A week in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, page 2

Page 1: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Mud Volcano, and Yellowstone Lake.
Page 2: The north loop, Tower Falls, and Mammoth Hot Springs
Page 3: Geyser basins and Firehole Canyon
Page 4: Grand Teton

Monday, September 1

Distance: 72.0 miles
Riding time: 6 hours, 18 minutes
Average speed: 11.4 mph
Maximum speed: 43.5 mph

The weather was excellent all day today with clear skies and moderate winds. We spent the day biking counter-clockwise around the north loop road. The loop is 70 miles long. We began with a long climb to Dunraven Pass, then a descent to Tower Falls. The whole loop is much steeper than we expected, with many 6% - 8% grades. A sign at the beginning our our ride warned "Extreme Rough Road" and it was right. The 19 miles to Tower Falls was full of potholes and bumps that made riding tricky. The rest of the road was much better. Tower Falls is a tall waterfall on Tower Creek, a tributary of the Yellowstone River. The road follows the edge of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone for a while, providing great views but making us a bit nervous riding so close to the edge.


An overlook near Dunraven Pass. The trees without leaves in the valley are the result of forest fire. A large amount of the park (perhaps 20%)shows evidence of forest fire.


More forest fire damage. The park's fire policy allows naturally caused fires to burn their natural course. Many hills look like pincushions because of all the bare trees. Other hills have recovered significantly.


A pretty view at the north end of the park.


Bad road conditions. In some places it was much worse than this.


Tower Falls, the tallest waterfall in the park at 132 feet.


Roadside view of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

After Tower Falls we rode 18 miles to Mammoth Hot Springs. On the way we paused to look at a solitary petrified redwood tree. The climate must have been very different at one time to support the growth of redwoods. While riding to Mammoth I was pleased by the lack of any development in sight other than the road even though we could see many miles away. This is a great place to bike. At Mammoth we looked at terraces created by hot mineral water bubbling to the surface and flowing down the hillsides. Most of the springs were dormant, leaving dry white terraces, but a few springs were flowing and had colorful terraces. Microscopic plants and bacteria in the water create the colors.

When we were done looking at Mammoth Hot Springs it was past 4 o'clock, so we had to hurry the rest of the way back to camp. We paused in the Norris Geyser Basin to look at a geyser blowing out steam, but otherwise we pedaled hard up long hills to get back to camp before dark. A tailwind at the end of the day helped speed us along. We rode through a large area burned by a natural forest fire in 1988. Below the tall burned tree trunks a dense new forest of young trees 6 to 10 feet tall was reclaiming the land.

We didn't see any large herds of animals today, but we did see moose, elk and bison. We rode past the bison very slowly for fear of startling them, but they seemed unconcerned with us. We reached camp early enough to cook and eat dinner without needing lights. It's been a good day.


An elk rests on a dry terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs. The terraces and other formations near springs and geysers are formed from a mineral in the water called geyserite or sinter, which is mostly silicon dioxide.


The main terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs. Though active today, even this terrace sometimes turns dormant.


More views of the main terrace.

PREVIOUS <-----> NEXT

Page 1: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Mud Volcano, and Yellowstone Lake.
Page 2: The north loop, Tower Falls, and Mammoth Hot Springs
Page 3: Geyser basins and Firehole Canyon
Page 4: Grand Teton