July 2018 – This was a return trip to Yellowstone for us, so we only stayed three nights and stayed in the northern part of the park, around Mammoth Hot Springs and the Lamar Valley.
We got up early to drive 180 miles and obtain a campsite in the first-come-first-served Mammoth Campground, and by 8:30 a.m. we had our site.
Every day we were here, we drove out to the Lamar Valley, looking for bears and wolves. We only saw one black bear (no pictures) and no wolves, but we still love driving through Yellowstone.
Hanging out around the Mammoth Hot Springs visitor center and stores makes you feel like you’re in an urban area, but two things made this area worthwhile – one was the ice cream at the Terrace Grill (refreshing on these hot days) and two was the resident elk who hang out all over the lawns in Mammoth. There were lots of fawns at this time of year—too cute!
On our first morning we got up before it was light, drove through the Lamar Valley and out the Northeast Entrance, turning around and coming back to hike at Trout Lake (colorful wildflowers, frogs, geese, and gorgeous reflections of the mountains in the distance).
After multiple attempts on previous trips, we finally got to drive Blacktail Plateau Drive, which opened up the second day we were there. What a spectacular drive, but you have to drive slowly, as the road is gravelly and full of ruts and potholes. Our black bear sighting was near here (after dark), and we think it was a yearling trying to forage on its own for the first time.
We had a wonderful guided ranger hike the next morning at Mammoth Hot Springs, very informative on a gorgeous day to be out among the limestone formations.
Our final morning took us to Bunsen Peak Road, where we did a bike ride among wildflowers, jackrabbits and one coyote. A bit of a rough ride for our non-mountain bikes, but do-able for a few miles.
This trip did not include geysers or exploration of the rest of the park, but we’ve done all that on previous trips (before we had our blog), so here are a few shots from the past. We love Yellowstone and want to go back again!