Summer Vacation Part IX – Yellow Bus Tour Day 4…

Day 4 is the final day on the Yellow Bus. We will depart Lake Village and proceed north through the Hayden Valley, Canyon Village, past Mt. Washburn to Tower Junction, and on to Mammoth Hot Springs. We parallel the Yellowstone River and make our first stop at Artist Point – the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

We stop briefly to see the Upper Falls. We crossed the bridge at the top of the image on our way to this view. Mother Nature gave us a beautiful rainbow to enhance the shot.

The Yellow Bus at Artist Point parking lot.

The iconic view of Yellowstone Falls, with an obliging sky.

In portrait orientation.

Tour guide Nancy helped us out. She’s pretty good with a camera that also makes phone calls. Even on June 7, it was jacket weather.

My lovely bride with Matt, our Yellow Bus driver…

…and Nancy, our tour guide.

This is Lower Yellowstone Falls from the other side of the Yellowstone River, and a little closer than Artist Point.

A view of the Yellowstone River looking downstream from the Falls area.

After a lunch stop at Canyon Village, we continued north through Dunraven Pass. Throughout the day, we saw lots of wildlife: Sandhill Cranes, Blue Heron, many small birds, Osprey, a Bald Eagle, and Great Horned Owls in a faraway nest.

Of course, Bison were common. An artsy Bison shot.

After seeing several Coyotes from some distance, I finally got the chance for some up close shots of this one hunting. We had been watching a couple Coyotes at some distance when, as usual, I turned around to see what was behind me. This hunter was just across the road and intent on getting some lunch.

Even with all this wildlife around, the focus of the day turned out to be (drum roll please) the Bears.

This big guy was walking through a thermal area which explains his wet appearance.

We pulled into the Tower Fall parking lot and heard everyone talking about the two Black Bears just down the path.

I grabbed the big camera and ran down the path. Sure enough, a young Black and this Cinnamon Black were playing together in the trees across a ravine.

Since I had run from the Yellow Bus with the big camera, all I had for a picture of the Tower Fall was my trusty mobile phone.

I had been trying for pictures of a Great Horned Owl nest some distance away, when my tour buddies started talking about the Bear in the trees below the nest. (Matt had his spotting scope out and was checking to see what was around.) This Black Bear sat on this rock and watched the people watching him!

I grabbed this shot out the Yellow Bus window as we crawled along with the rest of the traffic. We encountered six Bears in a brief stretch of road.

Another of the many Bears we saw that afternoon.

The Yellow Bus was alive with chatter about our unusual luck seeing bears that day. Nancy and Matt deemed us the luckiest tour that either had ever been on.

We arrived back at Mammoth Hot Springs for our last night in Yellowstone. We all gathered in the Mammoth Dining Room for one last meal together, recounting our wonderful week with newfound friends. As we arrived back at our cabin, all was right with the world.

This Cow Elk was grazing just across the street from our cabin.

We repacked the PhotoFun50 for the trip home and got to bed, still discussing our lucky Bear Watching day.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

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Summer Vacation Part VIII – Yellow Bus Tour Day 3…

We departed Old Faithful and headed east towards Yellowstone Lake. We stopped at the Continental Divide and had a couple nice surprises.

This is a Barrows Goldeneye. He swam around and climbed on this log for me. A beautiful bird and very accommodating for the camera.

I found this gorgeous scene across the road from the parking lot. A quick shot with my ‘camera that also makes telephone calls.’

Yellow Bus at the Continental Divide.

Our next stop was the West Thumb Geyser Basin on the west shore of Yellowstone Lake.

To protect the fragile landscape, the Park Service constructed boardwalks from the parking lot to the shore. I made this image from the boardwalk.

An interesting feature – a geyser in the lake.

We were fortunate to see wildlife there. This cow Elk was across a geyser field.

We enjoyed our lunch in the lobby of the Lake Lodge.

Matt posed with the Yellow Bus at the porte cochere.

After lunch, we headed to the Yellowstone Lake Marina for a hike but the trail was closed due to bear activity.

We walked around the marina. The tour boats were not operating yet, but we saw the boat operators getting their safety and other training to start operating tours the following week. The Park staffs up during the summer months to handle the increase in visitors. Of course, much of Yellowstone is closed during the winter months.

We stopped into the Marina Visitors Center and had a wonderful guided tour through the displays there.

Since we couldn’t go hiking, Matt drove the Yellow Bus towards the east entrance to see what we could see. Near Lake Butte, we found lots of vehicles parked along the road and people were looking down the hill. We saw two Grizzly Bears engaged in, well, an intimate moment.

We’ve all heard the old joke that asks what bears do in the woods, but never this version…

After a half hour or so, the sow kicked him off and they just rooted around for a while…

I have many friends who regularly take pictures in the Yellowstone ecosystem, and through them I learned that this sow is named Raspberry…

With our hike canceled, we had some extra time on our hands, so we watched these two for another hour or so. They eventually moved off and the crowd dissipated. We drove up Lake Butte and found this stunning view.

The versatility of my iPhone helped me have success on this trip. This is a panorama from my iPhone, and can be printed at 48″ wide by 12″ high.

A different view of the Yellow Bus on the north shore of Yellowstone Lake.

From Lake Butte, we drove west across Fishing Bridge (where you can’t fish from the bridge) and turned north, following the Yellowstone River to the LeHardy Rapids. We saw a pair of male Harlequin Ducks doing a little fishing.

Harlequin Ducks are found in the United States along the Washington, Oregon, and northern California coasts, in a narrow section of central Washington into Oregon, and from Yellowstone Park north along the Montana-Idaho border, into Canada (British Columbia and Yukon provinces) and then into Alaska.This fella’ stepped out of the water for his close up.

After a little more sightseeing along the River, we headed back to the Lake Lodge for the night. Our accommodations were in the Cabins.

Very nice inside. A little bigger than the cabins at Mammoth Hot Springs. Matt was good enough to drop us off and pick us up literally at the door.

We had a wonderful dinner with Nancy, Matt, and the others in the dining room at the Lake Lodge.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Summer Vacation Part VII – Yellow Bus Tour Day 2…

We checked out of the Mammoth Hot Springs Lodge, parked the PhotoFun50, and loaded our bags into the Yellow Bus.

Our first stop was the Yellowstone Heritage Center in Gardiner MT, where we got a private tour of the collections there. Pictures were not allowed, but it’s a wonderful facility. We returned to Yellowstone National Park through the Roosevelt Arch. We took a few minutes to record our visit.

These cow Elk were on the hillside near the Roosevelt Arch.

Our group picture under the Arch. I set the timer on the shutter release and ran to get into the picture. This is the back of the Arch. The morning sun had the front of the Arch in shadow.

We were headed for Old Faithful, traveling south on the west side of the Park. Our first stop was the Golden Gate.

A gorgeous view. The engineer in me was interested in the bridge.

I usually read the information signs and then move on, but the engineer in me had to save this information.

Turning around from the gorgeous view, I found Rustic Falls.

Our route took us past Roaring Mountain and Obsidian Cliff. We were approaching our lunch stop when we ran into a Bear Jam, caused by this happy camper.

This Black Bear was not bothered by the onlookers at all, and enjoyed its dandelion snack before disappearing into the trees.

We ate our lunch at a quiet spot along the Gibbon River.

We found this herd of Bison as we continued our journey.

Our next stop was the Madison Information Station, a short hike from the parking lot.

Nancy shared the story of National Park Mountain (behind her). Legend has it that the Washburn party camped nearby around 1870 and discussed the creation of a national park system. Yellowstone National Park was created in 1872.

With National Park Mountain on the left, this is the view down the Madison Valley towards Mount Haynes – spectacular!

For our next stop, Matt dropped us at a trailhead and we hiked about a mile and a half to see this!

Grand Prismatic Spring as viewed from an overlook.

Nancy took a few pictures for us.

Headed back to the Yellow Bus, we saw Rabbit Creek meeting the Firehole River.

Tired from our busy day, we arrived at Old Faithful. We had time to check into our room in the Old Faithful Snow Lodge before watching Old Faithful put on a show.

The Yellow Bus at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge.

I shot a video and will figure out how to pull a frame from the video.

After the geyser show, we headed to the Old Faithful Lodge for a wonderful dinner.

This is the fireplace in the dining room. The painting is gorgeous and resembles the spark screen on the hearth.

What a fantastic day! Gorgeous scenery, Bison, a Bear, Old Faithful, and great friends.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR