July 27, 2015 Canyon, Yellowstone N. P.

IMG_0657Our last four days in Yellowstone were scheduled to be dry camping at two campgrounds in the park.  But very unseasonably cold weather with nightly temperatures around 30 degrees and my being on medication for shingles convinced us we needed to look for some place else.  The only full hookup campground in the park was booked solid.  Bill found a national forest campground near the small town of West Yellowstone located right outside the west entrance of the park.  The campground had a small number of nonreservable electric sites available on a first come basis.  We got up really early and drove to the campground where we waited for someone to leave so we could grab an electric site.  By 10:00 AM we were all set up in our new site.

When the doctor gave me the pills for shingles she was five pills short and neither of the other two clinics in the park had pills for me.  She gave me a prescription so we headed into West Yellowstone to have the prescription filled.  Not much to say about West Yellowstone except it has a very nice Visitors Center with friendly helpful volunteers, a couple food markets, a few gas stations, one pharmacy, a McDonalds and several hotels, restaurants and gift shops.  Typical tourist town.

By the time we got back home a cold steady rain was falling and the temperatures were in the upper 40’s and falling.  I made some chili and we stayed inside where we were warm and very very thankful to have heat and electricity.  The next few nights the temperature dipped to near freezing.  This campground made for a bit longer drive back into the park to do activities, but it was well worth the extra drive.

IMG_0656Yellowstone National Park has geysers and wild animals and gorgeous scenery.  Would you believe on top of all that it also has a grand canyon?  I kid you not.  It is called The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River and it is a beauty!  The canyon is from a lava flow 484,000 years ago.  It is mainly made of rhyolite rock.  Past and current hydrothermal activity weakened and altered the rock, making it softer.  The Yellowstone River eroded these weakened rocks to deepen and widen the canyon, a process continuing today.  The canyon is 20 miles long, more than 1,000 feet deep, between 1,500 and 4,000 feet wide and has two beautiful waterfalls.IMG_20150730_130825IMG_0652


Lower Falls


Upper Falls

It took us several days of driving and walking quite a few trails to see the canyon and waterfalls.  One end of the canyon begins at the 308 foot tall Lower Falls which may have formed because the river flows over volcanic rock more resistant to erosion than rocks downstream.  The same is true for the 109 foot Upper Falls.IMG_0653IMG_0667IMG_0678IMG_20150730_130729


Brink of the Lower Falls

We walked trails that led us to the brink of both the Upper and Lower Falls.  The Upper Falls trail was easy but the Lower Falls trail involved a steep drop with thirteen switchbacks.  Going down was easy but coming back up was….well you can imagine.  Luckily it was a cool day with a nice breeze and they had benches along the trail to rest.  It was a great view and workout!  There is a viewpoint on the South Rim called Artists Point with gorgeous views of the Lower Falls and the canyon.  The weather was overcast while we were at Artist Point but Bill still got some great pictures.

The North Rim side of the canyon has a 1.2 mile drive with multiple stopping points along the way with amazing views of the canyon.

We took a longer hike on the South Rim Trail which led us along the canyon rim with views of the canyon and both falls.  At one point we came to a great view of the Upper Falls.  I love how there always seems to be a rainbow!  We stood at the overlook and enjoyed the view while talking with a family from Holland who was spending their summer touring the West in their rented RV.IMG_20150730_141027IMG_20150730_140810IMG_20150730_140128IMG_0654

Every day there seems to be more and more to love about this wonderful park.  What an amazing place!!

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