We started out the day with the plan to go see Yellowstone Falls and Artist’s Point (#3). The ranger told us that there was 6ft of snow on the trail, but we figured he was just being cautious and we’d go regardless, like we had in the Tetons.
On our way to the Falls, we stopped to watch a coyote hunting in the field and got to see it successfully catch a gopher (or something similar) for breakfast. It kept hunting for a while, but we did not get to witness a second successful kill.
We got sidetracked for a while when we took a drive through Hayden Valley (between #2 and #3) and discovered the presence of a Grizzly near the road. We hung around there watching it and taking picture for what ended up being close to 3 hours. We had some interesting side conversations with a young park ranger who was already sick of the tourists (mainly because they would just stop in the middle of the road) and a photographer named Adrian who was Australian and lived in LA who had been there since 6:30AM when the bear first crossed the road. Also, he had an awesome camera and lens… got some good advice from him on lenses. While we were watching, a second Grizzly wandered across the back of the field, but never became much more than a spot on the horizon.
We took a quick drive down to Fisherman’s Bridge before heading back up to Artist’s Point, which is a lookout back toward lower Yellowstone Falls. While we were there, we noticed a group staring down at the cliffs and discovered they had spotted an osprey nest. I got some picture, but it was distant and the osprey was not completely still, so they’re only OK.
We packed up with the intention of hiking down to Ribbon Falls, and we made it a little way, but the snow was building and was not as solid as it had been in the Tetons – most steps were punching through. Maybe if we had been there first thing in the morning when it was still cold the hike might have been possible, but in the afternoon, it was not. We made a second attempt to find Uncle Tom’s trail, which is a set of stairs down to the base of the upper falls, but that met with the same fate.
We drove around to the North side of the river to the more built-up overlooks. We hiked down to the top of the falls from there. A last stop along the river at Yellowstone’s Inspiration Point and then we headed back to camp with a stop at Canyon Village for beers and some pasta. While we were eating dinner, a group of six college aged buys showed up and we noted two things – first, the park ranger had apparently come and confiscated their beer (possibly because it was left out and not in the bear box) and two they were crazy enough to jump in the river, which couldn’t have been warmer than 34 degrees.
We had a bit of time after dinner before sunset so we drove down toward Old Faithful and stopped at the Artists’ Paintpots which was a small loop, about half a mile, around a few smaller springs and paint pots.
We took a sunset drive to Hayden Valley to look for animals (with a stop for fire wood on the way), but stopped short when we decided it was going to be too dark anyway for wildlife watching and noticed the sunset behind us and pulled off to take pictures of it.
We had more wood that night, so we made a big fire and drank our “Roadblock” beers – which were some local brew.