In October of this year, while on assignment in Bozeman for the Montana Music Educators Conference, I had an opportunity to break away for several hours and do something on my own. Being only 90 mins away from the North entrance of Yellowstone National Park, coming here was the obvious choice.
My hosts at The Lark Hotel (a beautiful, simple, modern boutique hotel that was a nice break from the Hilton chain of hotels I usually find myself in) suggested this entrance, and then to drive south, perhaps to Old Faithful, then back up and out the Western entrance. I did just this and it was a perfect 5-6 hour trip. Relaxed, unbelievably (literally) scenic, and given the time of year, quiet – none of the bumper-to-bumper sightseers, photographers, and wildlife-gawkers this place might otherwise be filled within the peak tourist months.
What struck me the most were the extreme colors, heat, and billowing of the many geysers and hot springs that line the highways. Perhaps naïve, I wasn’t prepared for this, and even if I’d happen to catch Old Faithful at its eruption time (I was an hour early, and had no desire to wait for it), it wouldn’t have compared to what I got to see all along my drive.
Heated deep underground, water rises through buried limestone, then deposits the mineral calcite above ground. As the hot spring water flows, trees, grass, “thermophiles” (heat-loving organisms that both are born and die here), and even the boardwalk that guides the viewer along these hot springs… all eventually are buried and vanish! I certainly don’t understand it, but it’s obvious to see how Yellowstone’s hot springs are among Earth’s most extreme environments.
Also of note, I wanted to share are a couple food spots in Bozeman that shouldn’t be missed. The bowl is the Spicy Bibimbap Bowl (carrots, spinach, mushrooms, bean sprouts, fried egg, a spicy paste called gochujang, and kimchi over rice) from Whistle Pig Korean. The other photo is a Chef’s Bar view from inside Bisl Food which drew me in twice in two successive nights – and ranks high on the best meals of the year.
Until next time,
The Candid Traveler