I had too many pictures to post in one post, so I decided to split it into two. Lupines are common in both parks, and they are one of my favorites. Fringed Gentian grows in the thermal areas of Yellowstone. I tried to take a picture of a large patch of it at Midway Geyser Basin, but the picture didn’t turn out.Blue-eyed Grass is another one of my favorites. I think this one is Tall Groundsel. It’s been blooming in dryer areas of the park.Tapertip Onion grows wild here. It smells kind of garlicky.Shrubby Cinquefoil has been blooming for a while now. Yellow is not one of my favorite colors, but I like this flower. I’ll finish with another mystery flower. I’ve seen this one in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton, but I haven’t been able to figure out what it is. Any ideas?
Our wildflower season started early this year. Between work and visitors, I didn’t get much chance to go out and take pictures of the early blooms, so the photo above is from last year. I have been saving up flower pictures for a couple of months, and now seems like a good time to post them. This is Spearleaf Stonecrop. It’s a succulent that grows in dry, rocky areas of the park, which means it grows pretty much anywhere flat. I think this is a kind of Bluebell, but I’m not sure. Even with four flower books, I’m still not sure of the identification of some of the flowers.This one is Sticky Geranium with some sort of bug on it. There’s some that grows in our backyard. Common Hound’s-tongue is an invasive species that has moved into the park. It’s not as common as some of our other invasives, but I have seen it in a couple of different places. This is Coralroot, one of my favorites. It doesn’t photosynthesize. Instead, it gets its nutrients from decaying matter in the ground.There are many species of Beardstongue in the park, and this is one of them. I love the color.We also have a lot of Paintbrush species. This one was up in Yellowstone.I have more flower pictures, which I will post in a couple of days, but for now I will leave you with a mystery. I have no idea what this one is. It was growing in the thermal areas of Yellowstone, and the flowers were brilliant pink.
While it was just my mama here, we went up into Yellowstone for a couple of days.Of course, we went to Old Faithful, and waited for it to erupt.After the crowds at Old Faithful, we went down Firehole Lake Drive. It’s a pretty drive past many thermal features, but not many people take it, so we had easy views the whole way. This is Firehole Spring.Firehole Spring with White Dome Geyser erupting in the background. Great Fountain Geyser, along the drive, only erupts every eight hours or so, so we weren’t there for that, but we did get to see White Dome.After that drive, we went to Midway Geyser Basin, where we found parking almost right away. This is runoff from Excelsior Geyser Crater.We walked the loop past Excelsior Geyser Crater, and my mama loved the colors. Then we got to Grand Prismatic Spring.Even though it tends to be very crowded, I love all the colors on this walk, and I could sit there all day. We did sit there for quite a while, then headed home for the evening. The next day, she and I and Mr. Gecko drove through Hayden Valley to the Canyon area of Yellowstone. One of the first things we saw was a grizzly. Mr. Gecko took this picture. He and my mom got out to take pictures while I navigated the car through the bear jam. I had intended to pull over and look for myself, but they were finished taking pictures before I cleared the traffic, so we kept going.We saw quite a few bison along the drive.Not as many as that one memorable trip, but still an impressive number.We also stopped at Mud Volcano and Sulphur Cauldron. I tried to take video of Dragon’s Mouth Spring with my new camera. The video worked, but I recorded it sideways and haven’t figured out how to rotate it yet… Oh well.Of course we drove both sides of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and managed to find parking at all of our stops. It was a pair of beautiful days. I have a separate post of just the flowers that we saw, but that will wait for another day.
After stopping at West Thumb Geyser Basin with Mr. Gecko’s parents, we continued north into Yellowstone. We made a brief stop at an overlook for Lower Falls, where I took pictures of an osprey pair defending their nest.Then we continued across the park to Norris and turned north again to head to Mammoth Hot Springs, another area that I hadn’t visited before. To get there, you pass through an area known as the Golden Gate of Yellowstone. I was driving, so it wasn’t until we stopped at Mammoth that I realized that was where we had stopped and taken pictures.It was raining off and on when we got to Mammoth; the rain in this picture is falling on Fort Yellowstone. We stopped at the Upper Terraces first, and took the one way drive. These hot springs are outside of Yellowstone Caldera, and are built of travertine, a mineral that gets deposited by the hot water as it flows. The terraces it forms change rapidly.Some areas the water shifts course quickly…Other areas, it stops flowing over completely. These are called dormant terraces, because one never knows when the water will start flowing there again.The dried terraces form interesting shapes.Mr. Gecko thought this one looks like a face, and I agree with him.You can also find little baby terraces that haven’t been built up yet.Orange Spring Mound, on the way out of the one way drive, is another travertine formation. It has three hot springs flowing from it, and bacteria give it the orange coloring.I don’t know the name of this one, but I thought it was pretty. This one is Angel Terrace, and it’s on the way to the Lower Terraces. More rain had moved in by this point, so I didn’t take many pictures here.By the time we got to the main part of the Lower Terraces, the rain had turned to small hail. I was
stupid determined, though, so I got out of the car and walked over to see what was there. The hail got bigger.You can see the size of the hail in this picture. Also, the sleeve of my jacket. Shortly after I took this, I got hit in the ear by a chunk of hail. It really stung. As I was getting ready to turn around, the hail stopped, and I was able to take some more pictures.I love the colors in this terrace, Palette Spring.Stuck in the middle of it is Devil’s Thumb. This was our last stop for the day, other than a visit to the Albright Visitor Center and dinner in Gardiner. It’s a long drive back to Colter Bay from Mammoth, but it was worth it.
While Mr. Gecko’s parents were here a few weeks ago, we took them up into Yellowstone for the day. We had gone to Old Faithful and some of the other geyser basins on their last trip here, so this time we visited (mostly) new things. Our first stop was West Thumb Geyser Basin. West Thumb is a smaller geyser basin on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. It was a cool morning, so there was lots of steam. This part was a couple of hot springs and some mud cones. The mud cones used to shoot mud into the air, but they don’t anymore.The shore of Yellowstone Lake on a cool, misty morning. The board walk path through the geyser area takes you right to the lake shore, but this is not a good area for going off-trail.The thermal features here extend under the surface of the lake. In the winter, underwater geysers melt holes in the ice.The hot springs here are smaller than some of the ones in the other geyser basins, but they still have the beautiful bacterial growth around the edges. This is Fishing Cone. People used to fish for trout in the lake, then drop the fish into the hot water of the cone to cook it on the line. Fishing is no longer allowed here; hot springs are delicate enough that putting anything into the cone can cause a lot of damage. This is Black Pool. It used to be black from bacterial growth, but changes in the temperature of the water killed off those bacteria, and now the pool only grows things at the edges. Elk and other wildlife hang out in the thermal areas when it is cold outside. These two were not bothered by all the people taking their picture. Thermal areas fascinate me, and this one was no exception. Though it doesn’t have any active geysers, it’s got quite a lot going on. Stay tuned for the rest of our day in Yellowstone…