~ Yellowstone in Winter Part 1 ~

Since I visited Yellowstone in August of 2002, I have wanted to see it in the wintertime. It took nine and a half years, but mission accomplished.
Established by Congress and signed into law by President Grant in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is America's first national park. Located in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, it is home to a large variety of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk. Preserved within Yellowstone National Park are Old Faithful and a collection of the world's most extraordinary geysers and hot springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
The human history of the Yellowstone region goes back more than 11,000 years. From about 11,000 years ago to the very recent past, many groups of Native Americans used the park as their homes, hunting grounds, and transportation routes. These traditional uses of Yellowstone lands continued until a little over 200 years ago when the first people of European descent found their way into the park. In 1872 a country that had not yet seen its first centennial established Yellowstone as the first national park in the world. A new concept was born and with it a new way for people to preserve and protect the best of what they had for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.

For a look at my first visit to Yellowstone in 2002 and some really young photos of me the links are below.

Yellowstone National Park
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River
Yellowstone Geysers


On the drive to the park entrance on US Route 89 I saw the Yellowstone River partially frozen over

The Yellowstone Entrance Arch

My first attempt was an "OOPS!"

First wildlife, an elk herd at rest

Elk feeding

Cliffs, mountains and snow in abundance, then on to Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs

In these photos that which appears as fog is hot steam from the springs. The temperature of the springs is around 180°.

On left is Liberty Cap a dormant hot spring cone. The right photo is of steps of Minerva Terrace eroded by the flow from the springs.
The delicate travertine formations around this area were all created by hot spring water. Heated by Yellowstone's volcano, water travels through buried limestone, then bubbles to the surface to deposit travertine gathered from the limestone.
Named for the Roman goddess of art, Minerva Hot Spring sculpted Minerva Terrace. The spring sometimes flows abundantly, while other times is completely dry.

Snow and near-boiling water

Hot Spring

Shimmering in this hot spring is a living palette of color. Billions of heat-loving microorganisms called "thermophiles" carpet the spring. Spirulina is just one of many thermophiles living at Mammoth Hot Springs. Scientists study these thermophiles and their habitats to determine whether other worlds might support life.

Looking down from Mammoth Hot Springs toward the Visitor Center and the buildings of Fort Yellowstone.

I would eventually climb to the overlook on the rise on the left. There I could see the view in the right photo and the view of the Visitor Center complex below left. The Hot Spring below right is near the rise.
The climb from the parking lot to the overlook on the rise was about 350 feet change in elevation. I had walked all of the trails, when I was here in 2002, but nothing looked familiar.

There were some really cool snow formations and the trail ends here. Some places you just couldn't go. The maintenance crews kept some of the trails open, but that was a full-time job.

New Blue Spring on the Main Terrace

Another dormant spring

Trees praying for spring

Another Main Terrace Spring

A couple more views from the overlook

On the right is a close up of the scalloping effect of the spring on the left

The bridge on the right is just to the right and below center of the photo on the left. It crosses the Yellowstone River.

A couple of more springs whose names were not available to me (lack of signs) and a distant look of the Hot Springs Terrace below right.

Back at Fort Yellowstone

And then there was wildlife

Wildlife of Yellowstone

It's been a long day

Elk herd at rest
I ran across this elk herd when I drove to near the park entrance to get a phone signal to call Mom. It was the largest herd I saw this visit.

Elk Herd

Elk Herd

On the way back to the Visitor Center, I spotted this big horn sheep feeding along the river.

Big Horn Sheep

He was eating patiently and I was taking his photo just as patiently.

Close up

Bull elk
The bull elk stopped to pose, then ran across the road and into the woods

Next I ran across this Mule deer near the river. He just wanted a drink of water.

The end of the first day found another herd of elk grazing by a stream

Music is "Only Time"

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