Page 13 | Western Road Trip 2017

A few rivers in Yellowstone.

Except for one or two of the photos below, these are not exactly “river” images.  Mostly they are landscapes which I think composed nicely with a bit of river in the foreground or background. Nevertheless I thought I’d make a collection of them by posting them together here.

The Firehole

The Gibbon River

The Gibbon River

The Gallatin

Bison on the Lamar River

The Madison

The Madison


Page 12 | Western Road Trip 2017

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake in North America above 7,000 feet elevation.  It is 24 miles long and 10 miles wide. At it’s greatest depth it is 390 feet.  I’ve read that average water temperature is 41 degrees, but I don’t know what this means for summer water temperatures. The fact that swimming is not recommended suggests that it remains very cold!

Yellowstone Lake is at an elevation of 7,700.  The snow capped mountain in the distance is Mount Sheridan at 10,300 feet.


Page 11 | Western Road Trip 2017

Bison at Yellowstone

The National Park Service (NPS) estimates that there are over 5,500 bison in Yellowstone.  There are two sub-populations.  About 2/3 of the animals live in the northern area where these photos were taken, and 1/3 in the central area.

Yellowstone is the only area in the lower 48 states where there has been a constant population since prehistoric times.  Nevertheless, we almost lost them.  It is well-known that the bison almost went extinct.  Even in the park, due to poaching, there were only two dozen bison remaining in 1902.
The NPS recommends that you stay 25 yards away from a bison (100 yards for a bear).   They can be aggressive, though they appear docile, and can run up to 30 miles per hour. The male can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and the female up to 1,000 pounds. You don't want to annoy one of these guys. There are many incidents of visitors being injured, and just last year a visitor was fatally gored.

Up Close and Personal

Calving was in May

Traffic Jam

Yellowstone is the only spot in the lower 48 states where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times. Unfortunately their numbers reached a low of just a couple of dozen in 1902, before the army was able to stop the poaching. Now there are more than 5,000. 

Below: We watched this herd of bison congregate in the open area and eventually down by the river. What a morning we had. I actually brewed a pot of coffee in the RV as we watched the bison come from several directions to assemble here. We were the first vehicle on the scene but soon both sides of the road were lined with parked vehicles. By the way, Yellowstone is the only spot in the lower 48 states where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times. Unfortunately their numbers reached a low of just a couple of dozen in 1900, before the army was able to stop the poaching. Now there are a few over 5,000. 


Page 10 | Western Road Trip 2017

Two of many waterfalls at Yellowstone

Yellowstone is full of waterfalls. Two of the most popular and accessible are the Upper and Lower Falls on the Yellowstone River.  The Yellowstone River flows over Upper Falls and then Lower Falls before channeling through the Grand Canyon of  the Yellowstone. Lower Falls is the tallest waterfall in the park, at over 300 feet.  That’s twice as tall as Niagara Falls.   It is quite a site and can be seen from both the north and south rims.

Upper Falls with a long lens from the parking lot:

Lower Falls.  Three images from three different angles.  
All views are easily accessible:

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone:


Page 9 | Western Road Trip 2017

Yellowstone Forest Fires

Evidence of forest fires was nearly everywhere as we traveled throughout the park.

I am not sure how many of the images below show the result of the historic Yellowstone fires of 1988.  I think a few of the landscapes must be of more recent fires, as only grass has grown back.

The fires of 1988 started as many small fires whose flames spread out of control due to unusually hot and dry weather.  Eventually the fires merged into one massive fire which burned for many months.

A total of 36% of the park was effected by the fires (over 790,000 acres).  At the peak of the firefighting effort over 9,000 firefighters were working in the park and they were supported by over 4,000 military personnel.


Page 8 | Western Road Trip 2017


Geothermal Features

Half of the world's geothermal features are in Yellowstone. Yellowstone is actually the caldera of  the largest supervolcano on the continent.  Though it has only erupted a few times in the last couple of million years, it is nevertheless considered an active volcano.

We visited Old Faithful on one of the two (?) rainy days of our three week vacation


Page 7 | Western Road Trip 2017

Grand Teton National Park

Staying at Colter Bay RV Campground

This picture was taken from the rocky beach near the campground and the Colter Bay area.  Laurie and I had dinner in the RV and walked down to the shore with our bucket chairs for a nice evening watching the sun go down.  These images were taken from the shore looking across Jackson Lake to Mount Moran. It was the only time during the trip that I used a tripod, and the reason for that was that I was playing around with a 6-stop neutral density filter.

8:30 p.m.
Olympus 12-100 @ 25mm (50mm equivalent)
1 second with 6-stop ND filter
 F8. and ISO200

9:00 p.m
Olympus 12-100mm zoom at 25mm (50mm equivalent)
3.2 sec. with 6 stop ND filter.
F8 and ISO 200


Page 6 | Western Road Trip 2017

Moulton Barns on Mormon Row

Ten years ago when we first visited the Tetons we stayed in a cabin at Moulton Ranch, just a short walk to perhaps the most photographed barn in the world, that built by homesteader T.A. Moulton.   In fact, not too long ago I posted the photo I took at that time. My wife and I remember that morning ten years ago when we walked down to the barn at sunrise to get a couple of photos.  When we looked back to the cabin from where we'd walked we were shocked to see that our route was now blocked by a herd of bison.  Eventually they did move along and we were able to return to our cabin without incident.

I have read that there were 27 homesteads in this area, established by mormons arriving from Idaho in the late 1800s to establish a new community which they called Mormon Row. These barns were built between 1912 and 1945.

Ranching and farming were difficult.  I was told by one park ranger that the shortest recorded growing season here was 17 days.  That means only 17 days between the last frost and the first frost. Ranchers needed hay for their horses and cattle during the winter. This was hard to acquire.  One could at most get two cuts in, while not too far away, at lower elevation, three cuts were possible.

The images below were taken about 8am after an overnight rainstorm cleared off, creating some dramatic clouds and allowing for a few moments of light to shine through on the barns.

Barn #1.  This is the iconic T.A. Moulton Barn.

Barn #2.  This one was owned by John Moulton.

Barn #3.  I don't know the details of this barn.