Na koniec zwiedzania Mommoth Hot Springs możemy zajrzeć do Albright Visitor Center, znajdującego się w jednym z budynków historycznego Fortu Yellowstone.
Something about the Mommoth Hot Springs
The terraces are constantly evolving. Their shape changes relatively to thermal activity of the underground waters. When the activity increases or decreases, the terraces can loose their colors, as the bacteria responsible for them loose the environment that they require to survive. The same terraces can look very differently after a few years.
Mommoth Hot Springs is a subject of intensive biological and even astrobiological research. The organisms that can be found here are a representation of the earliest existing life forms on Earth. Here many scientists study the paths of evolution, and analyze the possibilities for extra-terrestrial life to exist.
Now you will have to choose: you can either leave Wyoming and head to Montana to see the Roosevelt Arch, or keep going down the Grand Loop Road towards the area of the park called the Tower-Roosevelt. The drive to Montana will take you no more than 15 minutes, as it is only 5 miles away, and you will reach Gardiner – a town established in 1880 which used to serve as a base for tourists visiting Yellowstone. At that time huge crowds of one thousand of them would come to Yellowstone every year. 😉
In 1903 railroads reached Yellowstone. The tourists were finally able to disembark on a train station and they kept sightseeing the park on horses. None of the railroads reaching Yellowstone survived to this day, as they had all been demolished.
Roosevelt Arch is one of the most famous landmarks in Yellowstone. It was built in 1903 to thank President Roosevelt for the establishment of the national park, but also to commemorate all of his other contributions. The construction was overseen by the military stationed in Fort Yellowstone, and the President himself placed the cornerstone. A time capsule containing a bible, a local newspaper and a picture of Roosevelt had also been placed there. At the top of the arch it states: “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People”, and the park serves this purpose up to this day.
I personally think that you should go and see this arch, but we ourselves were not too excited about it, as wee stayed in a hotel right next to it, and after driving underneath it we focused solely on how not to fall into a hole in our room’s floor.
No matter if you took a trip to Montana or not, we now head towards the Tower-Roosevelt. The Undine Falls are going to be our first stop. This is a very scenic waterfall with a couple of cascades. You can already see it from the parking lot. You can reach the waterfall itself by going on a 8.7 mile (14 km) hike both ways. We did not go there, but I feel like it wouldn’t be worth it. Still, there are some waterfalls in Yellowstone which are definitely worth a 15 mile (25 km) hike, which can rise up to 18.5 miles (30 km) if you get lost, but I will write about them in future posts. 😉
One mile further, on the other side of the road, the Wraith Falls are located. You can reach them after a short 0.8 mile (1,3km) hike both ways. During our visit here in August the waterfall almost disappeared , with only small water streams dripping from the rocks. If you are not visiting in spring or early summer I suggest skipping these falls.
And Perhaps you would like to see a bear?
Now a little insider tip – in a moment we will be passing through a place, where it is said that you are guaranteed to meet a bear. After a 2.8 mile drive, right behind the Blacktail Creek trailhead, you will notice a parking lot covered in rubble, and behind it – infinite meadows. These meadows are said to be a popular place among bears. So let us go for a walk and look around, bringing binoculars might be a good idea.
We ourselves didn’t even need to look around. What is the most obvious sign of bear presence? A park ranger’s car. If you happen to notice a park ranger car parked at the side of the road, you can be almost certain that next to it you will find a bear. This is a well-known fact among tourists, so the area around the ranger’s car is usually quickly filled with tourist vehicles. This was the case for us, there were both the bear and the ranger. It was taking a walk on the meadow, and later it climbed a tree and posed beautifully for pictures.
In our case the visit here payed off and I hope that you will be lucky as well. But keep in mind that bears are dangerous animals and you have to watch them from a distance. When you are going into the wild be sure to equip yourself with a bear spray and learn how to use it. In case a bear starts charging at you, you will not have time to read the manual. Generally, when you can clearly see that the animal intends to attack, grab your spray, unlock it, and release it in the bear’s direction, aiming below its head. You should always carry your spray on your belt, as it has to be easily accessible. Searching for it inside your backpack is an easy way to try out your medical insurance.
Now we will be heading towards the Calcite Spring Overlook. A short trail measuring 0,25 miles (0,4 km) both ways will take you to the ridge of the Yellowstone River Canyon. There is a viewing platform at the end of the trail. From here you will have a beautiful view of the yellow cliffs, the emerald river and the hydrothermal springs dyeing the colorful canyon walls. A row of basalt columns decorates the upper canyon walls. The view from the Calcite Spring Overlook is a subject of many paintings.
The Overhanging Cliff is going to be our next stop. It is a canyon slope with basalt columns unveiled by erosion. The pretties view awaits at the other side of the road. From here we have a panorama of the canyon and Yellowstone River . The walls of the canyon are decorated with rows of hexagonal columns.
The Tower Fall will be our last stop of the day. You should stop at a large parking lot in front of the Tower Fall General Store. Here we have a fairly large viewing platform with an excellent view of the 130 feet (40 m) high waterfall. What is exceptionally charming about this cascade are the volcanic columns looking like stone teeth, from between which the waterfall flows. The Tower Fall got its name from one of those stone teeth. It once stood right at the beginning of the cascade but in 1986 it fell down. After leaving the viewing platform you will have the possibility to take a 1 mile (1,6 km) trail descending to the Yellowstone River, but it is a steep trail, as you will have to beat 230 feet (70 m) of elevation change. Given that nothing amazing awaits at down at canyon, as the trail to the bottom of the waterfall has been closed by the park, you can skip this walk.
Now we head back to our base of operations via the eastern side of the loop. We will be passing through the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, so if you missed somethig the last day, you can catch up now.
In the next post I will describe the third day in Yellowstone and I will prepare a sightseeing plan for people with only 2 days to spare for a visit.
You can find day 3 of visiting Yellowstone here: