Sunday, January 15, 2012

Yellowstone Part 1, January 2012

With a "free entry day" and unusual 30-40 degree temps in January, we couldn't resist making the short drive to Yellowstone. The only entrances open to autos are Gardiner (north entrance) and Cooke City (northeast entrance). This closure takes effect each year between mid November through late April because of heavy snowfall and low out-of-season tourism. All park roads south of Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower-Roosevelt areas are closed as well. The park does however, remain open to snowmobile, ski, and foot traffic throughout the year.

The drive from Livingston to Gardiner follows the Yellowstone River through the Paradise Valley. The valley is flanked by the Absaroka Range on the East and Gallatin Range on the West. Both ranges provide an incredible backdrop in color, ruggedness, and wildlife as you work your way south to the park. The elk pictured above are grazing the foothills of the Absaroka Range. The Yellowstone River serves as a beautiful companion as it wanders throughout the valley providing fishing and habitat. Below is Emigrant Peak (10915 feet) as viewed from The Yellowstone River north of Chico Hot Springs.

Once through the small town of Gardiner, the North Entrance awaits. "For The Benefit And Enjoyment Of The People, Created By Act Of Congress March 1, 1872".

Our destination...backcountry hiking the Lamar Valley.