Yellowstone has to be one of the best places we’ve been on our travels so far! Rewind a couple of days and to get up to speed with what we have done – we have visited Tatanka (the bronze bison sculptures), stayed overnight at Deadwood, drove up and over Bighorn Mountain and spent one night in Cody – all in subzero temperatures.
We have been advised that this amount of snow and the cold snap at this time of year is highly unusual. There are no complaints coming from us though because it has NOT dampened our mood whatsoever. This weather is actually adding to the experience. In fact, counting our layers of clothing, we have reached 6 layers to be precise. And whilst in Deadwood, we paid a visit to the local supermarket to pick up thermals. And fortunately too, as by the time we hit Cody, we had minus 14°C. We have never felt such cold before to the point where we were walking to dinner one night literally wrapped up like mummies with only our eyes showing. Now that night was bitterly cold!
Because of the snow, the roads were slippery and there were cars venturing up and down the mountains without chains on their tyres. Our driver, Chuck was simply brilliant manoveuring us safely around on the snowy roads, up and over Bighorn, bypassing many road-side accidents where cars had slid of the road.
All this build up was for what we were to encounter at Yellowstone. Gorgeous blue skies and herds of bisons crossing the road. Driving into Yellowstone, we came to a sudden halt only to witness a herd of bisons on the road. We sprang off the bus to watch these huge animals trudging along and amongst them, a baby bison which apparently is rare to see at this time of year.
It was onwards to Artist Point, the “Grand Canyon” of Yellowstone and the Lower Falls. We also saw the huge Yellowstone Lake. The landscape here is forever changing and is so spectacular at this time of year. There is no way we would want to miss it in summer so we are definitely coming back here one day. There was a point where we were heading to our hotel when the bus pulled over to the side of the road. There was a herd of elks in the tall grass and it was truly a moment to soak up and try and capture with a camera – the image of these elks littered across the plains and in knee deep water. And only moments earlier, we saw two bisons fighting. It was like we stepped into a wildlife documentary. The feeling was surreal.
And of course, a huge reason to come to Yellowstone is to visit Old Faithful – the geyser that is so reliable! And right on cue, he spat at 11.05 just like the clock said inside the information centre. We’re still not entirely sure if it was worth it – standing in the freezing cold for 10 minutes to view a spray of white water with a backdrop of white snow. Again – we’re sure we will be back in summer next time, so we can reassess our first impressions then.
Moving on from Yellowstone, we stopped at the Grand Tetons which are massive but due to the low cloud cover, a lot of it was covered so we really couldn’t see much of it! We were just pleased that the weather was warming up by then!
So overall, Yellowstone did NOT disappoint. The only let down was that we didn’t get to see all the wildlife we had hoped for. We were in Yellowstone so on our to-see list was bears and mooses. And sadly, one was not able to be ticked off our list. We even managed to see the elusive coyote but not a single bear in sight. Clearly it was due to the much colder weather! That’s fine with us though as that only means another trip back to this area. This time in warmer weather – that is the plan! But maybe we need to visit Jellystone Park if its bears we want to see.