Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Part -II
by Sudha Chandrasekaran
Fountain Paint Pots trail
Get lost in the beauty of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, California- Part II
This is our last day in Yellowstone and we are on our way to Grand Tetons. On our way out our first stop early in the morning is at Norris geyser basin, Yellowstone’s hottest and oldest thermal area. In an hour’s time we explore its network of boardwalks, passing through numerous volatile geothermal features and other dormant ones. According to many geyser aficionados Norris is the most exciting and unpredictable of the various basins in Yellowstone. Steam vents are so hot that the little water that is there boils away before reaching the surface. The result is a hissing steam vent, like the Norris Black Growler Steam Vent which we are lucky to witness. Walking around we encounter several wild animals in their natural habitat.
This park is also home to two deep canyons that are stunning, including the Grand Canyon. We observe the Upper Falls and then hike along the south rim, capturing a beautiful view of the impressive Lower Falls. We have the unique experience of the sights and smells of boiling and bubbling Dragon’s Mouth and Mud pots. Mammoth Hot Springs feature an array of travertine terraces created by hot water and gases that ascend through limestone deposits. Walking up the platform takes us close to the amazing springs.
Our next stop is at Dragon’s mouth spring, the specialty of which is that, at frequent intervals the gas and pressure from inside produce a sound resembling a big animal’s growl which is like that of the breathing of a dragon! The mud pots, also known as witch's cauldron look like some sort of witch’s concoction because as you walk along this boardwalk, suddenly to your left and right you have these giant mud pools that are bubbling in random spots, with a view of the earth’s underbelly. Did you know that the entire park is a volcano? The bubbling geysers and hot springs are indications of the churning activity below the earth’s surface. OMG, were we standing on a volcano then!!!
Yellowstone offers an unparalleled opportunity to view wild animals enjoying themselves in the vast wilderness before them. Moving ahead we see two bears and a huge bison lying on the ground trying to kick out a mini storm of dirt and dust around them! We now exit Yellow Stone and proceed to Grand Tetons. On the way we are struck by the widespread evidence of the 1988 fire that raged there as we see innumerable dead trees mixed in, either as fallen logs or tall sticks amongst the new ones.
It is time to see one of Wyoming's most stunning destinations—Grand Tetons
National Park, that encompasses the gigantic Tetons mountain range through Wyoming; the 4,000-meter Grand Tetons peak; and the valley known as Jackson Hole.. As we near the Tetons, we are awe stuck on looking at the gigantic mountain which abruptly rises to about 14,000 feet above sea level.
We stop at couple of turnouts from where we get to see awesome views of the peaks. Our drive inside Grand Tetons area along the famous scenic byways is incredibly beautiful and teaming with wildlife roaming freely across the plains. We cool off on Jackson Lake, a 15-mile long glacial natural lake, located at the base of the Tetons and bathe in the sweeping views of Tetons Park. We spot a couple of jolly good fishing enthusiasts camping along the Lake’s shores enjoying the healthy trout population, who wave out to us enthusiastically.
Our bus is ready to depart to Jackson Hole town, bordering Idaho. Located in the heart of downtown there is this hub for shopping and dining that offers a beautiful, festive atmosphere with something for everyone.We hurriedly grab a pizza and head towards the four elk antler arches, a well known icon that guards the four entrances of the Town Square. We shoot a family picture in a minute as we hear our guide calling out to us to board the bus. We return to Salt Lake City for our night’s stay and are dead to the world for the next 6 hours.
A heavy breakfast and off we are to a city tour of Salt Lake City, a town of Mormons who emphasize on frugality and charity. Today being the last day of our tour, we rush though a few sightseeing places there.
The ten-acre heart of Mormonism, the historic Temple Square, is a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city. It houses three significant pioneer buildings, two visitor centres, and historic monuments--all within a beautifully manicured garden setting. Inside the square we find the main Mormon Temple, which is reserved for special events of Mormons only. Also recognizable on Temple Square are the female missionaries, the smiling docents and ambassadors, who help visitors like us understand more about the Church. We learnt that the Mormons had more than 60 wives and they were referred to as wife in Street no1. Wife in Street no.2.......Interesting information!
We had a swelling time, encountering beautiful scenery, superb weather, interesting travelling companions, and some very interesting wildlife over our four-day program. An uneventful flight back San Jose brought our wonderful experience to a close. Everything you have just seen is contained in less than two percent of the park. That means Yellowstone is nearly 100 times more amazing than you can imagine! ***