American Northwest Trip, 2017: Yellowstone’s Mud Volcano Area

The Mud Volcano Area of Yellowstone National Park is filled with hot springs and boiling pools of acid and mud, as well as the unmistakable rotten-egg odor of sulfur that bombards you as soon as you exit the car. The sulfur smell is abundant throughout the geyser basins and hot spring/caldron areas of the park. Nearly all of the pools of liquid in these photos would dissolve you instantly were you unfortunate enough to stumble into them.

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American Southwest Trip, 2018: National Park Wildlife

After so many consecutive Northwest trip posts, I’ve decided to start mixing in entries from my other recent trips to add some variety to my blog feed. This is the first batch of photos from my trip to the American Southwest this past summer, featuring shots of animals from Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, and the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon.

I shot a little bit of everything on this trip: mammals, birds, and reptiles. Many of the animals showed no fear of humans—one of the elk practically let me walk right up to her. I also saw bison on my way into the North Rim of the Grand Canyon but chose not to stop for photos since I already had so many bison photos from my Yellowstone trip. I believe that I heard rattlesnakes during one of my photo stops on Route 66 in the Mojave Desert, but I did not see them, and was not about to go looking.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Lamar Valley, Yellowstone

On my first day in Yellowstone National Park I detoured to Lamar Valley to take these photos before checking in to my hotel. Lamar Valley is supposed to be another prime wildlife viewing area, but in my case it proved to be less fruitful than Hayden Valley. Nevertheless, I did see a couple of bison herds here. On my way back out of the valley I stopped for a few shots of the Yellowstone River.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Yellowstone Lake

These photos are from different areas of Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park. The West Thumb photos were taken near where I stayed in Grant Village and the Lake Butte Overlook photos were taken on my way out of the park on the day I drove across Wyoming into South Dakota.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Hayden Valley, Yellowstone

These photos are from my visits to where the buffalo roam: Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park. There were herds of bison everywhere I looked—it’s easy to see why Hayden Valley is sometimes referred to as the American Serengeti. On a good day you can also see many other animals passing through the valley, but I wasn’t lucky enough to spot a wolf or bear. When shooting bison (or any wildlife) it’s helpful to have a good zoom lens because you definitely don’t want to get too close to them. They look mild-mannered enough but will charge you if they feel threatened. I saw some people with smartphones getting way too close for comfort.

I went a little nuts with the photos (what can I say, I love animals)—I took so many that it was quite a task to cull them down to the smaller batch I’m sharing here. I forgot to switch over to shutter priority for the action shots, so they’re not nearly as crisp as I would have liked, but I still managed to get some decent ones. In addition to the bison photos I captured some avian wildlife (including a great blue heron) and snapped a few landscapes along the Yellowstone River.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Mammoth, Yellowstone

These photos are from the town of Mammoth in Northern Yellowstone, where I stopped for dinner shortly after entering the park. The main attraction here is the hot springs. I didn’t have time to visit the springs but I took a few photos of them from a distance.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Midway Geyser Basin in Yellowstone

The Midway Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park features several geysers and springs. The crown jewel of this basin is the Grand Prismatic Spring, notable for its massive size and spectacular colors. I first saw the spring up close and then I hiked up a hill to an overlook to get a bird’s eye view, which is the best way to appreciate its beauty—truly one of the most memorable sights in the entire park. All of the mist you see in these photos is actually steam rising from boiling water in the geysers and springs.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Seems appropriate, as I count down to my upcoming trip to the actual Grand Canyon, to share some photos of a different “grand canyon” in Yellowstone National Park. My day at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone included a couple of hikes along the spectacular gorge with nice views of the lower falls, a short hike to the brink of the upper falls, and a stroll to a secluded area of the Yellowstone River just ahead of the falls. Of the many fascinating areas in Yellowstone, this among its most beautiful.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Wyoming Scenic Drive

These photos are from my long drive across the entire state of Wyoming from Yellowstone to Deadwood, South Dakota, a roughly ten-hour drive counting stops and other delays. The road trip began with a scenic drive out of Yellowstone via the East Entrance (first photo), followed by a gorgeous drive through Shoshone National Forest (middle nine photos).

After a stop in Cody for dinner and a visit to an Old West town, I got back on the road and spent hours as frequently the only car on a flat, single-lane highway—the kind of seemingly deserted road you see in the movies. I passed by myriad ranches and their large, wooden entry gates, as well as numerous oil derricks. For a moment I was concerned that I might have to drive through major cities during rush hour, but then I remembered I was in Wyoming, where there’s no such thing as a major city.

I was beginning to think that the rest of the drive through Wyoming would be mostly flat and uninteresting—until I hit Bighorn National Forest (the last four photos). What a stunning drive that was, up and down a mountain range through spectacular scenery. It’s a shame I only had time to stop for a few photos (ones that don’t do it justice) because I literally could have stopped every hundred feet. It’s an area that demands a return visit some day just to spend more time basking in its breathtaking scenery.

If you ever find yourself driving through Wyoming, I highly recommend leaving the freeway and taking a drive along Highway 14 through these amazing national forests.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Wildlife Loop, Custer State Park

On the way to Mount Rushmore I detoured for several scenic drives, including Custer State Park’s Wildlife Loop, which takes you through rolling green hills reminiscent of the English countryside. For most of the drive I did not encounter much wildlife except for a lone antelope and a distant herd of bison, but toward the end I came upon a vast field of prairie dogs, antelope, and other animals. It’s a nice, pleasant drive, worth the diversion if you have the time.

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Mud Volcano Area, Yellowstone National Park - August, 2017 Sour Lake, one of the few fairly calm (as in gently simmering rather than overtly boiling) bodies of water in the Mud Volcano region of Yellowstone. #sourlake #landscapes #mudvolcano #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming #YellowstoneNationalPark
Mud Volcano Area, Yellowstone National Park - August, 2017 There is still some beauty to be found amid the unforgiving landscape of the Mud Volcano region of Yellowstone. Featured here is a butterfly (lower right) and a bee (upper left). . #mudvolcano #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming #YellowstoneNationalPark #insects #butterfly #bee #flowers
Mud Volcano Area, Yellowstone National Park - August, 2017 A hot spring in the Mud Volcano Area of Yellowstone featuring some fiercely boiling water. Definitely not a pool you'd want to take a swim in. #hotsprings #mudvolcano #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming #YellowstoneNationalPark
Grand Canyon: South Rim, Arizona - August, 2018 A squirrel I encountered during my hike of the Bright Angel Trail at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. He seemed annoyed that I interrupted his afternoon meal--you can see pieces of food hanging on his body. #americansouthwest #animals #arizona #grandcanyon #nationalparks #roadtrips #squirrels #Travel #wildlife
Grand Canyon: South Rim, Arizona - August, 2018 A bird winding its way through the Grand Canyon. #americansouthwest #animals #arizona #birds #grandcanyon #nationalparks #roadtrips #Travel #wildlife
Grand Canyon: South Rim, Arizona - August, 2018 A bird soaring through the Grand Canyon. #americansouthwest #animals #arizona #birds #grandcanyon #nationalparks #roadtrips #Travel #wildlife
Grand Canyon: South Rim, Arizona - August, 2018 I encountered this bird during my hike of the Bright Angel Trail at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. #americansouthwest #animals #arizona #birds #grandcanyon #nationalparks #roadtrips #Travel #wildlife
Grand Canyon: North Rim, Arizona - August, 2018 An elk I encountered along the Bridle Path on my way back to the lodge from hiking the Transept Trail. She had no fear of humans, probably would have let me walk right up to her, but I kept a respectful distance. Her children hung back across the street and rejoined her after I moved on. #americansouthwest #animals #arizona #elk #grandcanyon #nationalparks #roadtrips #Travel #wildlife
Zion National Park, Utah - August, 2018 A philosopher pondering the larger questions in life. Shot on the Riverside Walk trail. #americansouthwest #animals #nationalparks #roadtrips #squirrels #Travel #utah #wildlife #zion
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah - August, 2018 A chipmunk on the floor of Bryce Canyon: "Are you talkin' to me?" (shot along the Navajo/Queen's Garden loop trail) #americansouthwest #animals #brycecanyon #chipmunks #nationalparks #roadtrips #Travel #utah #wildlife
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah - August, 2018 A chipmunk on the floor of Bryce Canyon. Shot along the Navajo/Queen's Garden loop trail. #americansouthwest #animals #brycecanyon #chipmunks #nationalparks #roadtrips #Travel #utah #wildlife
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah - August, 2018 A chipmunk in his three-point stance and ready for some football, on the floor of Bryce Canyon. Shot along the Navajo/Queen's Garden loop trail. #americansouthwest #animals #brycecanyon #chipmunks #nationalparks #roadtrips #Travel #utah #wildlife
Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park - August, 2017 Lone bison walking in Lamar Valley. #animals #bison #buffalo #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates #wildlife #Wyoming #YellowstoneNationalPark
Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park - August, 2017 On my first day in Yellowstone National Park I detoured to Lamar Valley before checking in to my hotel. Lamar Valley is supposed to be another prime wildlife viewing area, but in my case it proved to be less fruitful than Hayden Valley. Nevertheless, I did see a couple of bison herds here, including this one in a clearing beneath a large hill. #animals #bison #buffalo #landscapes #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates #wildlife #Wyoming #YellowstoneNationalPark
Yellowstone National Park - August, 2017 Yellowstone Lake: West Thumb #lakes #landscapes #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming #yellowstonelake #YellowstoneNationalPark
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