Telluride Locals' National Park Road Trip, Fall 2010

by Eliot Brown; photos by Mary Sama-Brown

Part 2, "Park City to Yellowstone"

(Ed. note: The first installment of the Browns' road trip was published on Telluride Inside… and Out on November 22)

Wind power At 8:30 AM, Monday we put Park City in the rear view mirror and headed out on Interstate 80 toward Evanston, WY, and then North on US 89 along the Idaho/Wyoming boarder toward Jackson Hole for Grant Village in Yellowstone National Park.  The 6 3/4 hour drive past huge windmill power farms, huge ranches, beautiful prairies and valleys with little or no traffic allowed the 911 to strut her stuff.  My wife Mary only had to close her eyes a couple of times as I enjoyed the open road, albeit, sometimes a bit aggressively.

It is only fitting that I insert a little Yellowstone history here to pay tribute to our first national park.  Near the headwaters of the Yellowstone River, an area home to the Shoshone Tribe, John Colter, in the early 1800s described what was mocked as Colter’s Hell, a place where mud boiled and steam rose from the ground. 

It wasn’t until 1870 that Colter’s tales were finally believed: Nathaniel Pitt Langford, an employee of the Northern Pacific railroad, completed an expedition into Yellowstone and then wrote and lectured throughout the Eastern United States about his discoveries.  Langford was interested in Yellowstone as a tourist attraction, from which his railroad would benefit. A. B. Nettleton, a lobbyist for the Northern Pacific railroad, convinced Ferdinand Hayden, head of the US Geological Survey of the Territories to have Congress pass a bill that would reserve Yellowstone and its geysers as a national park. On March 1, 1872, President Grant, signed a bill creating Yellowstone National Park and the two million acres that it encompassed. 

It was not until 1894 when President Cleveland, at the urging of Teddy Roosevelt and publisher George Grinnell, signed a law known as the “Act to Protect the Birds and Animals in Yellowstone National Park,” that the park was finally managed properly.

Late in the afternoon, we arrived at the Grant Village reception center and transferred to our basic non-TV second floor room.  Dinner that night at the large Grant Village dining room overlooking the west end of Yellowstone Lake was adequate.  We did enjoy a good before dinner laugh with the bartender after she took a ration of abuse from a client who was very unhappy with his margarita.  He seemed to have forgotten he was in Yellowstone and not Houston.

Grand Prismatic Tuesday morning we eagerly set out toward Madison, for our first park destination, the Grand Prismatic.  This large boiling cauldron is a sight to behold.  Our first walk around the Grand Prismatic was disappointing as its beauty needs to be seen from above.  We noticed some hikers atop a steep hill, not too far away and overlooking the Grand Prismatic.  A short hike and then climb up the hill revealed the marvelous site.

Buffalo Old Faithful We continued our hike to Fairy Falls, where we enjoyed not only the view of the falls, but also of geysers spouting in the distance.  The mid afternoon was bringing our only rain for the entire trip, so we returned to our room and looked forward to my birthday dinner at the Old Faithful Inn that evening.

Photo credits, Mary Sama-Brown. Captions, top to bottom:

1. A small segment of a large wind power farm as an example of Wyoming’s use of its vast natural energy resource

2. Grand Prismatic (160 deg F, 160 feet deep)  largest hot spring in the US and third largest in the world

3. Old Faithful

4. Buffalo roam freely around the parking lot at Old Faithful

To be continued…

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