|Steam and dead trees on the Terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs|
I have returned for another season in Yellowstone, arriving in the park on May 10 to less snow than I have had some years. It wasn't that they didn't have snow this year, it just melted early.
I am slow updating my blog. With the high number of visitors and almost everyone using their cell phones or tablets for texting and various internet uses, getting on is difficult at best. Even when I get on, I sometimes get dropped. Now I am playing catch-up. This will be a photo essay of various scenes in May and the first half of June.
I am again leading photo tours in the Historic Yellow Bus or Touring car, heading out at 6 a.m. after a short orientation in the lobby of the Old Faithful Inn. By then I have already been on the job for an hour as I prep the bus, checking fluids, tire pressure, paperwork from the previous log and picking up muffins in the Inn kitchen. This means going to bed early, before the sun is down. But the lighting is good and we don't deal with crowds until the return near the end of the tour.
Crowds are an issue this year. Last year saw a 17% increase in visitation over 2014. Already this year it looks like we will be well over last years 4.1 million visitors. A combination of factors including the 100th Anniversary of the Park Service, lower gas prices, reluctance by many Americans to travel overseas these days, greater awareness of our national treasures through the Ken Burns program, The National Parks; America's Best Idea, and greater visitation from other countries, especially China now that foreign travel is allowed and there is a growing middle class. The May National Geographic issue dedicated to the Greater Yellowstone Region is probably not a big factor as it came out after most folks had made their summer plans. I do recommend that issue however. It is well written and researched. All of the guides received a complementary copy and I know most of us read it cover to cover.
|Mist at the bottom of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. In early June, with snow melting, the force is incredible.|
|Only anglers are out on cold mornings as early as photographers. Here someone fishes in the Gibbon River|
|Bit of frost and steam from the water, on June 1|
|Mammoth Hot Springs scene|
|For about 20 minutes each sunny morning, when the sun is at the right angle, a rainbow appears at|
the base of the Lower Falls. Some winter snow still remained when this photo was taken.
|Castle Geyser erupts.|
|This photo and the next are of Grand Prismatic Hot Spring, the largest in the park. From the boardwalk it isn't possible to include the entire pool and its magnificient thermophiles in the shot, even with a wide angle lens|
|Patterns in the run off at Biscuit Basin, one of my favorite spots|
|Biscuit Basin with a bison bull|
|Great Fountain on Firehole Lake Drive|
|Spring means baby animals|
|Osprey on nest|
|One pronghorn twin nurses while the other played and looked about|
|bison calf tugs on its mother's tail|
|On a cold marning, I could see steam as he breathed. I shared this morning with friends, Lynn and Gail who were visiting from Martinez, CA|
|Seeing a badger in broad daylight is an unusual treat.|
|This elk looks pretty scraggly. He is still losing his winter coat and his antlers are still growing and are covered in velvet.|
|A marmot suns himself on the rocks|
|This mother coyote was hunting. I watched her catch a ground squirrel and swallow it whole. The tail hung out of her mouth|
|Ground squirrel, NOT the one that was caught in the previous photo|
|Indian Paintbrush comes in a variety of colors from pale yellow to magenta|
|Black and white is a great way to capture the bobby sox trees. These are trees which drowned in water from the geothermal features. The silica remained behind and preserved the trees, giving them the appearance of white sox on the trunks.|
|Scene from Mammoth Hot Springs.|