A Travellerspoint blog

Is it buffalo or bison?

Either way, they are interesting creatures...

A bison grazing just ten feet in front of our motorhome! I opened the door early in the morning to take our puppy outside and discovered the giant black-and-brown beast between us and the shower hall...uh, quick right turn to go in the opposite direction, and calling to the family photographer, "come quickly and safely!"

A few minutes later, I chuckled as a woman, wrapped in her pink robe and hair in a towel turban, open the door to exit the showers, and was quite startled to find this obstacle in her way. The bison? Too busy munching grass to care who was around where.

The bison we've seen, scattered across our Wyoming paths, seem to not notice people, cars, buses, or roadways. We sat for nearly two hours in Hayden Valley in Yellowstone watching a herd of more than 300 beasts, gently grazing over the rolling meadows. I almost thought a few were slyly having fun with the traffic, crossing back and forth across the road and stopping delighted tourists many times.

I'm so glad I can enjoy these wooly animals...at a safe distance if possible...and admire their tenacity, strength and wild beauty.

Posted by Joyful Feet 19:45 Archived in USA Tagged bison yellowstone_national_park Comments (0)

Sweet camping spot

Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming

We lucked into such a sweet little camping spot today!

We drove Highway 14 from Greybull, Wyoming, up into the Bighorn National Forest. This is a beautiful drive, winding up Shell Canyon. Shell Creek is visible some of the time at the bottom of the canyon, and the canyon itself is deep, with towering rock walls. Shell Creek Falls, where the creek drops 120 feet and rushes down the winding canyon, was a interesting stop. I was surprised to find sagebrush bushes growing out of the rock ledges above the falls. Their placement reminded me of hanging gardens, but they were the wrong kind of plant to be doing that!

We began the climb into the mountains at the tiny town of Shell, about 4,000 feet elevation. It was a pretty steady climb to Granite Pass (you thought it would be called Shell Pass, huh!) into the alpine environment at 9,000 feet. We thought we were going to the clouds!

A few miles beyond the pass, and back down at 7,700 feet elevation, we found Prune Creek Campground, one of the few campgrounds still open for the season. Indeed, the camp host told us this campground closes at 2p.m. tomorrow. We are in site 10, there are only 21 sites here all together, and just five parties staying tonight.

But our site feels like a slice of heaven: 25 yards from Prune Creek, with its rippling water; willows on the opposite bank that revealed a mule deer about dusk tonight; blue skies this afternoon, and tonight the moonlight is making the stream a ribbon of silver under the stars. Heaven!

Posted by Joyful Feet 10:08 Archived in USA Tagged wyoming bighorn_national_forest prune_creek_campground Comments (0)

Fire under my feet

Yellowstone National Park

I've never had a great deal of interest in geology, and perhaps that's why, when I visited Yellowstone National Park some 40 years ago, my memories are mostly of the rustic cabin we stayed in, and the bison in the park.

Ok, so I did see lots of bison again this trip, but what astounded me is what I found under my feet: a geo-thermal wonderland! I still cannot explain what makes some of the thermal feature geysers and others boiling mud pots, but I do know there's a whole lot of bubbling and boiling going on down there.

I am amazed at the jet-engine roar of the Ledge Geyser in the Norris Geyser Basin. A few hundred yards away, a much smaller vent that hisses better than any petroleum plant I've ever driven by.

The rust and burnt orange colors at the Paint Pots, contrasting with the vivid green of the moss in the nearby hot springs stream -- stunning! Not to be out-done, the Grand Prismatic Spring presents nearly every color in the rainbow.

A landscape shrouded in the rain of the morning, with green lodge pole pines reaching into the mist, but with steam drifting up through the hills and valleys in vast puffs --wondrous.

It is scary and fascinating at the same time to think what is happening right under my feet in the Yellowstone Basin.

And a PS here for the wildlife: we spent nearly two hours one afternoon watching herds of bison munching their way across Hayden Valley, and it was almost as interesting to watch the traffic they were stopping. We also found deer, elk ,antelope, and even a wolf. Perhaps the strangest sight was a grizzly bear, appeared to be asleep, draped over the top of a bison carcass. I guess even big grizzlies feel a need to protect their dinner!

Posted by Joyful Feet 10:07 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Buffalo Bill had vision!

Cody, Wyoming

I have a new appreciation for Buffalo Bill Cody, after visiting Cody, Wyoming.

Though we did not spend much time there, we took a one-hour Cody Trolley Tour that fulfilled its promise, of 100 years of history in one hour.

Seems William Cody was so sure people would be drawn to the grandeur of the American West, that he founded the town of Cody in the early 1880's with the idea of tourists in mind all along. Of course, he was helped by the fact that just a few years before, Yellowstone had become the nation's first national park, and it just happened to be a few miles west of the Cody townsite.

The Irma Hotel, which Bill Cody built for the "discriminating" traveller of the day, is still in downtown Cody. One can just imagine the ladies with their bustles and the gents with their handlebar mustaches walking down the grand staircase, and exclaiming over Bill's collection of mounted wild game trophies in the hallway. The dining room still has the stamped tin ceiling, and the broad porch invites one to view the happenings on the street in front.

Streets are wide in Cody, as they have been since the town was platted. Doubt Bill could foresee the autos coming in about 30 years, but the town was well-prepared for them. The tour we took pointed out many neighborhoods, including the old red light district, the numerous saloons and the few churches, as well as more current structures such as the Cody Museum and the golf course.

Altogether, an interesting town with a great history!

Posted by Joyful Feet 10:04 Archived in USA Tagged wyoming cody buffalo_bill_cody cody_trolley_tours Comments (0)

Grand Teton National Park

Five days in the Grand Tetons, and I could have stayed for many more -- what an awe-inspiring place! I could write a book, but not tonight, so let me just jot my most favorite experiences:

-- Gros Ventre Slide, a landslide in 1925 that sent so much earth, rocks, trees and debris down the mountain in 3 minutes that it dammed the river and created a lake. Wow, what nature can do so quickly!
-- kayaking on Jenny Lake, and out-racing a rain storm
-- slipping our kayak in the Snake River at Cattleman's Bridge, so silently amid the early morning mist. Elk were bulging in the woods, a bald eagle chittered in the treetops, and the current of the river floated us along in this beautiful waterway. We paddled quietly in, out and around a maze of pools and ponds, and though we found no moose, the fall colors of the river foliage in the quiet of the morning just took our breath away.
-- thousands of water lilies on Swan Lake and Heron Pond
-- floating in a raft down the Snake River early one morning, with the clouds casting across the Teton Mountains, and seeing so many bald eagles we lost count.
-- an early-morning walk along the Gros Ventre River, behind our campsite. Again, no moose (they are being very elusive to us!), but just appreciating the stream rippling along and the treetops showing their fall golden color.
-- a bike ride down Moose-Wilson Road, and hiking to Phelps Lake....when I go back here again, I'm taking a lunch and settling down on one of the huge log benches at the lake and just soak it up for a few hours...what a lovely place. This is inside the Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve, and there is a wonderfully unique and excellent center there exhibiting environmental information in very exciting ways. I highly recommend a visit there.

Ok--this is almost a book already! Just know this is such a special place, it deserves much more.

Posted by Joyful Feet 21:36 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes wyoming grand_teton_national_park Comments (0)

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