It seems we’ve departed planet earth and landed on the Moon. The vistas looks vaguely familiar, with pine trees and wildflowers, but everywhere we turn there is some strange upside down waterfall, or a hole in the ground blowing steam high into the blue sky. Pools of boiling water in all colors send steam high into the morning sun creating rainbows and eerie, ghostly views. Sometimes we find mud burping out of a smelly pit, creating big muddy bubbles on the surface that blow in the wind, with overwhelming smells, and steamy sauna winds. What is this place?
Well, it’s a strange and somewhat unsettling place known as roche jaune*. It’s a caldera, it’s a hot spot, it’s a crazy place! It’s amazing to think that you’re walking around a very active and lively hot spot and that the volcano below you is still changing the surface and is only just sleeping. Shhhhhh!
This is our first time to Yellowstone National Park, and it certainly didn’t disappoint! We avoided the masses of selfie snapping tourists and their stinky buses by getting up at the crack of dawn and entering the park before the Rangers had even arrived at the gates. By starting early we were able to see incredible sunrises through the steam rising off the rivers, and wildlife that was calm and well, wild. It was the best time of the day.
We’d head of our chosen destination, park the car in a nearly empty parking lot and start off on a hike to somewhere. We usually missed all the crowds with the exception of getting back to the truck and getting out of the parking lot. Some days we just plunked ourselves along the edge of a valley with coffee and our comfy chairs and watched the elk and the buffalo roam. We did a fair amount of people watching too, a.k.a. laughing at the Johnny Jackasses as they parked in the middle of the road, sometimes even jumping out of their cars to get a photo of some critter along the road. It was fairly amazing.
We loved our visit to Yellowstone, and may return again someday, that is if the caldera doesn’t blow by then!
Here are a few of the gazillion photos we took…enjoy!
First….the upside down waterfalls…a.k.a. geysers.
The hot springs…
And of course, the boiling pools and mudpots…
* Near the end of the 18th century, French trappers named the river Roche Jaune, which is probably a translation of the Hidatsa name Mi tsi a-da-zi “Yellow Rock River”.