July 3, 2016

Our All American Vacation

We've taken a few days vacation after our North American Rock Garden Society conference in Steamboat Springs, CO which was rather exhausting yet terrific. An 8 hour drive brought us to Jackson Hole, the Teton National Park and Yellowstone. I rented a cabin in the Tetons for a few days, which allowed us to rest ( if one can call hiking and touring around this amazing National Park 'relaxing') and some time to explore and of course, botanize a bit. Mostly though, I wanted to check off Yellowstone from my bucket list.

Since I am on vacation, I won't write much in this post. I'll just share some photos. Enjoy, and happy Fourth of July!

The vistas and views were so magnificent, and strangely familiar even though I had never been here before. One just seems to  'know' Yellowstone especially if one is American. the geothermal features like Old Faithful, the Prismatic Pool, bubbling Mud Pots and the many fumaroles are as iconic as the many waterfalls in the park.

The tiered pools and travertine mineral deposits at the Mammoth Hot Springs didn't disappoint.

The Azure Spring was not only perfectly clear, it was so colorful on our bright blue-sky day that the colors seemed artificial.

Bison were everywhere, and in early summer, males are independent, often resting near the many geothermal features, we felt, because of the dust bath opportunities - the minerals (sulphur) may help with mites and in shedding.

Yellowstone offers many large lakes, rivers and long vista's (not unlike Iceland), where one can see many miles of pure, virgin land.

We learned a lot about the benefits of wild fires and forest fires, a the burn out above from ten years ago proves - a new forest can grow quickly.. In fact, forest fire over-protection is one of the great concerns as natural burns help reduce the impact of the Pine beetles, which have affected nearly 31,000 square miles of forest in Wyoming, and have killed 95% of the large White Bark Pine trees. Most experts believe and temperature and global climate change is behind this devastating outbreak of Pine Beetle.

We could hear the roar of the Snake River as it tumbled over Lower Falls from high above the canyon, before we hiked the switchbacks down a few thousand feet.

Up close, Lower Falls was even more powerful, and, of course, stunning.

Once we hiked above Lower Falls, and near the edge of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, we spotted this eagle's nest with an eaglet. Can you spot it?

Joe photographs a Trumpeter Swan on the Snake River.

There are many species and natural hybrids of Indian Paintbrush growing throughout the West. I am  not about to key out the species, but this red one was exceptionally pretty in the morning sunshine.

Lance leaved Stonecrop, or Sedum lanceolatum growing near the edge if the Prismatic Pools.

Sedum lanceolatum, seemed to tolerate the harshest conditions near steam vents and geysers.

Eriogonum ovalifolium var. purpureum, Purple Cushion buckwheat.

Most common were the yellow or sulphur Buckwheats. With so many species in the park, and my lack of any identification keys, I can only guess which species this is. Perhaps  Eriogonum flavum?

The Abyss Pool was breathtaking, at the West Thumb Geyser area of the park.

Mimulus guttatus, a tiny yellow Monkey Flower seemed to prefer growing in volcanic pumice near the edge of what we believed were rather toxic fumaroles. It was one of the few plants that grew near these sulphurous vents near Mammoth Hot Springs.

There are a few species of Monkey Flower or Mimulus in Yellowstone. We found the larger pink species, Mimulus lewisii just beginning to bloom near a stream.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone was magnificent. I mean, this reminded me of my brothers old Viewmaster slides of Yellowstone, when I was a kid.

Polemonium pulcherrimum, a type of Jacob's Ladder.
Silky Fringe, Phacelia sericea on Mount Washburn, 9,000 ft.

A yellow columbine (with a few pinkish specimens) also blooming on Mount Washburn.

Also on Mount Washburn, Castilleja rhexifolia  (Rhexia-leaved Indian Paintbrush) offered a brilliant pink display on rocky cliffs.

We saw the alpine mountain phlox, Phlox multiflora growing above tree line in many locations in the Tetons and in Colorado in the Rockies on this trip, but the ones growing in Yellowstone at high elevation near 10,000 were some of the nicest specimens. 

Phlox multiflora growing high on a steep cliff on Mount Washburn. We found phlox growing in meadows, on sandy slopes in full fun, in shady areas and on bare, exposed cliffs.

1 comment :

  1. You're making me miss Yellowstone! That's Eriogonum flavum v. piperi you found. It's everywhere. Make sure you go to Old Faithful Inn before you leave for the full American National Park experience.


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