Day 6, Saturday, July 29, 2017
After spending quite a bit of time at the Lamar Valley watching all of the wildlife, coffee was in order, so we headed over to the Tower area to see Tower Falls. There is a small Ranger Station there too that has its own stamp! It also had a nice visual of the wolf packs in the park, so you can tell which pack you are watching. Outside there was a beautiful deer just begging to be photographed!
Tower Fall has a 132 foot drop, where it then joins with the confluence of the Yellowstone River. It was named in 1928 for the large rock formations at the top of the fall that look like towers. There is an overlook, or you can hike down a half mile to the base of the falls. We didn’t hike down to it, but it is certainly on the to-do list; the view looks like it is fantastic! Tower Fall has a General Store too, perfect for a coffee pick-me-up after an early morning!
Did you know that Yellowstone National Park has petrified wood? It even has a petrified tree – still standing! We stopped for a look; it is just a short walk from the parking area. While there we also saw a Uinta Ground Squirrel! These little guys are so cute! We also saw a group trail riding on horseback – that would be a fun way to see the park sometime.
We were ready for lunch by the time we hit the Fort Yellowstone picnic area. More Uinta Ground Squirrels were popping up out of their burrows on the lawn!
A visit to Mammoth Hot Springs and a walk on the raised boardwalk was next – I was glad to give this area a bit more attention since my mom and I hadn’t stopped here on our previous trip the year before. I loved the travertine terraces – they are stunning! They have been formed over thousands of years, as heated spring water carries calcium carbonate and deposits it as it cools. The travertine is white, but the algae in the thermal water creates brown, orange, red and green features.
The kids enjoyed wandering on the boardwalks, but I think they got a little bored by the terraces; I didn’t though – the view was gorgeous! My one niece was a little grumpy, so we started pointing out poop piles to her – because there are few more effective ways to annoy a pre-teen girl… The kids were troopers though and we went all the way to the top of the lower terraces, despite the heat.
Our drive back to camp took us south, where we stopped at Sheepeater Cliff – a columnar formation. It is really cool to see!
We wandered a little bit along the river there too. We saw people swimming in the Firehole River on the drive back too; this is one of the few river areas where you are permitted to swim.
We got back to camp and I took a nap in my tent during yet another rainstorm. There is something very peaceful about the patter of raindrops on the rain fly as you sleep… It didn’t last all night though, and we had a campfire after dinner – the family hung out and roasted marshmallows. Perfect!
Distance for the Day: Driving within park
Canyon Campground, Yellowstone National Park: $30 per night for a tent site