We visited Yellowstone in July of 2005. The photo below was taken at the edge of Lake Yellowstone in the area called West Thumb. I won a reader travel photo contest on the Dallas Morning News website with this shot. I have a copy in my den on the wall.
The next photo was taken at dusk on Lewis Lake, which is on the west side of the road as you drive into Yellowstone from the southern entrance. At the time I took the photo, I didn't know I had captured the canoe right in the reflection. So, it turned out to be a really cool shot.
Below is a photo of one of the two big falls on the northeast side of the southern half of Yellowstone. We spent a week in Tetons and Yellowstone, and we didn't go to the northern half at all. That's how big the place is, if you've never been. Huge. And other-worldly. Like you're on another planet at times with all the stuff coming up out of the ground. The park rangers tell you Yellowstone is just a giant volcano that if it were to go off, we'd all be blown to smithereens for hundreds and thousands of miles. It's a calming thought while you're there. Really. But, as you can see, the beauty is amazing as well.
The parks are known for the wildlife that thrives there, sometimes as a haven for species that aren't thriving anywhere else. The next two photos are of the bison you see throughout the southern half of the park (and maybe the northern half too - I just wouldn't know!) This guy was sleeping in a mudhole basin.
This is a more typical shot of herds of bison all together on the vast prairies as they open up along the middle eastern edge of the south half of the park.
Other wildlife that we saw were bald eagles, moose, wolves, coyotes, elk, fish, and, below, this one grizzly bear out for a little walk. You can tell its a grizzly and not a brown bear (also prevalent in these parts) because of it's light face and the hump on its neck. It was just out of reach for my lens that I had at the time, so the photo is a little grainy, and really only included because there's a bear in it.
We walked through the west geyser basin at dusk. It started to become sort of a scary place as the sun began to set. There were really not many tourists out there with us at this point (and we were there in July, when there are always lots of people around) because it was getting dark and because West Geyser Basin is one of those stops some people skip to go on to Old Faithful or other more active basins. And, when the earth is shooting hot molten water and rock up into the air at any given time all around you, it gets to be a bit freakish. But, the sunset was beautiful. And, we made it out. No worries. The drive south back to where we were staying on the western road of the south half of the park was no picnic in the dark, however...windy, dark and treacherous. We took that road in the daytime from then on.
The next day, we went to Old Faithful. And, it didn't disappoint.
Now, for a couple of shots of the grandeur of the Grand Tetons. Beautiful.
This one overlooks Lake Jackson. It was funny - on the overlook where this was taken, it was one of the only places in either park where cell phones worked - I guess you were high enough up for some far away towers to catch your signal. (or for you to catch their signal - however that works) so there were lots of people standing around talking on their phones, which you saw virtually no other place in the entire park. I liked the fact that no cell phones worked anywhere else - nice break from the outside world.
To end this post, a picture of my husband at West Thumb. (All that coppery runoff in the first photo and the lake are just over that little hill, just out of site of this photo. Notice the wood walkways - you encounter these all over Yellowstone with signs that implicitly tell you to stay on the walkway or you could step on a steam vent or geyser that will blow you away or at least burn you really good. We stayed on the wooden path. Always.) I thought this was an especially appealing photo - him and the business end of an Elk. What a great sport he was.
If you haven't been to Grand Tetons or Yellowstone, you must go. Please visit the incredible example of beauty this nation has to offer at these two National Parks.