In the true spirit of August bank holiday, the weather was terrible. Not only did it rain pretty much all day, but as we were driving into Yellowstone we were hit by a snowstorm! It's 27th August. It's supposed to be summer. After that it pretty much rained all day and night, but luckily eased off while we were at the upper geyser basin, home of the old faithful geyser. It goes off predictably every 60-80 minutes and with almost perfect timing, it did so just after we'd arrived... whilst I was in the bathroom. We had plenty of time there though, so after lunch I had a wander round the rest of the area with a girl from my group to look at the range of thermal pools, smaller geysers and pretty coloured springs. That meant that I was back with time to spare to sit and wait for it to happen again. This time I didn't miss it.
From there, we drove on to the midway geyser basin to see the grand prismatic spring. As it was so cold, it was steaming so much we couldn't see the bright blue colouring, but it was still pretty impressive.
As we headed back towards our camp for the next two nights, it started to rain and didn't stop all night. Speed-pitching tents in the rain is always fun!
Thankfully the rain had stopped by the next morning when we got up early to go to Hayden Valley for the sun rise. However, the sun only held our attention for a short time as we spotted a grizzly bear on the opposite side of the river. We watched it wandering about for a while then drove on down the road, only to get caught in a bison jam, as one ambled up the road in front of us. After that, bison sightings became so common that, as promised, we were sick of them by the end of the day.
Next stop was Artist Point for a view of Yellowstone falls and the Yellowstone Grand Canyon, made of the yellow stone that gave the park its name. Contrastingly, we then drove up into the snow covered mountains. Again, it's August!
A big highlight of the afternoon was spotting a wolf cub way up high on a hill. Apparently there were two or three but they were tricky to spot as they walked through the long grass. Fortunately, I managed to catch one with my camera. We also spotted a northern harrier in a tree at the same site.
After lunch, some of the group went swimming in hot springs while the rest of us stayed in Gardiner, just over the state border in Montana and hung out in a local saloon bar. As the weather had cleared up, it was sunny for the rest of the day, but that meant a colder night's camping. On the plus side, that meant we could build a campfire and make smores!
Bears - 1
Bison - loads
Chipmunks - 7
Elk - 12
Wolves - 1
Badger - 1
Moose - 0
Coyotes - 0
Antelope - 0