had planned to do some hiking but with the cloud so low and the wet conditions we were pretty doubtful.
Headed north along the road towards Roosevelt Lodge. Stupendous views despite the grey day. We went through Dunraven Pass alongside Mt. Washburn which is at about 10500 feet. Trees and forest as far as you could see. On the other side of the pass we came to an overlook down to the Yellowstone River and some thermal pools. The smoke was billowing up and we could smell the sulphur.
Further on we came to Tower Waterfall where the Yellowstone falls around 135 feet down over strange pillared rock. The yellow bandings in the rock walls of the surrounding canyon were very attractive. It drizzled a bit here. We went into the adjoining park store and got some hot coffee.
On the road again and we turned right to go through the Lamar Valley to the north east of the park. Often referred to as Yellowstone’s Serengeti due to the large rolling plains on either side of the Lamar River backed by grassy hills with trees. It is a prime wildlife spotting area and did not disappoint.
We first encountered some antelope right beside the road. They weren’t nervous at all. And then lots and lots of buffalo. Herds of them. One herd began to run and it charged across the road in a semi stampede which brought traffic to a halt. Amazing to see them moving so fast. We saw several herds today.
We then came to a spot where a lot of people were set up with spotting scopes – big, massive ones – all trained at a nearby hill. We were just in time to see a black wolf running along the hill. Unmistakeable. Wolves were re-introduced to Yellowstone in the mid 80s I believe and they have established here very successfully. We also saw a bald eagle flying overhead. Apparently there were also 3 bears and another wolf in the same area but they went behind a small rise and were lost to sight. There was a dead buffalo there which they were all enjoying. We stayed for a while hoping one would re-emerge but clearly they were enjoying the eating too much.
We drove on stopping at lots of places to look up at the hills and the valley to see what we could see but today – for us at least – it was mostly buffalo and antelope. A lot of both.
We had a picnic beside the Lamar River. The sun came out about 1130 and stayed out for the rest of the day, which was lovely. After our picnic, we turned and retraced our steps. We took a small side road at one point to go up to a fishing camp. Saw several fishermen out in the river fly fishing and also a horsey group coming back with packs loaded on horses and mules.
Managed to find a bit of phone signal in a couple of places to ring the girls for a catchup. None of the signal was even 3g so no chance of uploading any pictures. I have some really great shots from here and also some video clips of the buffalo herds but I think they will have to wait till we leave Yellowstone as the signal and the wifi is next to non existent everywhere. I do think the lodges should make more effort with the wifi.

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