11:00 a.m. Elephant Back Trek (Ranger Led)
5:15 p.m. Lake Yellowstone Hotel Dinner: Menu(dress code is casual)
7:15 p.m. Historic Yellow Bus Tour: Lake Butte Sunset ride ($32)
Hotel: Canyon Lodge and Cabins
Our group split into a few factions on Day 7 - Dan, Diana, Andy, Nancy and I followed the plans above to a T. Mark and Debbie went out to to the East entrance of the park to visit family, dropping Joey, JD and Andrew off for a strenuous hike up Avalanche Peak (elevation 10,440 ft). Our ranger-led hike was slow for my pace, but it was great to learn so much from the ranger.
After the hike we had a lot of time left to explore the Grand Canyon scenic drives, which are truly beautiful. Dinner at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel was wonderful, and the bus tour was great, although some of the group (who weren’t into history much) didn’t really enjoy it. The bus is open on the top, so it’s worthwhile to bring warm clothing on this adventure! If we had done this tour earlier in our trip, it might have been a bit more enjoyable for the others, since we had already seen many of the sights that were on the tour.
I do wish that we had been able to stay at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel or in the cabins there, it would make a great substitution for the Canyon Cabins, and these two areas are fairly close to one another, maybe 20-30 min drive…. Which is nothing in park time. Plus, while at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel for dinner, I found out about the "coffee with a ranger" morning program (which I never read about anywhere else). You basically got to sit around the fire, drinking coffee and asking a ranger questions. I would have loved that. Maybe next time.
|ranger led hike of Elephant Back|
|view from the top of Elephant Back|
|Lake Yellowstone Hotel, super zoomed in.|
|Hiking back down Elephant Back|
|near the Canyon area|
|where the buffalo roam...|
|Joey, JD and Andrew atop Avalanche Peak|
|Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from Artist's Point|
|Awaiting our seats for dinner at the Lake Yellowstone dining room|
|Yellow Bus Tour - open roof!|
|Falls by Yellowstone Lake|
|that's me in the bumper!|
|back at fishing bridge on the Yellow Bus Tour|
|taking in sunset - part of the tour|
|Andrew, Dan, Joey - also watching the sun set... it gets VERY cold here at night!|
9:00 a.m. Walking the Edge Ranger Led Hike of the South Rim of the Canyon
Exploring the Canyon Area:
Falls near Canyon, Artist Point; Brink of Falls
3:45 Depart Roosevelt Corrals for Old West Dinner Cookout ($80)
Hotel: Canyon Lodge & Cabins[ACS2]
After the pace of the ranger-led hike on Day 7, we decided to go it alone around the Canyon on Day 8. Andy, Joey, JD, Andrew, Dan and I hiked all around the Canyon area, including the Uncle Tom’s hike. This is a very strenuous and nerve wracking hike because such a large portion of it is on metal grated stairs, which is distracting to the eye and tough to climb, but it provided a great view of the falls. Mark, Debbie, Diana and Nancy had done enough hiking, so they took a ride out to a river to do some animal spotting. On our way to meet them in the Roosevelt/Tower area, we spotted some wildlife too - black bears, a fox and a wolf!
Later in the day we all drove out to the Roosevelt/Tower area and saw one of the petrified trees. This was a let-down - though there was no hiking involved, so it was a pretty small time commitment. The Petrified tree stands inside a fence to preserve it. There is only one in that particular location, and you can't touch it to really absorb how amazing it is that a tree has turned to stone. Luckily, there was a bit more time before the horseback ride to dinner - so we split up again. Joey, Andrew and Andy went out to Lamar Valley driving around in search of the buffalo herds. JD and I decided to hike into the Petrified Forrest in order to see and touch some of the petrified stumps. This was easily the most strenuous hike I did on the entire trip - we gained an elevation of about 1,500 feet in 1.5 miles. We only had about an hour in which to do this, so we kept hiking onward and upward until we found a singular stump. I rested at said stump while JD pressed on (to be fair, he was 18 and a lot tougher than me). By the time we finally got to see the petrified remains, we only had 15 minutes to get back to the bottom - so we ran. On the way, we passed a fox! It was a bit of a stressful situation because at this point in the trip, tempers were flaring, and we didn't want to be late in meeting the van. But running down a steep precipice with 15 pounds of camera gear strapped to your back is no easy feat. We made it though, and no one yelled at me or JD - VICTORY.
The Old West Dinner cookout was a fun time and a nontraditional dinner, though I would not recommend taking the horseback ride, stick to the wagon and save your knees, hips, etc.
It was a very long drive back to the Canyon Cabins.
|morning animal sighting on our way into the Canyon|
|you can see the spray from the falls in the distance!|
|high elevation = more sunscreen|
|at "brink of falls" point|
|You cannot believe the sheer volume of water tumbling over these falls|
|view from Uncle Tom's staircase - worth it|
|Dan and Andrew raced back up....|
|Stop at Tower/Roosevelt pull-out|
|Tower/Roosevelt look-out, a beautiful area|
|Our fox sighting - driving to Tower/Roosevelt|
|Black bear sighting - also in Tower/Roosevelt|
|the petrified tree behind a fence|
|yes, this really happens... a lot.|
|the start of my hike with JD into the Petrified Forrest|
|see that little, tiny, itsy-bitsy white spot in the middle of the photo? That's the parking lot area.|
|no special effects, it really was this steep!|
|JD waiting for me to catch up|
|beautiful view - lush surroundings|
|JD hiking up... again, yes it's really that steep!|
|KING OF THE MOUNTAIN - see that tiny white speck level with my shoulder? |
That's the parking lot... be there in 15 minutes!
|fox sighting! He was really that close!|
|Stagecoaches arrived after us|
|our horses waiting for us (they got to eat first)|
|super size dinner bell|