The South Entrance

South Entrance Yellowstone

At the South Entrance  my Senior pass again allowed me entrance to the park. Moose Falls was just a short distance after the entrance. There’s a pull out so you can park and an easy trail to the top of the falls.  I grabbed the camera and wandered over to take a look. I had been told that the trail went to the bottom of the falls but I didn’t see it. Photos from the top would have to do for now. There was a nice water flow. I wonder what it’s like in the spring when you have the creek swollen with the snow melt.

Moose Falls near South Entrance


Crawfish CreekCrawfish Creek

The bridge over Crayfish Creek was visible from the top of the falls. Bridge over Crayfish Creek

Crawfish Creek must be affected by the geo thermal activity in the area because it’s temperature is unusually warm for a Wyoming mountain Stream. It’s these warm temperatures that make the waters a suitable habitat for the crawfish that give the Creek it’s name. The creek begins in the southern portion of the Yellowstone Volcanic area and feeds into the Lewis River.

The Lewis River and Canyon

Leaving Moose Falls I entered a portion of the park where the road was lined by tall straight pine. These are called lodge pole pines and are very common in this section of the park. My Gaperguide was explaining about the role the lodge pole pines play in the natural spread of fire and new growth throughout the park. Interesting but not really scenic. I was apparently driving along the Lewis River named for Meriweather Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame.  Gaperguide told me to watch for beavers and lodges but the tree growth was too dense to spot anything. Finally as I rounded a curve the vista opened up and I got my first look at Lewis Canyon.

Lewis Canyon Yellowstone


Yellowstone, The First National Park

America’s First National Park

America’s first national park is named after the river that runs through it. Yellowstone National Park is a nearly 3,500-sq.-mile wilderness recreation area atop a volcanic hot spot. Within the park’s massive boundaries, visitors can find mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls and some of the most concentrated geothermal activity in the world. The park has 60% of the world’s geysers, as well as hot springs and mud pots. It is also home to diverse wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, bison and elk.

The Lower Loop

The Grand  Loop Road is a figure 8 that can be divided into the upper and lower loops. When I picked up my Gaperguide I was told that some people have driven the whole loop in one day but it was not recommended. I might only get here once in my life so I didn’t want to rush through it.

Once again I was up at dawn. The ever helpful Valet brought my car around and I headed out with Yellowstone my plan for the day.  First I would have to retrace some of my drive from yesterday. It’s approximately 60 miles From Jackson to the South Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, most of it through the beautiful Grand Teton National Park.

Mountains and Lake

On The Road To YellowstoneJackson Lake

The Tetons are so beautiful. I should have put the pedal to the metal and booked it to the South Entrance to Yellowstone but I couldn’t do it. I had to keep stopping for more scenic photos. The Jackson Lake area is another spectacular location. I was also a bit nervous about what the scents would be like in Yellowstone. I’ve been to hot springs before and the smell of sulfur (rotten eggs) can be almost overwhelming. What would it be like in a super volcano? I’d never read anything about smells but I’d read a lot about the geysers and thermal vents.

Yellowstone’s South Entrance

Snake River basin

Yellowstone National Park SignMy Gaperguide warned me to slow down. The entrance to the park was coming up. I stopped for the Yellowstone sign and got out. I looked out over the Snake River Basin and spotted my first puffs of steam . The wind was in my face so I sniffed cautiously. It wasn’t bad. I had to really concentrate to pick up any sulfur order at all. That made me feel much better about this excursion.

Thermal Vents at South Entrance

Are We Done Yet?

Day is Done, Gone the Sun (Almost)

Mount Moran

Is this day done yet? It’s been awesome but I’m starting to get tired. The views have been amazing and I saw a little wildlife. It was a lot of driving!

Prong Horn

That pronghorn trotting down the center line was just about the frosting on the cake. Talk about a close encounter! Its just a little bit farther to Moran Junction and from there home to Teton Village.

Mule DeerThis day is Not Done with me yet

I passed through the park exit to reach the Visitor Center and Moran Junction. As I crossed over the little bridge near the Visitor Center I noticed a car pulled to the shoulder. What are they looking at? Tired as I was I couldn’t pass up checking it out.  There were 2 beautiful mule deer standing in the field near the river.


Mule Deer and MeMule Deer

The deer were as still as statues. As I sat watching I began to wonder if someone had put a decoy out there. Not even the ears were moving.  I watched some more. Finally one took a step. The other continued to stare at me all that way across the field. I wished for the binoculars that I forgot to pack or my big lens. I only had my  300 mm. It’s good but not for that far away.

The Proof is in the photo

Finally I got out of my car and walked across the road. It got me a little closer but the deer didn’t spook. I braced myself against a tree trunk and opened the lens up all the way. Voila! This is what I got. They are certainly a healthy looking pair. But now it was really time to head back.

2 mule deer

The Sleeping Indian

As I pulled into Teton Village I spotted a mountain formation known as the Sleeping Indian. You can see the headdress. The 2nd mountain is like his breastplate. Can you see it?

Sleeping Indian

Jenny Lake Junction

Beautiful Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake

Heading toward the Tetons I had Jenny Lake in my plans for my next stop.  My Gaperguide was busy pointing out the various canyons  I could see from the road and the trail heads. Death Canyon, String Lake , Granite Canyon, Lupine Meadows were just a  few hikes accessible from the inner loop. The Jenny Lake area is undergoing reconstruction. The Jenny Lake Turnout was open with lovely views of The mountains and lake.  The wind was beginning to blow so wandering around was starting to get chilly. It was late afternoon so I decided it was time to head back to the resort.

A Prong Horn Surprise

Pronghorn herdBetween Jenny Lake and the park exit there are a series of plains and other small lakes such as  Taggart Lake.  There are pull outs and observation stops along the way. The late afternoon scenery was beautiful. As I motored along admiring the view I spotted a large number of cars pulled over. People were standing by their cars or the side of the road. I wanted to see what had everyone’s attention so I pulled over too. This was my first experience with the wildlife lookers. It was a “critter jam”. The folks weren’t just tourists. Some were serious photographers. Some people seem to have access to a phone app or maybe an alert system of some sort letting them know when there are animals to be seen. 

Here he comes!Prong Horn Buck

This group was watching a small herd of pronghorns. They were fairly close to the road making it easy to get photos from the car. It reminded me of the vacation in South Dakota. The prong horn were everywhere out there. As I was shooting the pronghorns from my car I became aware of a bit of commotion ahead of me. People were scattering and I heard clattering on the pavement. I barely got my lens pulled in when a Prongthorn buck came trotting down the center line between all of the parked cars. Surprise!. We were all up close and personal with this little buck.

Jackson Lake and Signal Mountain.

Jackson Lake is a Huge, High Altitude  Lake

Jackson Lake

Jackson Lake is located in the Northwest corner of Wyoming in Grand Teton National Park. It’s a natural lake that has been enlarged by a dam built in 1911 and rebuilt in 1989. A water treaty between Wyoming and Idaho reserves the top 33 ft of water for Idaho farmers to use for irrigation. The Snake River feeds into the lake.  There’s a rest area and picnic tables near the dam. The road splits at Jackson lake. The right fork heading north toward Yellowstone and the left fork continuing along the dam to pick up the inner loop road.

Jackson Lake Lodge , Colter Bay Village and Leeks Marina (Said to have the best pizza in the Park!) are all on the right fork. I was headed to the left and the Inner loop.

Signal Mountain Lodge

Signal Mountain LodgeThe Inner loop road soon brings you to Signal Mountain Lodge. It was one of the few places still open for the off season. I pulled in to a large parking lot. There were gas pumps as well as restaurant and gift shop. It was about time for lunch so a break was in order. I wasn’t looking for huge meal so I was considering their chicken soup when a nearby diner’s sandwich floated past. It was a BLT so that settled it. I requested chips as opposed to fries and was surprised when the plate came with hot, home made potato chips. They were amazing! The meal proved to be way too much food so a doggy bag left with me. 



The Inner LoopThe Base of the Teton Range

I topped off the gas tank and headed south on the inner loop road. It was winding it’s way down Signal Mountain. The Gaperguide recommended taking a detour up to the lookout but the road was closed for the season. Hikers could still get there but no vehicles. Once off the mountain the road stretched out before me heading right toward the base of the Tetons. I watched the fields and plains for animals but other than a hawk  diving for his lunch I didn’t see anything.