We are leaving the hotel at about 9:00am. Marco turns the car on – and, the tire pressure lamp is coming on. Lucky we are not in the middle of nowhere yet we just have to drive down the road to the next gas station to get the tire pressure checked. All four tires are bit low and we refill them up to the required 32 PSI. But, the light doesn’t turn off, we still leave and a few miles later see a Tire Shop, we stop there and ask the “pro” to check them with his equipment. His findings are that all four tires are ok, but the spare tire was low! Anyway, we are glad it’s nothing more serious and continue our way north towards West Yellowstone on HWY 20. It’s only about 100 miles and shouldn’t take us any longer than 2 hours.
The landscape is gorgeous, the trees are in their best fall colors and the sky is deep blue, we picked the best time to come up here.
Indeed, after not even 2 hours, we arrive at the Moose Creek Inn, a small motel where we stayed before. The lady, the owner, recognizes us and gives us the same room we had last year. As it hasn’t been cleaned yet we just take the key and move on to Yellowstone National Park!
Since we heard that there were bear and moose sightings close to Canyon Village and up north from there, we drive in that direction first. In the park there are mostly pine trees so the colors of fall are not that visible, but it is notably drier than in June (we were last here in June 2009) there is not one animal in sight, not even a bison. Our mood starts to sink a bit. Then in the north east we see warnings of “managed wildfires” (meaning that they are watching the fire but are not trying to stop it). There is thick smoke in the air and it is impossible to take any pictures.
Therefore, we arrive at Mammoth Hot Springs at around noon. This is the first time we shoulder our cameras and lenses and take a hike. We are surprised how much this place has changed, most of the lower springs have no water at all anymore and even at the upper level many of them have dried out or carry only a fraction of the water they had back in 2003 when we were here the first time. Already last year there was a lot less water, but now they have lost most of there attraction.
Mid afternoon we park our car at the Norris Basin and start another hike. The trail leads us from one geyser to the next, some of them quiet others rumbling and steaming. The last part “Porcelain Basin” is the most impressive part and we spend a lot of time there, taking pictures and smelling the sulfur. It was definitely worth the long walk.
As we are tired and it is already about 6pm we start driving the 28 miles back to West Yellowstone. Now the animals are out! First we spot a huge elk grazing along the road, then just on the other side of the street we watch a fox hunting some small prey. Later we see bisons walking on the road and in the meadows and deer, everywhere.
Eventually, starving and thirsty we arrive back in West Yellowstone where we first stop at the Wild West Pizzeria before we go back to the motel.