Yellowstone National Park

Sylvan Lake in Yellowstone National Park

Sylvan Lake in Yellowstone National Park.

Our first day in Yellowstone National Park was cold. It was the first week of September, and the weather in Cody has been comfortable. What we didn’t realize was that once we were in the park we were going to start climbing. The East Entrance gate is at 6,951 feet above sea level. Sylvan Pass, just about seven miles from the gate, is at 8,530 feet. The temperature dropped as we climbed, and unfortunately for us, something in the Windstar needs to be fixed so the heat comes on properly. There is heat in the car, but the switch doesn’t work properly and Ben has to take a pair of pliers and fuss with some thingamajig lever to get the heat on. Needless to say, we hadn’t packed a toolbox with us, so we rode along, gawking at the scenery and huffing on our hands to keep them from freezing up.

Once over the pass we headed towards Sylvan Lake. It was still early in the morning and there wasn’t anyone else there. We stopped and got out to take some pictures and walk around a bit. The photo accompanying this post is one that I took from the side of the lake. It’s quiet there, and we were graced with a bug-free visit, too.

It’s been almost a year since we visited, and I had intended to write these blog posts long before now, so I’m starting to forget some of the details. We left Sylvan Lake and drove along until we came to Steamboat Point, which lies on Yellowstone Lake. I could see little puffs of steam emerging from behind some rocks and we pulled off the road to park in the parking area. As soon as I got out of the car I could smell the sulfur. The little fumarole was stinky!

Steamboat Point geyser

The fumarole at Steamboat Point smells strongly of sulfur.

Nevertheless, it was photogenic, so we took a few pictures of it and the lake and continued on our way. By mid-morning we reached Lake Village and stopped for lunch and souvenir hunting. The Fishing Bridge Museum and Visitor Center was almost directly across the street and just a short walk along a pathway lined with pine trees. Did I mention that I love pine trees? Anyway, we toured the center and looked at the bird exhibits. There was a ranger there to answer any questions, but I think we were just too overwhelmed to ask anything, so we just wandered around the museum.

I don’t think we did much else of note that day. We drove for awhile longer and took some more pictures along the Yellowstone River. I think we made it the Artist Point falls, were we spent the rest of the afternoon walking and doing some photography. It was getting colder, and we were getting tired, and we had a long trip back to our cabin. So we packed up our gear and drove back towards the East Entrance.

Everything I read before we went on our trip talked about how large Yellowstone National Park is. And they’re right — but it’s difficult to realize that until you’re actually there. I read the numbers, but it wasn’t until we were driving and driving that you begin to get an idea of what those numbers mean in real life. If you plan on visiting the park, expect to do a lot of driving. We stayed outside the park, so we had about 27 miles to go to reach the cabin once we’d exited the park itself. There is lodging in the park, as well as camping. Next time we go, I’m planning to lodge in the park.

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