The itinerary for our second day at West Yellowstone consisted of venturing into Yellowstone National Park. We entered via the west entrance and drove all the way north to the Lamar Valley past the Tower-Roosevelt junction. The northern part of the park is considered bear and wolf country, especially the Lamar Valley where there are plenty of wolf sightings.
On the journey up to the Lamar Valley, just after the Tower-Roosevelt junction we noticed that there were a lot of cars pulled up at the side of the road and lots of people with their cameras out. So, we decided to join the party and see what was going on. When we wandered over to see what everyone was looking at, to our surprise, we suddenly realised there was a REAL wild bear! It turned out to be a cinnamon coloured black bear, yes I know what you’re thinking, why is it not coloured black if it’s called a black bear… well I don’t actually know, because there are also brown bears and grizzly bears present in Yellowstone. But that’s not the point, we saw a REAL bear in the wild! I didn’t think we would have been able to see the captured ones in the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Centre, let alone in the wild. It was amazing!
After getting over the initial shock of seeing a bear, we got back in the car and carried on towards the Lamar Valley. Now all we needed to see was a wolf in the wild and that would pretty much be my life complete! But, sadly that was not the case. The Lamar Valley is such a vast and open space that it would have been difficult to spot a wolf even with binoculars. Still, I suppose I am content with seeing the captured ones the previous day at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Centre.
We decided to turn the car around to go back to Mammoth junction, which we had passed in our way to Tower-Roosevelt. At Mammoth junction you will find the Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces, which are a series of hot springs which dissolve calcium carbonate as the hot water rises to the surface. Above the surface, the hot spring water deposits the calcium carbonate which is what builds the travertine terraces that you see today. Because this area is so active, it means it is a rapidly changing landscape, and will likely look different everytime you visit.
After exploring the upper middle and lower hot spring terraces, we drove all the way up to the northern entrance of the park to see the famous Roosevelt Arch, which was built in 1872 by an act of congress.
All in all, it was a very busy day.