When it comes to pictures of Yellowstone National Park, you’ve probably seen them all: the Old Faithful geyser in action, the rainbow colors of the Morning Glory pool from above and the Grand Canyon with its upper and lower falls. So, I thought I’d make this post a little bit different. Here are 15 original impressions of Yellowstone in the fall. Minus the cliches!
1. Misty moments
It’s a common sight in Yellowstone: walking trails disappearing in the rising steam of the geysers. Most people wait until the steam is gone to take a picture, but I quite like how the mist changes the surroundings, turning a clear sunny day into a mysterious wonderland.
Where? At the Norris Geyser basin.
2. Fried pine twigs
Walk around Mammoth Hot Springs and gaze into the active hot springs. This is what you’ll see: fried pine needles and twigs. Or at least that’s what they look like. In reality the twigs that fall into the shallow waters are encased with mineral deposits. When the spring dries up, the twigs will turn into the white travertine rock that characterizes the terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs.
Where? The Canary Springs in Mammoth.
3. The right place at the right time
A common view throughout Yellowstone: photographers who have set up their tripods and cameras and are standing there, staring at the mountainside, waiting for wildlife to appear. Some people spend the whole day out there, waiting for that one perfect shot.
Where? Lamar Valley, one of the most popular areas in the park for wildlife spotting.
4. Deep blue lake and snow-capped peaks
In the front: the Yellowstone lake, the biggest lake in the park (132 square miles). In the back: the snow-capped peaks of the Absaroka Mountain Range. Nature sure knows how to put on a show out here.
Where? Right behind the Yellowstone Lake Hotel.
5. Find the grizzly
No one knows exactly how many bears are roaming around the park, but if you see one during your stay, you’re definitely considered lucky. We spotted a mother grizzly (actually we spotted the parked cars from the people who had spotted the grizzly), joined the party and were able to take this shot. No 500 m zoom, no special effects. This is how bear spotting is most likely to be in real life.
Where? At the Madison Junction.
6. The iconic yellow bus
The iconic yellow bus from the inside, taken with my GoPro. The buses were built in de 1930s and used for tours, when private transport was not yet allowed in Yellowstone. As soon as people could enter in their own cars, the old buses were no longer desirable and sold to different parties across the globe. In 2007 a dozen of them were recollected, refurbished and reintroduced in the park. The open roof is a great feature on a sunny day!
Where? On an ‘Evening wildlife encounter Tour’ near the Tower-Roosevelt Area.
7. Spotting bison
Chances of seeing bison in Yellowstone: 100%. And yet, it never gets tired. Even seeing the shadows of these majestic mammals through the trees is a treat.
Where? Near the lower geyser basin.
Dead trees are a common attraction in the park. Their bare poles, along with the geothermal landscape, provide some very strange and unearthly views like this one.
Where? The main terrace area at Mammoth.
9. The Canyon slopes
Everyone has their eyes on the upper falls when overlooking Yellowstones Grand Canyon, but the colorful mountain slopes are equally enchanting. It’s like looking at a painting!
Where? The grand view at the Grand Canyon.
10. ‘Shooting’ deer
Even though it’s continuously discouraged to hit the breaks on the main roads to take pictures, people do it all the time. Fortunately for this guy, there was no one behind him so he could go ahead and block the road. I think the view we had from the other side was better though! No shooting allowed in the park, unless it involves a camera.
Where? Near the north entrance of the park.
11. Smoke alarm
There are thousands of geysers, hot springs, bubbling mud pots and steam vents throughout Yellowstone national park. The geothermal mist caused by this underground activity will sometimes catch you by surprise. If it wasn’t for the smell of sulfur, I could look at it for hours. It has that same calming, almost hypnotic effect of a fireplace.
Where? Near Roaring Mountain.
12. Lonely looking sky
Don’t forget to look up every now and then during your visit because the sky may have a few surprises in store. We noticed this lovely bright colored cloud while heading back to the hotel from our Yellow Bus Tour. The bus driver pulled over so that we could take a picture.
Where? Near the Tower junction.
13. Nature’s spectacle
Mammoth hot springs left quite the impression on me, so here’s one more picture of that area. All of the terraces were pretty much dried up, apart from this one. The mist, the drops of water seeping from the rocks and the bright white travertine rocks create a weirdly beautiful spectacle.
Where? Palette Spring in Mammoth.
14. Frozen flowers
Visiting Yellowstone in the fall means that you should be prepared for sudden snow showers. They come and go just like that but they leave something behind: very thin layers of ice on the grass and flowers. Even the smallest stalks and leaves now have a white glow. You think these are white flowers? It’s all ice!
Where? Near Bridge Bay.
15. Mighty bison
See? You never get tired of bison in Yellowstone. You’ll find them rolling around in the dirt, walking around the geysers, grazing in big herds and even crossing the streets. And every time you’ll want stop for a few minutes and observe.
Where? Near Hayden Valley.
Special thanks to Mitch who blogs at Exploratorius.us, for sharing his tips on where to go and what to see in and around Yellowstone NP.
Good to know
- Temporary closures are always possible in the park. In our case, Craig Pass road was closed for the season (end of September) and the road from Norris to Mammoth was closed for maintenance just a few hours after we drove through. Check the closures before you book hotels or plan your route! See http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/roadclosures.htm.
- Places to stay inside the park: we stayed at the Lake Hotel and Mammoth Hot Springs hotel. It may be more expensive than spending the night outside of the park, but it saves you a lot of time and fuel money. Plus, nothing beats waking up to the sounds, the colors and the wonders of Yellowstone.
- More information: www.yellowstonenationalpark.com & www.facebook.com/wildwestusa