Ian and Margaret's RV Adventures travel blog

A Bald Eagle in a tree near a nest where . ....

another was feeding a chick.

Mallard ducks (I think) on the Madison River. It's actually a Trumpeter...

Except for this lonely fellow who apparently wintered over in the Park.

A quiet stretch of the Madison River. I just liked the piece...

An elk in the Madison River -- one of the few we...

Rustic Falls showing the impact of spring snow melt -- lots of...

A snow-covered lake on the way north to Mammoth Hot Springs.

A storm approaching in the distance over Mammoth Hot Springs.

Elk grazing on the lawn at the Mammoth Hot Springs hotel. They...

Are you looking at me?

They're just so magnificent I can't help but photograph them.

A young bison swimming across the Madison River -- huffing and blowing...

A bison calf nuzzling its mother -- it's feeding time, Mom!

A little sibling rivalry? This yearling kept pushing the calf away and...

An interesting sunset out our back window.

A Barrows Goldeneye seen at the edge of the ice on the...

Dead trees reflecting in snow melt near a geyser basin.

The Clepsydra Geyser at the Lower Geyser Basin.

Firehole Falls.

A 1955 Bel Air Chevrolet convertible in great condition (original owner), seen...

A Unicat conversion -- a heavy duty truck sometimes used for military...

Looking at the weather forecast for the week we decided that the early part of the week offered the best chance of good weather, so we pushed it to see all the things we wanted to. We figured if we got a clear day or so late in the week it would be a bonus.

Digression here:

I started writing this a couple of days ago, including a blow-by-blow description of our progress through the park, listing just about every place we got out of the car. When I read back over it, even I was bored! It was just too much like “we went here and then we went there and then we went somewhere else . . .” (yawn). So I decided to take another tack.

In the first two days we went into the Park we drove north to Mammoth Hot Springs and south around the Grand Loop, stopping at several geyser basins and Old Faithful, driving through areas with quite a bit of remaining snow in the forests (although thankfully not on the roads), crossed the Continental Divide several times and gawked at ice-covered lakes and streams. On Monday we made the whole lower Loop, past Old Faithful and West Thumb, stopped numerous times to marvel at ice-covered Yellowstone Lake, stopped at Fishing Bridge and drove a ways out the East Entrance Drive (looking for animals but not finding any), came back to the loop and drove north to Canyon (more about that later) and then drove through the middle of the park, back to the west side, through a construction area (our third time through there in three days – enough!) and back to West Yellowstone.

Three long days of driving, but we saw so many bison we didn’t even stop unless there were babies; some adorable bison calves with mothers and older siblings; quite a few elk; a couple of nesting bald eagles; a lone trumpeter swan who has apparently been here all winter; a nesting osprey; a couple of American white pelicans (who flew away before I could get a picture); several Barrow’s Goldeneye ducks and a couple of Mallards; a lonely sand hill crane (in a place where there was no way to stop and get a picture); too many ravens to count; a couple of bluebirds and magpies; and lots of Canada Geese, which I’ve seen too often on golf courses to get excited about. Also a mouse and several chipmunks. So far no bears and no wolves (at least in the wild). No deer, although we saw in the distance what we thought was an elk but it had a rack that was too big for an elk this time of year so it may have been a mule deer.

We saw a Unicat which, as you RVers might know, is a converted truck that looks a lot like a garbage truck (and sometimes is used for them). It’s an RV, though, and it appeared to come from Switzerland. Honestly it looks scary, but from the pictures I’ve seen of the RV conversions (some are included in the above link), they are quite nice inside, if a tad cramped. We saw it twice but never did figure out who it belonged to. I guess we could have staked it out until we saw who came back to it, but that felt a little too much like stalking for my comfort level.

So now you have the overview. On to the highlights.

Mostly we’re just loving being in the park, one of our favorite places on earth. It’s great being here so early in some ways (mostly because there are fewer people to be annoying and in-your-way) and we love seeing places still covered with snow (and Yellowstone Lake still completely frozen – how cool is that? No pun intended.) Also seeing the bison calves is seriously cool. They’re adorable (I heard a woman in one of the stores saying she’d love to go pick one up but the mother probably wouldn’t like it. Well, duh . . . .) The downside: One section of road, from Canyon to Tower, is still closed because it goes over Dunraven Pass, which is still pretty much snowed in; that, combined with the fact that the road through the construction area on the west side doesn’t open until 8 a.m., means it is pretty much impossible to get to the Lamar Valley early in the morning, which is the best time to see bears and wolves, unless you spend the night at Mammoth. Maybe some other time, but it just doesn’t work for us this year. Some of the Visitors’ Centers aren’t open yet, nor are they yet offering the Ranger-led hikes and other programs that we liked last year. It’s still too early for some of the birds.

Pictures on this post are from the first two days. The rest will be on subsequent posts.

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