Last time we visited Yellowstone we were short on time and missed the two north districts of the park. Despite my most sincere hopes that they would clear the snow in the Beartooth Pass earlier than usual (Memorial Day), the road was closed, which rendered the original plan of entering the park through its (apparently) the most scenic (north-eastern) entrance completely unfeasible. We entered the park through its Gardiner entrance and saw wildlife immediately. There were herbivores all over the place, even in places with very significant human presence, like the Mammoth Visitor Center.
The first goal was seeing the terraces before lunch. They are some very interesting formations of layered pools displaying intense colors as the hot water trickles down. Unfortunately they become relatively plain when the pools dry out because the hot spring’s decision to flow on an alternative path. We walked the boardwalk among the Lower Terraces enjoying the beauty of the active features. On the other hand, the appearance of the terraces created by dormant springs constantly reminded us how ephemeral this beauty was. The situation of the higher terraces is worse: only Orange Spring Mound seemed to be still active.
After (a late) lunch, we hit the Beaver Ponds trail. The first part was pretty steep, but it soon became an easy walk. We kept looking for those beaver ponds, but instead we saw two black bears foraging too close to the trail. We decided that seeing the beaver ponds was not that important after all: getting back to report the bears sighting at the visitor center suddenly seemed a much better idea. Plus, there were other trails in the park, for example Trout Lake Loop (close to the north-east entrance). Another steep ascend, followed by a relatively easy walk around the thawing lake, complicated only by a few patches of snow.
We saw quite a few more animals between Mammoth and the north-east entrance, especially bison with little calves. A grizzly running very close to the road was extremely entertaining; we first saw it because a large crowd was staring at it. After it got out of our sight, we drove to the next pullout and waited for it to show up again. The trick worked only once, we lost it at the following pullout. However, the bear presence led to a huge bison migration across the road, apparently trying to take their calves to safer grounds.
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This is part of our trip to Yellowstone National Park: North Yellowstone | Geysers | Yellowstone Canyon