Today we drove the southern loop – Madison, West Thumb, Fishing Bridge, Canyon Junction and Norris Junction. The first of our main destinations was Yellowstone Lake in the south east corner of the park. It’s a lovely drive along its north western shore and the lake is so big it feels like you are by the sea. It was lunch time when we arrived at Gull Point and we stopped for lunch at a picnic spot overlooking the lake. It was a little overcast and we had a few drops of rain during our stay there. As we looked out into the lake we saw about seven otters swimming, playing and diving. One of them hauled itself up onto the shore before plunging back in.
After lunch we went to the Bridge Bay Marina to hire a boat, which we took onto the lake. We were warned about the changeable weather in Yellowstone and we still remember how quickly things changed in Glacier. So we kept a close eye on the sky for the warning signs. But it remained nice and sunny so we enjoyed a fast sail around the lake. We were one of the few boats out there today so it was very peaceful and laid back.
Our next main destination was Canyon Junction and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. We travelled there alongside the Yellowstone River, such a beautiful river and we had a very close encounter with Bison again. They stopped the traffic for some time, until they were ready to move on. Nothing rushes a Bison! We parked at Uncle Tom’s Point and walked the South Rim Trail overlooking the canyon. The Yellowstone River plunges over the 308ft Lower Falls into the canyon sending up a cloud of mist far below. Its sound is amazing and exhilarating and the various viewpoints along the trail really do give the best views of the falls.
Upon returning from the walk we decided to take Uncle Tom’s Trail, which takes you right down into the canyon to the foot of the waterfall so you can see its full glory and feel the force and weight of the water as it hits the canyon floor. The path winds back and forth down the 500ft decent and you are aided by 328 metal steps. It’s easy going down but coming back is different! But we have to admit the hard work is worth the view at the bottom.
As evening came on we were still walking and still had an hour drive back home. But we stopped in West Yellowstone to visit a Tapas and Paella restaurant we had spotted when we arrived a few days ago. We had a really nice Paella with fantastic service and a good price – a nice ending to another day in Yellowstone National Park.