We left Bear Creek Lake Park and the Denver area May 16, traveling into Wyoming and stopped at a little campground in Lingle, WY. for a couple of nights. We needed to travel to South Dakota to renew our driver's licenses, and needed a place to park the house where Toby could wait for our return. SD requires an overnight stay receipt, so we booked a room in Custer and visited the MVD on Wednesday. With new licenses in hand, we return to our lonely cat before heading out to Thermopolis, WY.
David had found The Fountain of Youth RV Park online and we were rewarded with wonderful hot spring pools. Although Thermopolis is home to native hot springs, this water was accidentally found when drilling for oil. Two large pools greeted us with comforting hot water; reminding us of how much we miss our hot tub! We will return to this quaint campground in the future.
We are working in West Yellowstone, MT this summer at Lionshead Mountain RV Resort. Our job this summer has us doing many tasks from reservations and front desk duties, housekeeping of the 9 cabins on site, store remodeling, propane pumping, lawn mowing, and any other duties suitable for minimum wage grunts.
Using the book A Ranger's Guide to Yellowstone Day Hikes, we have been enjoying Yellowstone National Park on our days off, visiting the main attractions and hiking lesser known trails.
Our first hike in the Park is the Narrow Gauge Terrace, a 1 mile round trip with an elevation gain of 320 feet. Mammoth has changed in the years since our last visit with the kids in the 1980's. We observe many large dormant terraces mostly devoid of the magnificent colors of the past. The amount of water in the hot spring system is believed to remain constant. So if one spring goes dormant, its water may remain underground or, somewhere else, a new spring may burst to life. We find the new spring on this hike, hidden from the view most visitors see. The hidden gem is directly behind the Narrow Gauge Terrace, named for its resemblance of a graded road bed ready for tie and rail.
Great quantities of rain and snow fall in Yellowstone. This water percolates down into the ground where it's superheated by the heat radiating from partially molten rock a few miles within the earth's crust. This hot water then rises to the surface through cracks in the ground. What makes the Mammoth Hot Springs different from all the other colorful pools in the park is that these hot waters are coming up through limestone rather than the rhyolitic lava that covers much of the park. These springs look like a cave that has been turned inside out, with its delicate formations exposed for all to see.
On the way up through the earth, the water absorbs gasses rising from the magma chamber below, primarily carbon dioxide. The combination fo this gas and water creates a weak acid that dissolves the limestone. When exposed to air at the surface, some of the carbon dioxide escapes from this solution. Then, the limestone can no longer remain in solution and it reforms as a solid rock called travertine. While many geological processes occur over decades and centuries, travertine is created by the minute, as much as 22 inches per year!
Wooden staircases and boardwalks traverse the terraces. We found this trail to be an easier hike up then the boardwalks would be, with a better feature to visit. We return to the Mighty 350 hiking down the terraces on these boardwalks.
A trip into Gardiner, Montana for groceries and fuel brings us to the north entrance of Yellowstone. A great stone archway greets us as well as slightly lower prices on supplies.
Animal count on today's travels was 4 grizzly bears, 2 black bears, many bison, numerous elk, and a small herd of bighorn sheep.