~ Yellowstone in Winter Part 2 ~

During my two days at Yellowstone, I drove all available open roads within the northern section of the park. The first day I drove south past Mammoth Hot Springs toward Norris as far as the road crews would allow. It wasn't all that far, perhaps fifteen miles.
On Day Two, I headed east on the Tower Road toward Tower Junction. That road was open about 20 miles or more. Both trips were out and back, because there is no way to get a vehicle, other than a snowmobile, over other park roads in winter.
I had planned to take a Snow Coach tour while I was there, but found that Yellowstone is still a wealthy man's park. The prices were way out of my budget. Much of the park is run by private enterprise and they charge pretty much what they want. A tour of about eight hours was in excess of $175. When I visited Denali National Park in Alaska, I took a eleven hour bus tour and it cost under $40, as I recall.
I can only think that, if the Bush Administration had been successful in privatizing the entire Park System, I would not be taking this trip, at least not to the National Parks.


Horace M. Albright Visitor Center


Historic Fort Yellowstone and Other Things



From 1886 until the creation of the National Park Service in 1916, the United States Army was responsible for the administration and management of Yellowstone National Park.
The row of buildings in the photos is part of Historic Fort Yellowstone. These structures were built in three pahses between 1891 and 1913 to serve as Army Headquarters and to accomodate the troops assigned to the park.
Today most of the buildings are employee residences. The Albright Visitor Center is the only building open to the public.


My first stop on Day Two was Undine Falls, which was frozen over, but not stopped.

See the water behind the ice


Parts of Yellowstone River Canyon

A couple of panoramas of Yellowstone National Park



Mountains and Forests




Before 1988, a large stand of Douglas Fir grew here. Armed with thick bark, Douglas Fir often survive surface fires. Surface fires clear underbrush and deadfall and add valuable nutrients to the soil. However, the fires of 1988 were driven by fierce wind, which drove the flames up through brush and branches. Many Douglas Fir succumbed to intense crown fire. Crown fires burn the forest canopy. They burn more intensely, travel faster and burn more thoroughly than surface fires.

Boulder with a hat

A tidal wave of snow


Phantoms, Creeks and Mountains


The beauty of Yellowstone


It's not really there

Evidence of wildlife was all around

The plows were busy all day


Lava Creek on both sides of the Tower Road




The Campground



I spent one night (a very cold night as I could not run the generator after 10:00 PM) at Mammoth Campground. I was the only camper there that night. I believe that is where I lost my Golden Age Park Pass.


Yellowstone Wildlife



The animal of the day for Day Two was the Bison. There are presently about 3000 bison living in Yellowstone. The number peaked at about 3500 in 1996.
The bison (Species Bison bison), also known as the buffalo, is the largest land mammal in North America. In a typical year, more than 3,000 bison roam the grasslands of Yellowstone National Park. Bulls are more massive in appearance than cows, and more bearded. Bulls may reach a weight of 2000 pounds and cows weigh in at around 1000 pounds. For their size, bison are agile and quick, capable of speeds in excess of 30 mph. Each year, bison injure park visitors who approach too closely.




Those dots on the left of the photo on the right are bison.


A challenger for the right of way

When the snow plow came back in the other direction, this guy (or gal) took off for the side of the road in front of me and landed shoulder deep in the snow. When they say bison are agile and quick, believe them.

Challenger Bison


Most of the bison pictured were cows and many will have given birth to one calf in April or May

Bison walking

Two bison walking


Meanwhile back at the Fort, this elk doe was taking a stroll. Look! She's taking the Fort Yellowstone Walking Tour.

Elk Stroll


On the way out of Yellowstone, I caught this group of mule deer


Last looks


Just north of the North Entrance to Yellowstone is the town of Gardiner, Montana. These two photos pretty much cover the whole town. It's what we might call a tourist trap.

Leaving Yellowstone


Music is "Where Would You Be?"

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