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Aug 9, 2009

Yellowstone vacation, Day 3

Our plans for Day 3 in Yellowstone included a lot of driving, with the aim to spend the night at Mammoth Hot Springs to the very north of the park. We left early, stopping quickly at the Visitor Center in Fishing Bridge and letting Daniel play in the lake for a few minutes (although he would have loved to stay there all day, I think). On the way North, we drove by a plain where over 100 bisons had gathered, including a lot of young ones. We decided to try to get closer to the herd, and we ended up hiking for 30 minutes and watching the bison activities along the way.
A herd of bisons by Yellowstone Canyon
bisons in Yellowstone
It really felt like we were in the movie "Dance with wolfes". The plain really looked like in the movie, and we were almost on our own in the wilderness (we can really close to a bison in his way to reunite with the herd).
bison in Yellowstone
As we came back to the car, it was Daniel's nap time and he fell asleep right away. We continued our way North. We first visited the North Rim of the Canyon, since we hadn't been able to do it the day before due to the weather. Parking is somewhat easy on the North Rim, and there is very little walking to do to get to the sightseeing spots. My husband and I alternated checking out the sights while the other watched Daniel nap in the car.
Yellowstone Canyon, North Rim
Yellowstone Canyon, North Rim
Yellowstone Canyon, North Rim
Yellowstone Canyon, North Rim

Later, Daniel once again woke up right on time for our next adventure. We quickly stopped at the trail head to Mount Washburn, but we didn't do much hiking. It was very windy, cold and it was already getting late given our heavy program. We visited Tower Fall quickly (although still took the time to eat ice cream), and continued our journey to find wildlife. We were hoping that the Lamar valley (to the North East) would be the place to spot all the animals we had come to see. Our next 2 stops were disappointing: we excitedly parked on the road next to about 25 other cars that had already gathered, just to find out that we had missed a grizzly and then a black bear. How sad!
The next encounter was better, though. We came really close to a herd of bisons who were crossing the street and stopping traffic. Very fun to watch all the interactions in the herd.
Bisons crossing the road
bisons in Yellowstone

Our drive in Lamar Valley didn't lead to as much wildife as we had hoped (a few deers, gazelles, and a bear family that we just saw for half a minute). But the drive itself was fantastic. Watching the river valley, surrounded by the mountains, in the evening light, was spectacular.
Views from Lamar Valley
Lamar Valley Yellowstone
Lamar Valley, Yellowstone
Lamar Valley, Yellowstone
gazelle in Lamar Valley, Yellowstone

Daniel got tired of sitting in the car for that long, but we managed to keep him entertained for a while by teaching him words and counting, and singing a lot of kids songs (the joys of parenting!). Eventually, he fell asleep quietly at sunset, and slept until we arrived at the hotel... late (just in time for us to buy a few snacks for dinner before the grocery store closed). We had a great family dinner in our room, though. Daniel was so happy to be "home" (in this case, this meant "not in a car seat and able to play with the trains we had brought along") and so relieved he didn't have to sit in a high chair for yet another long dinner. He was so much fun, and a great end of a long and eventful day.

View other parts of our trip here:
Day 1: SFO-Jackson,WY. Drive to Old Faithful via Grand Teton.
Day 2: Old Faithful-Canyon-Lake
Day 4: Mammoth Hot Springs-Norris-Old Faithful.

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