Vince's Trans-continental Trip

21 May 2005 - Saturday

We slept in a bit this day, which turned out to be OK since the East gate of Yellowstone didn't open until 8am due to construction.

0 Miles - Left Cody, Wyoming
We drove in toward Yellowstone. There are towering cliffs and a cool stream along the way, and suddenly you go through a neat tunnel and the stream is dammed up to form the Buffalo Bill Reservoir

We got to the park entrance right at 8am and had to wait in a short line to get in. The ranger said in an ominous voice "Here's your info and here's the construction map of doom." [no, really, he did say that]. And scary it was. They are reconstructing the Eastern entrance to the park, so Kristina had to drive up a mountain along an under-construction gravel road with a steep drop on one side. But eventually we crested the caldera and entered the core of the park.

Suddenly we realized how cold it was. It was in the 40s. There were piles of snow around, ice on the major lakes, and some of the major roads had just opened recently (and some were still closed due to snow). Here is a picture of our first view of Yellowstone Lake:
Yellowstone Lake

We started driving around the lower loop road, and the first site of interest was the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Quite a remarkable site, with lots of geysers, hot springs, paint pots (which are bubbling pools of mud) and other geothermal features. Hot steam was obscuring the view in many places, and the rotten-egg smell of Hydrogen Sulfide was ever-present.

Here is an overview of what the area looked like. The two pyramid shaped things are inactive geysers (I think):
West Thumb Geyser Basin
Here is an example hot spring. They all have names, but unfortunately I didn't keep good track of which were which. The springs are often mere feet from each other, yet will be of vastly different color and size. They were all obscured by steam, which had obvious negative impact on the pictures I took.
Hot Spring

The thermal features continue out into Lake Yellowstone; the brochure we were given says it even continues out on the bottom of the lake. Here are two geysers right on the shore:
Lake Geysers

Some of the hot springs have amazing colors, like this blue one:
Blue Spring

There were many many more springs in this area, but we had to move on. So we continued on the loop, crossing the continental divide twice before we got to the next stop. Here is one of the times:
Continental Divide

Day 4 Continued on the next page!

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