Tuesday, July 9, 2013

YNP Day Four - Tutunka

This is where the buffalo roam
We wake up to drizzle and temperatures in the 50s, actually a nice break from the sun. We continue northward. It one point Ruth asks “who tooted?” That’s code in our family for “who farted?” Turns out it was the sulfur from the Mud Volcano and Dragon’s Breath hot springs just around the bend. These would be the first of our many geothermal feature sightings. How bizarre to see the ground literally boiling, a column of steam rising into the sky, and a lone bison grazing calmly a few yards away.

Further on we take a detour through the Lamar Valley, renowned for its spectacular scenery and wildlife. The huge expanses are mind boggling, you can see for dozens of miles in every direction. There is no sign of humans, just lush valleys, snow capped mountains, lodgepole pine forests, miles of wildflowers sprinkled with herds of bison, pronghorns, and elk, and a distant storm dropping rain in the distance. As we continue, we stumble into a bison herd that decides to cross the road in front of and behind us. All of a sudden we find ourselves driving (slowly) in the midst of a moving bison herd. We are surrounded in all sides by the herd which is moving up the valley at something between a trot and a gallop. We are so close we can hear them snorting and chortling. We are literally INSIDE a buffalo stampede!

Our "Mammoth" Bungalow
A few miles later we run into a Yellowstone traffic jam – cars and RVs pulled over on both sides of the road, people with cameras, binoculars, and spotting scopes lining the side of the road, all pointed in the same direction. Turns out it was a bear cub rooting around on a hillside about 300 yards away. No sign of mom, and too far to tell if it was grizzly or black. But pretty cool.

Around mid-afternoon we arrive at the old Army outpost of Mammoth, and we settle into our cozy little bungalow.



  1. We used to go to the park store after dinner and buy ice cream, then head out to Lamar Valley with binoculars and just sit and watch the animals appear before dusk. Kids loved it, and so did we. Special place indeed.

  2. No kidding. I'm so glad we took that detour, it was one of the (many) highlights for us.