After a restful night in our cozy cabin, with cracking wood floors and a tiny shower cabin, we get up at 7:00am, just about right to get a coffee before we leave.
Today we indeed head straight to Hayden Valley, but don’t see any bears there today either. There are some people who claim to have seen wolfs, but very far away. They even offer me a glimps through their binocular and indeed I can see a dark animal roaming around, but cannot identify it as a wolf.
We stop a few more times before we arrive a the lake again. There we stop for longer and walk down a short slope and explore the area a bit closer. There are some tracks in the soft ground, could they be from a bear? We don’t know, but are vigilant and keep our eyes open.
A few miles further down we stop again to take a closer look at some steaming fumaroles along the lake, then we drive up the hill to a view point from which we can see over the whole lake, it is gorgeous!
Along the road that leads us to the east entrance/exit we drive past some magnificent small lakes and ponds and then up the mountains over the Sylvan Pass with an elevation of 8,541 feet (2,600 meter). On the way down from the pass to the exit of the park we finally see a bear! It’s a black bear who walks around on the steep slope of the mountain, we don’t see him for long, but long enough to take picture of him and he is close enough to be recognized.
We drive on HWY 14, along the Shoshone River and passing Buffalo Bill Reservoir, on which we see some white pelicans, arrive in Cody early afternoon. Coming down from over 8,000 feet of elevation to about 5,500 the landscape is becoming drier and drier, eventually it doesn’t look much different than in the desert, a few small bushes here in there but not much green and no more trees. They must have very little rain here during summer.
It’s too early to stay and it would be a pity to not take advantage of the nice weather (it’s 87 Fahrenheit – almost 30 Celsius), therefore we decide to take HWY 120 west and then the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, towards the north east entrance of the park. As soon as the elevation picks up the bushes are getting bigger and greener and we start seeing trees again. We stop a few times on our way up and enjoy the breathtaking views, then the road leads down into a valley in hairpin curves. Soon after we enter Yellowstone again.
The scenery and the colors are amazing, this is such a nice part of the park, there are no hot springs or any other geothermic “attractions” but nature pure: vast meadows, golden hills, rivers and grassland. While driving on the sun passes behind a thick smoke cloud (from the ongoing fire, which I mentioned in the blog entry from day one) rising from behind one of the mountains which changes the light and induces an almost mystic atmosphere.
Bisons are everywhere here as well. At one point we see a lot of people standing, watching and waiting: there is a carcass of an elk in the river and about a dozen craws and half a dozen magpies (Elstern) picking on what is left of it. Soon a coyote approaches and we watch him shy away the birds and help himself to a meal. We (as well as everybody else who is waiting there) hope for a bear to show up and get his share, but we soon have to move on as time is flying and we have another 80 miles or so to drive.
We are driving into the sunset and eventually arrive back at the Moose Creek Inn in West Yellowstone a few minutes before 8:00 pm.
We did a lot of driving today but we passed some of the most beautiful areas of the park (as well as outside the park).
Since a lot of the restaurants in town have already closed their doors for the season we end up at the Wild West Pizzeria again. We are not really hungry anymore but need something warm before hitting the pillow.