Road Trip 2016 - Pt 2

After a quiet evening in Bozeman we were really looking forward to our first day in Yellowstone park! The trip to the North Entrance from Bozeman took us through some beautiful parkland and we could imagine having a cabin here to enjoy visiting Yellowstone whenever we wanted.

Yellowstone National Park

We would enter Yellowstone National Park from the North Entrance, one of five entrances into the park. The entrance takes you from Gardiner, Montana into Yellowstone through the famous Roosevelt Arch. Yellowstone was established in 1872 as America's first national park in the country. Yellowstone is located in Wyoming and spans almost 3,500 square miles. The park extends into parts of Montana and Idaho, making it one of the largest national parks in the US. Yellowstone National Park sits on top of a dormant volcano and is home to more geysers and hot springs than any other place on earth. Approximately 50 percent of the world’s hydrothermal features are at Yellowstone National Park. The most famous of all the geysers is of course Old Faithful, one of the most popular and recognized natural wonders in the United States. Basic prediction of Old Faithful is dependent upon the duration of the previous eruption. During visitor center hours, geyser statistics and predictions are maintained by the naturalist staff. People speak of the average time between eruptions, this is misleading. Intervals can range from 60-110 minutes and the next eruption is calculated based upon the previous eruption and posted at various locations.

I had never visited Yellowstone before and was not quite sure what to expect. We had also heard of the devastating fire suffered by the park in 1988 and the effect of those fires can still be seen in the park but before you are deterred from visiting Yellowstone the park is still an amazing place to visit and though it has been marked by a fire that will last our lifetime there is still immense beauty to be seen. On this first trip we had hope to visit the Boiling River where the cold river merges with hot geyser fed water but were informed that it was still closed due to high water levels so we continued on to the Mammoth Hot Spring Area. The facility near the Hot Spring is quite developed but as if to remark that, all bow before nature a herd of elk had descended on the grounds. The facilities here were built by the U.S. Army. Yellowstone's first superintendents struggled with poaching, vandalism, squatting and other problems. In 1886, the U.S. Army soldiers marched into Mammoth Hot Springs at the request of the Secretary of the Interior and took charge of Yellowstone. Soldiers oversaw Fort Yellowstone's construction of sturdy red-roofed buildings that are still in use today as the Albright Visitor Center, offices, and employee housing.

The soldiers worked hard to stop illegal hunting, but they lacked authority to anything other than apprehend poachers, escort them out of the Park and order them never to come back. Persistent poachers ignored the orders. The most notorious poaching gang was called “The Merciless and Persistent Lot of Head and Skin Hunters". They were described by one Yellowstone scout as “the worst and most daring and desperate gang of poachers who ever defied the park laws and the vigilance of the authorities.” Finally, the military discovered the gang’s method of transportation; through the creeks to prevent from making tracks in the snow. This led to the gang’s eventual capture. It was not until the Lacey Act that made poaching a crime. First introduced by Iowa Congressman John Lacey in the House of Representatives in the spring of 1900. It was signed into law by President William McKinley on May 25, 1900. The Act prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported or sold.

Grand Teton National Park

Located only ten miles South of Yellowstone and established as a National Park in 1929, the park is often overshadowed by it's larger neighbor. The park is named after Grand Teton, the tallest mountain in the Teton Range. At 13,775 feet (4,199 m), Grand Teton abruptly rises more than 7,000 feet (2,100 m) above Jackson Hole valley. The park has numerous lakes, including the 15-mile-long Jackson Lake. Because of its proximity to Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park is one of the ten most visited national parks in the U.S., with an average of 2.5 million visitors annually. It is very popular with climbers and more "adventurous types". The Jackson area is also a popular skiing destination, and the town of Jackson has a number of high-end stores, restaurants and galleries, definitely worth a longer visit! While at the park we rented a small boat and took it out on the lake.