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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 10:55:51 09/03/17

In Reply to: Aussies on A Road Trip posted by Aussie Ken


Not knowing how many days you are willing to dedicate to Yellowstone, I will give you a quick overview timed to the likelihood you will be in the park sometime between October 5 and 12. Given the time of year and your logistics, I won't bother with canoeing, fishing, or wildflowers, for example.

There are what I would refer to as two "keystone" attractions in Yellowstone. These are truly "don't miss" that can't be replicated elsewhere. One is the thermal features, with Old Faithful Geyser as their leading symbol. The Old Faithful area, with its abundance of geysers, along with colorful hot springs, is the signature thermal area, but there are many more spread out along the Grand Loop road system, which is similar to a Figure 8. If one or more of your group takes a shine to thermal features, you have plenty of thermal areas to explore. You could expend several days simply engaged in that one activity. What I recommend for those with limited time is to weave in visits to other thermal areas with your driving to other attractions. That will maximize the use of your time.

The other keystone attraction is the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone. My recommendation, given the various closures in that area for reconstruction and renovation, is to visit Artist Point on the South Rim, Brink of the Upper Falls overlook (because it is the only place you can see the Upper Falls at present, and it is a short walk, which conserves time), and Lookout Point on the North Rim. The walk down to the Brink of the Lower Falls overlook is lengthy and time-consuming by virtue of the uphill return at an elevation approaching 8,000 feet above sea level. If you have a severe adrenaline junkie in the group, then maybe you should consider it for the rush it might give them as they stand in close proximity to the lip of the falls, watching the 308 foot thundering plunge of water commence. For dramatic photos, Artist Point and Lookout Point will get the job done on the Lower Falls. Know that there are numerous other waterfalls scattered across Yellowstone, close to the road, and you can pick and choose which ones to investigate as you drive the Grand Loop Road. In October, the water flow will be significantly lower than early/mid-summer, so a few will be less dramatic. Other falls that I would recommend would be Calypso Cascades, Gibbon Falls, and Tower Fall.

Wildlife viewing is a generalized attraction in Yellowstone. There are numerous species, and they are scattered all over the park, with certain geographic areas noteworthy for (1) a localized abundance of a particular species and (2) viewability. The broad meadowy expanse of places like Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley make them fan favorites for watching bears, coyotes, wolves, and the grazing animals, like bison and elk that they prey on. Having said that, I must mention that one of the phenomena that make Yellowstone so special is the possibility of encountering wildlife around any corner as you drive. One aspect of note for early/mid-October is the elk rut. It will be winding down, but there will still likely be a lot of highly visible elk activity in the Mammoth area in the north end of the park. You will have the opportunity to hear the bulls bugling and watch rivals try to unseat a harem masters privileged position as the temporary leader of a herd of cows, calves, and yearlings.

Questions for you revolve around hiking and any special interests. For day hikes, what are the preferences, in terms of type of terrain and attractions. In Yellowstone, there is everything from flat to steep terrain. There are hikes along streams, to lakes, to mountaintops, to thermal features, and to waterfalls, in addition to simple pleasant strolls through forests and meadows. Do any members of the group have a pronounced interest in topics like geology or history?


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