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July 21, 2015

Yellowstone National Park–North and East Sides

NOTE: Road Work …. I did not take pictures going north from the Norris Junction  Why?  The road has 10 miles of dirt, rocks and mud.  There is a sign at the junction to expect delays to construction, but gives no hint of the length of the work.  Any available turnout is filled with construction equipment.
If I had it to do over I’d take the cross road to Canyon Junction (enjoy the Virginia Cascade) and then north.

The Mammoth Hot Springs are are located at the North Entrance and are also the Park Headquarters.  Elk abound on the grounds of the campus.
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This is quite an otherworld landscape with terraces of pools, ponds, geysers and vents to view.  It will not disappoint.
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Leaving Mammoth Hot Springs down the east side the landscape is more open.  With grassy meadows, treed slopes and waterfalls.

Below Undine Falls a nice short hike thru the walk along the Forces of the Northern Range Trail will provide some insight on the creation of Yellowstone.  .
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The Petrified Tree will require an RV to park at the turnout just of the Grand Loop Road.  The trail is a bit hard to find but offers a nice walk through a meadow.
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Tower Falls is quite popular and parking can be tight, but well worth the effort.
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The campsite at Canyon Village Campground was nearly a mile off the road.  Quiet in the back woods.  Again the scooter was the only means of motorized transport needed, while the hiking boots filled in the gaps between parking spots.  The solar panel I carry is a 100 watt solar suitcase by Renogy.
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Dinner of fajitas was cooked over the campfire.
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With on-again-off-again showers it was time for the North Rim Trail that is available from the campground, although we did use the scooter to access the trail head.  Great views of the Lower Yellowstone Falls are available.
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We hiked down the Red Rock Trail to a lower viewpoint.  Along the trail is a well established osprey nest with 2 chicks in the nest, but mom was a bit camera shy.
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Final stop at Inspiration Point.
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For the best views the Upper Yellowstone Falls we hiked the South Rim Trail after the weather cleared early afternoon, allowing time to add the South Rim Trail to the day.  We road the scooter to the Wapiti Picnic area just across the bridge at the Artist Point turnoff.

Our plan was to go up to Artist Point on the South Rim Trail and return via the Wapiti Trail.  The South Rim Trail offers views of both the Upper and Lower Falls and a good view of the Brink of the Falls parking area with the original Corps of Engineers bridge now a foot bridge.

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The ‘Brink of the Falls’ as viewed from the South Rim, and the the North Rim viewpoint seen just to the right in the second picture.
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At the junction of the South Rim Trail and Uncle Tom’s Trail the congestion was quite significant.  Once we realized the Wapiti Trail could be picked  up here it was a no-brainer to alter our route.  Meadows, crowds?

From the far end of the parking area the gradual climb was through meadow, lodgepole pine to Clear Lake, the mud pots, the Lily Pad Lake before joining the Solitude Point trail a half mile beyond Artists Point.
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We were in for quite a surprise at Lily Pad Lake ….
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as a black bear enjoyed an afternoon swim.

Most all visitors to the park must climb the stairs at Artists Point.  Think many were still there as we arrived, but the views do make it a mandatory stop.
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The return along the South Rim Trail proved much less crowded and provided views of the Lower and Upper Falls in solitude.
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Leaving tomorrow for the Grand Teton National Park …

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