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Harry and Judy's RV Trip
No Photos 28th May 2011 - Summer 2011
Day 42-Yellowstone National Park Upper Loop

Woke up to a dusting of sleet and drizzle but we’ve learned that this burns away and it turns out to be a nice day ‘til the afternoon when it starts all over again.
Went to the campground office to see if the upper loop was open and found out that there was a rock slide to the east of Mammoth Hot Springs and that section was closed but it might be cleared by the time we got up there. A pass in the lower loop was closed last night because of the snow and sleet that we went through yesterday. Also heard there was an elk in the campground last night wandering around.
The entrance is only four blocks from the campground and there was a long line to get in. There’s four open booths and they were all about 25 cars deep. I don’t know what they do in the summer. Because we have the Golden Pass we don’t pay (it’s $25 if you don ‘t have one) and there was an express lane with nobody in it so we went right through.
So we started out and there was no buffalo or elk where they were yesterday but a lot more geysers and hot spots which are really interesting and pretty. It’s so cold out (only got to 42 today) and yet these geysers are boiling away. Signs all over to stay away from them or you could really get burned.
We saw an occasional elk and a few buffalo lazing in the woods but nothing great. About half way up to where we’re going all of a sudden traffic stopped. We could see people looking at something and we asked some people going the other way. Seems there was a grizzly bear right off the side of the road. Harry got out to walk down there and investigate, I drove (or crawled). I finally got down to where the bear was and parked. The bear was no more than 40 feet from all the people, just munching on grass. Mind you they tell you all the time to stay 100 yards away from wolves and bears. Right! Some people are nuts, including my husband (you won’t believe the movie he took).
So we continue on, stop at a nice rest stop for a picnic lunch we brought and see bear tracks in the snow which could have been the same bear. Lots of geysers up to Mammoth Hot Springs,which is exactly what it says it is, Mammoth Hot Springs. There’s ramps built up to the top so you can look into them (a big hike up) and there’s elk roaming around in town like squirrels. The town is pretty big with hotels and restaurants and gift shops. Lots of waterfalls and beautiful scenery on this route and the snow on trees really does improve them. We went to the visitor center in Mammoth and found out that the road is still closed so we turned around and started back. There’s only a one lane each way road that does a loop but when a pass is closed you have to go back the same way you came. Oh, and no shoulders on this road, just some pull off spots.
A little further north from where the bear was traffic is stopped again. This time a black bear is in a clump of trees and a little further down there’s a buffalo who won’t get out of the middle of the road. This time they have park rangers directing traffic, oh boy. We finally get around the buffalo (who looked really insulted that we passed him) and there’s another traffic jam. A grizzly is in the woods in a valley, this one a little bigger than the first one. Another park ranger, oh boy. Get passed them and an elk runs across the road in front of the car in front of us. The traffic jams are so bad when somebody spots wildlife I can’t imagine what it’s like here in the summer.
No action for about a half hour and then a herd of buffalo crossing the river and a little farther down some elk. Not too many elk out now, they’re getting ready to have their calves next week. They have them all at once so the wolves can’t get a few a week, they get some and then move on. The buffalo don’t much care about wolves, they have their babies over a 3 month period. There’s lots of them now and they’re really cute, little red things with wobbly legs. See how much I’ve learned here?
Another elk jumps out from our right, but this one has the good sense not to run in front of us and turns around. Then there’s a beaver right on the side of the road near the river.
It’s nice here now, still sunny, although it did snow during the day and still downright cold. Got back to camp, had dinner and then the ice cream places got the best of Harry so we went into town (which is only two blocks away). Town is a friendly little place, every body seems to know everybody. There’s a few people who own a lot here, for example, the 87 year old lady who owns the campground also owns the biggest mercantile (gift shop) in town and “a few other places”. The tour bus driver also does snow mobile tours and guides hiking expeditions in the winter and does some construction. The woman who works the front desk of one of the hotels also does the books for a snowmobiling outfit and waits tables at a restaurant. The owner of the tour bus company also owns a hotel, restaurant and gift shop. People do what they have to in the off season. It seems a harsh existence to me but they seem to love to be here.
We certainly got the Yellowstone experience today. Lots of people come here and don’t see as much as we did today. Leaving tomorrow for Jackson, WY, driving through the Tetons.

Next: Day 43-It's always good to have a Plan B
Previous: Day 41-Yellowstone National Park Lower Loop

Diary Movies

Harry and the bear

Buffalo in road

Buffalo Poop

Passing Buffalo


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