Yellowstone, A Return to the Land of Magic

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Grand Prismatic Spring in the early morning hours

The last time we were in Yellowstone was January 2018 when we spent a week visiting this incredible park .  It was our first winter visit and I was blown away by its beauty. Winter is still my favorite time, (all the tourists are gone and a great deal of animals are easier to spot).  After our visit in October, I’m going to have to say that Autumn is my 2nd favorite time to visit the park.  The peak summer crowds were gone, although campgrounds were full on a consistent basis (so glad we made reservations).  We enjoyed the park so much we ended up staying 5 days at Madison Campground and 4 additional days at Mammoth Hot Springs.  Jim spent most of the 5 days fishing the Madison River and most of the 4 days fishing the Lamar River !  Me, I spent most of my time behind the lens of my camera.

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Stormy days in Yellowstone do amazing things with the lighting

The colors were so incredible; the storm clouds with sunshine peaking through brought beautiful light shows to the landscape and many spots were open that we couldn’t get to in the Winter.

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Lamar Valley , one of our favorite spots in Yellowstone

We spent our last 4 days in Yellowstone exclusively in the Lamar Valley, watching the light roll over the hills and mountains.

These two young males were charging and chasing each other in the middle of one of those bison traffic jams !

The bison were out in force causing a few minor traffic jams, but fortunately the tourists didn’t flood this are like they did the area surrounding Madison.  I think Lamar still remains one of those ignored, undiscovered spots and that is fine with me.  I could just sit in one of the pullouts for hours watching the light change the appearance of the landscape. Or watching the edge of the forest for wolves-I did see my first Yellowstone wolf thanks to someone sharing their scope with me.  I got to see the silver wolf running back and forth along the edge of the bison pack.  I’m saving for my own scope for our next trip-if any of you have any recommendations for a good spotting scope let me know- I would love to have one that I could attach either to my iPhone or camera.

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Hiking Fairy Falls Trail to the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook

One morning we decided to get up before sunrise to hike the Fairy Falls trail to the Grand Prismatic Spring overlook(by the way we didn’t know that it was the Fairy Falls trailhead for access to the overlook-I forgot to do my research !).  But first we thought that 6:30am would be a good time to stop at the Grand Prismatic Spring-we figured it would be pretty much deserted and with morning light a good time for photo shots.

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This is all the further we could get at the Grand Prismatic Spring due to ice !

We were correct-but Mother Nature decided to throw us a curve.  The ramp up to Grand Prismatic was a sheet of ice and it was foggy so the ice wasn’t going to be melted by the morning sun.  Every time we tried to walk up the ramp we would take two steps forward and slide 6 steps backward.  I was trying to hold onto two cameras, my tripod and myself and just knew I was an accident waiting to happen.  Plus we would have been great subjects for America’s Funniest Videos.  So we gave up and headed to Fairy Falls.

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There were still quite a few trees with their brightly colored leaves still clinging to the branches in spite of the winds

Our only problem was, we had no wifi coverage and I couldn’t remember where we were supposed to access the overlook trail.  I didn’t know that we were supposed to be heading to the Fairy Falls Trailhead for access. And of course there were no signs or information telling us about this secret spot.  We cruised down the road a bit and I got 1 bar of Verizon LTE and took a chance in searching for our destination and fortunately luck was with me-access at the Fairy Falls Trailhead.

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The fog does amazing things with landscape colors

When we arrived at the trailhead everything was till enveloped in fog but we had high hopes and began the short trek to the overlook.  We arrived about 7:15am to a solid fog bank-we couldn’t see anything but a few pine trees in the distance.  It was so thick we laughed with a family who joined us and joked about where we thought Grand Prismatic Spring was located.  We stood there for about 2 1/2 hours, exchanging stories and emails with our fellow photographers and finally about 10am the skies cleared and there it was in all its beauty.

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On a return trip to the Grand Prismatic Overlook we had sunshine and blues skies !
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Incredible beauty at the start of the trailhead
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It was 6:00 am and we were driving to the Fairy Falls Trailhead when we stumbled upon the sun breaking through the fog and lighting up these trees
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We waited patiently for the forest to be light up by the sun !

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The terraces are just as beautiful as the spring !

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Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

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Someday I’ll capture the iconic shot of the rainbow rising from the falls !
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The colors throughout Yellowstone are just astounding
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Autumn along the Gibbons River

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The canyon is painted with colors that look like a box of watercolors spilled over it

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I love these magical little moments, walking by and this little geyser started spouting
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A shot I will never be able to duplicate, couldn’t believe my good fortune to catch this coyote with his meal for the day

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Yellowstone Wildlife

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The day we decided to explore outside Yellowstone we headed to the Hebgen Lake area and spotted this beautiful little guy trying his best to camouflage himself
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Such a gentleness of spirit seen in the eyes of a horse

 

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Still some leaves on the Aspens in the Hebgen Lake area

 

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More views of the Hebgen Lake area

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For my sweetie, it doesn’t get any better than fishing in the Lamar River on a gorgeous Fall day

 

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Amazing river colors

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The Revel was perfect for Yellowstone. Short enough that we didn’t hog all the pull out space; the diesel heater kept us warm and toasty when temperatures dropped at Mammoth Springs; and it was really nice to be higher up on the road when scouting for photo shoots and wildlife.  And when I was finished shooting photos it was great to return and sit inside nice and cozy with a cup of hot chocolate waiting for Jim to return from fishing.

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We were surprised with a preview of Winter during our visit to Yellowstone

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The Lamar Valley in alls it glory

 

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Geysers and rivers and waters of Yellowstone

 

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Grand Prismatic Spring

 

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We were out exploring the Firehole River Falls very early in the morning. It was so quiet and had the feeling of standing in a cathedral while listening to the falls

 

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Early morning on the Firehole River and Gibbons Falls

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Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

 

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The last of Autumn before Winter covers the Lamar Valley
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Make the trip up the Fairy Falls Trailhead to the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook, you will see the beauty and glory of the Spring-like a painting by Monet

 

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Goodbye bison
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Goodbye geysers
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Goodbye sweet Yellowstone, until we meet again  I hold you in my heart

If you haven’t been to Yellowstone what are you waiting for, life is too short to not live it to the best of your ability…Happy trails my friends and safe travels..

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

Mahatma Gandhi

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8 thoughts on “Yellowstone, A Return to the Land of Magic

  1. mkorbulic

    Lovely, Sandy. Even though I was unable to use javascript. But your post is rich with beautiful shots! I too love Yellowstone. Our best trip there was in autumn.

    Mary

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    Like

  2. Mike Hohmann

    Exceptional photos… makes me want to get back there again soon. Was planning to get out there this winter, but their season is so short and access seemed very limited. Have snowshoeing trip planned along the SHT (Superior Hiking Trail) in northern Minnesota in December. Something special about the winter, but it has it’s unique dangers as well.

    Like

    1. Your December trip sounds wonderful-I know what you mean about time and access limited in Yellowstone-but the Winter there is so incredible-we are going to try and sneak a trip in before February ! And I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. Thank you

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yvette

    You an incredible photographer. I love your composition, your capture of locations and the stories with it. It makes me want to join you for the ride. Thank you my friend for sharing such beauty.

    Like

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