Robin's Adventures

In the Woods
Our Adventures in Montana and Wyoming

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is 24 miles long and between 800 and 1,200 feet deep. The Yellowstone river winds its way through the canyon eroding the hydrothermally soft and brittle rhyolite rock that forms the walls of the canyon.

The minerals in the rock, most notably iron, change colors as they are exposed to the elements creating beautiful colors throughout the canyon.

Lower Yellowstone Falls, the tallest waterfall in the park, is 308 feet tall.

Gibbon Falls

Gibbon Falls, which has an 84 foot drop over rock that is part of a caldera or collapsed volcanic crater, is a spectacular waterfall located on the Gibbon River just upstream of where the river joins the Firehole River. We enjoyed the natural trail that provided wonderful views of the falls.

Tower Falls

Tower Falls drops in an unbroken descent 132 feet into the gorge below. The waterfall is named for the tower-like rock pinnacles at the top of the falls.

Also surrounding the canyon near the waterfall is an interesting rock formation composed of a series of basalt columns that look like fence posts in nice neat rows.

Bison

There are close to 5,000 bison living in Yellowstone National Park. Road signs throughout the park and surrounding areas warned motorists that just around any corner you might run into a bison. Since males can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and females up to 1,000 pounds, it would not be a pleasant encounter.

During our visit to the park we saw quite a few bison, but the ones we saw were more interested in grazing than wandering about on the roads.

Elk and Deer

There are about ten to twenty thousand elk who spend their summer months in Yellowstone. During the winter months, most migrate to lower elevations.

The males, which weigh about 700 pounds, grow antlers in the spring which generally fall off the following March or April.

The females, which weigh about 500 pounds, generally give birth to a single calf in May or June.

Mule deer, with their large oversized ears, were also ubiquitous throughout the park.

Small Wonders

There were lots of smaller creatures in Yellowstone. We came across a Blue Corporal Dragonfly, a Citrus Long-Horned Beetle, and a chipmunk. Very cool!

Earthquake Lake

Earthquake Lake is a beautiful lake in the heart of Gallatin National Forest that was created along the Madison River by a horrible disaster. The lake is 6 miles long and the highway that leads into West Yellowstone skirts along the edge of the lake for several miles offering scenic views as well as little glimpses into the geologic disaster upon which the lake was born.

In the early morning the dead trees along one edge of the lake are filled with cormorants who have made the lake their home.

Geologic Disaster

A strong earthquake in the 7.3 to 7.5 range on the Richter Scale struck near midnight on August 17, 1959. The quake caused a landslide on the south face of Sheep Mountain so massive that more than 80 million tons of rock moving at 100 miles per hour crashed into a narrow canyon blocking the Madison River.

Hurricane force winds were strong enough to move cars. Twenty-eight people lost their lives in this disaster.

Ghost Village

During the 1959 Earthquake, Hebgen Dam, which is upstream from the slide area that formed Earthquake Lake, managed to hold. The lake behind the dam, however, dropped 19 feet (Hebgen Lake is referred to as the lake that tilted) and cabins in the campground along its shore were washed into the water and carried away by the huge waves that formed during the quake.

The cabins later washed ashore near the banks of the Madison River just below the dam. Today this area is a campground and a popular fishing area, but the \"ghost village\" of partially intact cabins remains on the far shore as an eerie reminder of Mother Nature's fury in 1959.

Wildflowers to Cover Mother Nature's Faults

The area around Earthquake Lake is filled with peaceful forests and beautiful wildflowers. Although potentially deadly faults lurk ominously below the surface, the natural beauty above ground works to hide Mother Nature's faults.