Grand Teton and Yellowstone – 2003

Here is another blast from the past. Since I found my photos from the Grand Circle, I remembered that an earlier drive to other national parks and started digging through my negatives. So, sorry for the crummy picture quality, but this one predates my digital cameras and my scanner is OK, but not exactly pro-quality.

The tour was not really a vacation. Back in the days I was working on a DARPA project and had to hand-carry a piece of equipment I had build to a week-long program review meeting that was held at the Grand Teton Lodge. It is a long drive from Southern California and so I set out with a rental car and a trunk full of gizmos. I stopped for the first night in Las Vegas and then in Salt Lake City for the second night. No photos of those places, but I did get to hear a concert with the Tabernacle Choir SLC. It is a phenomenal choir.

Grand Teton National Park

The upside of being at the Grand Teton lodge on a government  program is that the evenings are free to explore. It was early May and the snow had just molten away. Lots of moose with young calves and a very curious marmot. Good thing he didn’t figure out how to open the car door. I didn’t have time to go to the mountains, but even so the Grand Teton National Park is a great entry point to Yellowstone.

Yellowstone National Park

After the meeting I then took a couple days off to drive through Yellowstone National Park and get a first impression of what that park has to offer. I only had 3 nights there, of which I spend two at the Yellowstone Old Faithful Inn. Given that I was a poor student back then, I stayed in one of the original rooms without a bathroom. It was an adventure, but I guess today I would spring for a real room. The whole communal shower things is not for me anymore.

The park is awe-inspiring. There are all the easy to access pools, geysers and lakes which are incredible. But then I also took a short half-day hike to see some of the more remote areas. It was beautiful, but you really have to watch where you walk. There are hot pools and mud-pools all over the place and many are not obvious until you realize that you are standing on a very thin crust. There are many areas that look like an industrial accident site. The Mud Volcano Area being of them.

And then there are all the animals. I got lots of bison with calves, more moose and two mother bears with cups. One of them must have been just recently born as it was tiny. The funniest part was that the little guy was just going all over the place, up and down trees, in an out of the lake and mom was just looking with this get-done-and-move-on look. The best place to see the bears is in the north-east corner in an area called Tower Junction. At the very end and on my way back to Salt Lake City, I got to see a Grizzly bear. While the black bears look rather cute and cuddly, there is nothing cute about grizzlies. They look mean. Good thing that it was a good distance away.

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