…but wait, even more Tetons

Right in the middle of Grand Teton National Park is a little settlement named Moose.

It contains the park headquarters, a number of dwellings for park employees, several commercial buildings for restaurants, grocery, outdoor equipment, and souvenirs. There also are some private dwellings for those who have holdings inside the park.

Blink and you’ll miss it.

Unless someone has spotted a moose….in which case, the traffic jam might prevent you from even passing through.

It’s aptly named, because moose are frequent visitors to the small area encompassed by the settlement.

As we drove through on our one-day visit, we noticed several cars poorly parked in a service drive, and people moving quickly toward a spot near some trees.

Yep.DSC_3924

Big female. Wait….and a baby!DSC_3919

Wait, wait, wait….nooooo, TWINS!

They were this season’s youngsters, and they paid attention to mom and kept close to her.DSC_3962

If only we could get all three to turn this way at the same time….DSC_3944

What a great visit we had to the Tetons! I’m thinking we’ll be back….DSC_3874

…and more Tetons

Ho ho, you didn’t think we would drive that far, find color and snow in the Tetons, and only get five photos, do you?

Ohhhhhh nooooooo.DSC_3807

It’s true that some areas were developing the color more slowly than others….but their beauty is still deep and wide.

Most areas were hit real well….DSC_3832

And the snow-caps were there…playing peek-a-boo sometimes.DSC_3998DSC_4031

Even the moon gave us a wink as we left.DSC_4074

We interrupt for a message from Teton

“Hello, this is Grand Teton National Park. We are experiencing Fall colors and weather….just in case you are interested.”DSC_3771

We heard colors and snow had come to the Tetons, so we had to run down for a look.

Whaddya think…maybe?

Ah, but those aren’t the Teton mountains…these are the Tetons:DSC_3779

The snow’s limited to the mountain tops, it’s true, and they seem to be shrouded in clouds. But that’s pretty good snow that peeks through now and again.DSC_3790

Now here’s a special present we were given…just because we made the long trek to admire the Teton beauty one more time this year: iridescent clouds!DSC_4049

Those colors in the upper left occur in very thin clouds that have very tiny water droplets. Because this iridescence usually occurs near the sun and the colors are pastel, the condition is often missed. In this instance, the colors were as vivid as you see here, the effect was remarkably widespread, and most of the rest of the scene was backlit and therefore quite dark. What a gift!

Ahhhh, but it’s not called GRAND Teton for nothing. The show wasn’t finished.DSC_4065

Bumping around Yellowstone

The Forest Service seems to take great pains to leave alone the natural flora and fauna in the park.

Animals have numerous natural enemies…other animals, and the weather…and no obvious attempt is made to keep them apart. The natural interaction can have surprising effects.

We heard that the introduction of wolves has dramatically affected the growth of small trees and shrubs in several areas. The theory is that deer had been nearly stripping bare these areas for years, but the wolves either have killed them or chased them away to other areas.

And the flora grows how it grows, and burns as lightning causes it to burn, and lies where it falls. Only the minimum is done to keep trees and vegetation out of roadways & trails.

All very natural.

So we have encounters with interesting fallen timbers like these:DSC_0905DSC_2994

And rocks…wow, this place has rocks of every sort. These pictures are just some we ran across that seemed more unusual than most.

The first is a single rock on the shore of Lake Yellowstone. It has broken into interesting fragments.

I actually shot the last one when it was so dark I could barely see those monsters right in front of me!DSC_3002DSC_0945

Rápido

As much as we talk about the fields and forests of Yellowstone, the water that flows from it and through it can be pretty amazing.

Well, both.

We showed you amazing water just yesterday…those hot springs, both tiny and huge, that create massive mounds of calcium and promote the growth of colorful algae.

Here’s just a couple examples of pretty. These are not waterfalls, they’re just rapids…and I like them better than waterfalls, because they drop, swerve, drop some more, pool, pour, spray, and drop some more!DSC_0732

DSC_1970

In this next scene, I liked the way the water poured over the edge in one spot and splashed up in the air almost as high as it had fallen!DSC_2029

Every road in the park follows a river sooner or later. On our way out every evening, there’s the Madison River to reflect the sunset, and several times we’ve had the moon rising over our shoulders.DSC_2675

Features of Yellowstone

This park is huge!

We’re parked only 14 miles from the western entrance, but the drive to the far side of the park is 55 miles and takes nearly 90 minutes…and it’s another 35 miles to the northern edge!

A day’s drive will take you through terrain that varies from the sublime to the ridiculous.

For example:DSC_0847

This massive mound of calcium (?) is the result of a tiny flow of hot water that just goes and goes and goes. The colors result from various microbes that grow in different temperatures…so as the water cools on the outflow, different color microbes begin to grow.

The park has modest hills around every corner. But sometimes what’s around the corner is more than a hill….DSC_1284

All those layers of hills and small mountains in the background are part of Yellowstone! Where the river bends to the right, and goes around a bare slope of earth on its left…if you enlarge the photo, you’ll see steam vents down near the river’s edge. The yellow earth on the slope is from liquid sulphur that has vented along with the steam. You’ll have to imagine the smell….

One of the best-known hot springs is Grand Prismatic Spring…popular because of its phenomenal coloration. Google earth actually presents a lovely view of it (just search Google maps for “grand prismatic spring” and turn on the satellite view).DSC_2533

I’m a down-to-earth kind of guy, so this view isn’t as spectacular. My friend, Colleen, just posted a lovely version she took in recent days from the air while on a tour! I may try for another version before we leave, taken from the knoll you can see in the background near the right edge.

Another spectacular change in terrain is the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, where the Yellowstone River has carved a dramatic canyon through pale rock. The river drops through two dramatic falls, and the lower one can be seen from quite a distance down the canyon…even after sunset with some help from a half-moon.DSC_2282

A little birdie told me…

Yellowstone National Park isn’t much known for its birds…mostly, I suppose, because of the many other unique or unusual animals and geological features found here.

Still, we have quickly found some sweet and remarkable scenes involving birds in our first few days here.

This mother duck and her family of teenagers found rest from a swift Madison River current…and safety from the swarms of drivers who stop in the road when the fowl are found on the riverbank beside the road!DSC_0541

This nest was immediately beside a raised walkway around a large, very hot water spring…and its steam would occasionally billow past. The babies were focused on mother’s comings and goings!DSC_1166

These ducks were unfamiliar to me, but I was most taken by their standing/seating arrangements!DSC_3179