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Trip 1, Day 9: Yellowstone National Park - Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower-Roosevelt Areas

Our final day in Yellowstone covered the Mammoth Hot Springs area as well as the Lamar Valley and Tower-Roosevelt area. We were stopped by bison traffic-jams twice during the day, including having a calf decide to nurse from its mother in the middle of the roadway. In both cases, bison passed very close to the truck...they are just HUGE animals!

We also stopped to view wildlife in the Lamar Valley. While we mainly saw bison and antelope, there was a pack of wolves in the distance and we spotted one of them crossing the valley. That was close enough for us!

We drove through the Mammoth Hot Springs Terrace area, which is one of the major geyser areas in the park with very interesting formations and several areas looking like a lunar landscape.

Heading toward the Tower-Roosevelt area, we stopped to hike the Forces of the Northern Range boardwalk trail, which provided a beautiful perspective, with sage brush growing in the valley and the mountains in the distance.

We also briefly stopped to see the Petrified Tree, which is about 50 million years old. The tree itself is fenced off to prevent tourists from taking small pieces as souvenirs, as had been done in the past.

The road to Tower Falls and the Canyon area as well as the Roosevelt Lodge area were closed, so we took the route to the northeast entrance to the park through the Lamar Valley and along Soda Butte Creek. The drive along the river and the mountains was spectacular! After a quick stop in the small town of Cooke City, we retraced our route back to Mammoth, stopping between Mammoth and the north entrance to the park for a hike across the Gardner River (a tributary of the Yellowstone River) and across a plateau where a few elk were grazing.

Our final stop at Yellowstone was the Roosevelt Arch at the north entrance to the park before hitting the road for the 90-minute drive to Bozeman, Montana. Along the road north of Yellowstone, we saw large fields filled with herds of elk! For dinner, we stopped at the Montana Ale Works for great food. Although they are not a brew pub, they feature craft brews from around the region and have a good selection. We also enjoyed an excellent beer at the Bozeman Brewing Company. Bozeman itself is a beautiful city with snow-capped mountains all around!

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