The northern part of Yellowstone has remarkably inspiring and delightful scenery. The road followed the curves of a swift and narrow tributary of the Gardner River and the Gardner River itself. Piled up rocks and jagged rock formations, such as Eagle Nest Rock, were interspersed with the thick growth of fir trees. From the road we had a great panoramic view of green valleys nestled between mountain ranges. Small blue lakes were surrounded by fir trees and snow-capped mountains loomed in the background. We spotted two young skinny deer on a bank of the river.
Just after the turn to Tower Falls we saw a herd of pronghorns and a grizzly with a cub. Mama grizzly and her cub were walking away from the road about 500 feet from us, on the slope of a mountain. They walked slowly between fir trees. We could not park our car to take a picture because of the crowds of tourists on the side of the road. Rain check on grizzlies!
Tower Fall was created on the edge of a cliff, where Tower Creek plunges 132 feet (40 m) down. Over the years water and wind eroded the softer rock leaving the hard volcanic rock in shapes of towers on the rim of the fall.
From Tower Fall we headed to Lamar Valley, famous for its abundant wildlife. The Lamar River flows in the lush and grassy valley. It’s a place where wildlife can be seen during sunrise and sunset. However, we were too lazy to get up at 5 a.m. or stay until sunset. Rain check on wolves, bears, elk and moose! There was a large herd of buffalo with their calves grazing and resting in the valley. Some of the mothers were suckling their red dogs.
We stopped to see Undine Falls. The water cascaded gracefully in three successive falls and rushed away in a curvy whitewater stream. This waterfall is tall but not as mighty as Lower Falls. It is very beautiful and mesmerizing, like its namesake mythical creature. Undine is a female spirit, who lives in the woods in lakes and waterfalls. Undine would gain a human soul if she marries a man, but this union comes with a curse. Undine’s husband dies if he would be unfaithful to her. The name to the waterfall was given by the German geologist Arnold Hague in 1885.
Porcelain Basin, which is a part of Norris Basin, lived up to its name. The white, beige, grey and blue pallet of this basin is due to the siliceous sinter, a mineral contained in the water of hot springs. The hot water erupts and spills on the surface of the basin. It creates a thin fragile crust, which looks like fine porcelain. The area is very active and hot. There are lots of fumaroles, which are steam vents with temperatures up to 280 F (138 C). These also have a very limited water supply, which makes them fume. When water boils over and evaporates, the steam and gas come out of a vent with a great deal of force. There are many turquoise hot springs. Some are calm and some are boiling. Streams of green, orange, and rusty colored water spill over the surface. These unusual colors in the streams were created by warm loving microorganisms, called thermophiles.
We had to stop for twenty minutes due to construction work on the road. While waiting, we watched two ducks swimming in a creek. The creek flowed between tall pines and fir trees. The wind rustled in the fluffy green branches of the trees and they dropped needles into the water of the creek. Then, the wind brought the sound of an elk from the heart of the woods. It sounded like a scream.