First trip to Yellowstone, Day 1

For those of you that think National parks are small, forget that about Yellowstone.  Just using a quick map spot, it is approximately 75 Miles Square with regions so diverse that they seem indifferent worlds.  We drove in from the west and entered the park through the town of West Yellowstone.  We hadn't gone 5 miles when we hit out first Animal jam.  When ever people see an animal, they do everything but stop in the middle of the road and take pictures.  Those that do keep moving slow to 5 MPH  and traffic backs up for a ways.  Without the road blockage over an elk and her baby it would have taken us over an hour to drive to the Mammoth Hot Springs hotel where we stayed our first two nights.  With the jam it took well over two hours.  Most of the park operations are located in the North End of the park at a slightly lower altitude at Either Mammoth Hot Springs or in Gardiner, Montanna.

Cute little critter will stop traffic in a moment.
When the Rail Road came to Gardiner,  Guests were put on a stage coach and they made the Grand Loop.  It was not cheap and the hotels and restaurants were opulant and gourmet. The workers that built Old Faithful Hotel made $2.50 a day and the rooms there were about $4.00 a night when it opened. There are now places where you can get a burger and fries but the restaurant food is still about the best you could expect.  Yes, it was not cheap but it was included in the cost of our trip.  Our first two nights were at mammoth Hot Springs Hotel in the north end of the park.  For some reason we weren't put in the main hotel but in some cute little cabins out behind the main hotel.  They were better than sleeping on the ground but not as nice as the hotel. They were also about a 4oo meter walk from the Restaurant.

Cabins at Mammoth Lodge

The first whole day of the trip we toured the Fort Yellowstone main post.  It is so much like Fort Leavenworth and Main post at Fort Riley that it wasn't funny.  The old Army buildings have been converted to use by the Park Service with the exception of the Chapel  and the post stockade.  Drive drunk, steal antlers or vandalize any of the park property and you will find your self in  the Stockade.  DUI is a 24 hour stay mandatory. 

Google Earth car visiting Mammoth
 Can you imagine how cool it was that someone convinced his boss to let him take the Google Earth Car to Yellowstone?  The old main post at Fort Yellowstone are in the background.

The park service has as their motto to protect the park today for the future.  I have little doubt that they are doing their best to allow millions of visitors each year to see what they saw in years past.  In fact there is no cell phone or e-mail connection in most places.  If you must connect there are a few places where you can sign up for Global Gossip at 5 bucks and hour but not everywhere.  I will talk more about that later.

Our tour was mainly load up on the bus and go to one neat site after another.  We saw hot springs, geysers and mud pots of all kinds of descriptions.  we walked 12,000 steps a day most days going around the park on wooden steps.  The ground was fragile and the earth very hot or caustic all over the park. 

 There are tours you can take from Mammoth in a 1937 Tour bus that looked like fun.  We were in an almost new bus with A/C.  We did get out to take pictures at some of the animal jams but up high, it was easy to get good pictures.  In fact you could take pictures of the herd of elk that come into mammoth area each day from the hotel lobby.

Stand by for day 2.


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