What else could explain noxious sulfur fumes escaping from the ground, boiling water above and below the surface you’re walking on, boiling water shooting into the air and boiling mud? Yes…Boiling Mud! Not bubbling, boiling. I kept telling Pamala “there’s something wrong with that”. I can still smell the sulfur just thinking about it.
Yellowstone National Park has some of the most spectacular scenery you will ever find. Rugged mountains, fast and slow moving rivers, open plains, abundant wildlife, famous and not so famous geysers, majestic waterfalls, and areas of toxic wasteland. And don’t forget “The Mud Volcano”. The entire park is sitting on top of a super-volcano, which in conjunction with long departed glaciers, sculpted it’s landscape. Exploring Yellowstone was mostly a calming, awe-inspiring experience, but being in the Â vicinity of the “thermal features” was a little unsettling. Pamala said “the Devil left his mark”.
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All in all, we spent an enjoyable four days there with sunny skies and 70+degree temperatures for three of those days and low 30’s and snow on the last day. It was equally beautiful either way and well worth the visit.
When we crossed the border into Wyoming, I felt as if we had at last come to the closest I would get to the Wild West. The vast landscape was that of the southwestern corner of South Dakota but with a shot or two of very potent testosterone! (Jim says this analogy is very corny but who cares what he thinks…) The rolling hills of South Dakota evolved into verdant green mountains with box canyons scattered here and there. Large ponderosa pines and aspen trees peppered and oftentimes formed a blanket over the landscape.
At times, it seemed we were the only two people inhabiting the region. We saw only fifteen vehicles as we drove 125 miles. Traffic was sparse on the interstate but when we weaved our way through the Black Hills National Forest on gravel roads, we were the lone rangerÂ. Overall, while in Wyoming, we saw more horses, deer, sheep and free-roaming cows than we did people. To say that Wyoming is not a densely populated state is an understatement, but the paucity of people enhanced the ambiance of being in the open West. Before visiting Wyoming, the only references I had regarding it were the cinematic scenes in movies such as Flicka and Close Encounters of a Third Kind. The actual reality did not disappoint.
To leave you with the impression that all of Wyoming is spectacular would not only be misleading, it would be just simply wrong. The region between the Black Hills National Forest and the Bighorn Mountains is similar to Nebraska. In fact, an area near Gilette was just plain ugly due to the pit mines that are clearly visible from the road. There are coal, uranium, trona and bentonite mines in Wyoming…who knew?
However, let me conclude by saying, between Yellowstone National Park (which we won’t visit until the fall), the Black Hills area and the Bighorn Mountains, there is so much natural beauty in this state that to complain about a relatively small area of unseemliness would be unfair. Overall, it is a nature lover’s haven. I was in seventh heaven!