Trip To Yellowstone National Park

By Marc Bowen

My wife and I had an enjoyable trip to Yellowstone with my parents. It had been two years since we were there last. The park is only about 80 miles from our home, about a two-hour drive. You would think we would go more often.

The Mesa Falls Scenic By-Way

On the way there we stopped at Lower and Upper Mesa Falls. My parents said its been about 35 years since they last drove the Mesa Falls Scenic By-way. It is a beautiful drive and worth the visit to see both falls and visitor center.

Photo by: Marc Bowen

Big Springs, Island Park

We also stopped at Big Springs in Island Park. It was the first time any of us have been there. Big Springs is a first-magnitude spring and produces over 120 gallons of water each day. It’s also the head waters of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. Beautiful place but we forgot our mosquito repellent and had to out-run them most of the time we were there.

Photo by: Marc Bowen
Photo by: Marc Bowen

The Seagulls were out in force and used to being fed by the tourists.

West Yellowstone

We arrived in West Yellowstone, checked into our room and then visited the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center across the street. Interesting exhibit although I would rather see the animals free instead of caged. I do understand the Discovery Centers mission and the center is well set up and informative.

Our evening was spent in the Park.

Photo by: Marc Bowen

If you haven’t been to Yellowstone you should know that the buffalo (or bison if you’re not a native of Idaho or Wyoming) are the most plentiful of the animals in the park and although they look as tame as cattle, more visitors are injured by them than by other critters. But I wouldn’t blame the buffalo. It’s the stupid humans who think they can back up against them and take a selfie while the animal eats grass. It used to be when I was a kid it was the bears causing the traffic jams in the park. Now its the buffalo. Best to just be patient and enjoy the show.

We took the Firehole River loop and enjoyed seeing white-water and waterfalls.

Firehole Falls – Photo by: Marc Bowen
Firehole River Gorge
Cascades of the Firehole – Photo by: Marc Bowen

We then continued on down the road to the Lower Geyser Basin which is the largest geyser basin (11 square miles) in the park.

Evening seemed  the perfect time of day to visit not only because of the great light and cooler temperature. We noticed a huge line of cars headed out of the park when we were headed in so that by the time we reached the basin, crowds were pretty small.


Fountain Paint Pot Trail, Lower Geyser Basin

A good share of this trail is paved and the rest is all boardwalk.

Photo by: Marc Bowen


Silex Spring – Photo by: Marc Bowen
Fountain Paint Pots – Photo by: Marc Bowen
Red Spouter – Photo by: Marc Bowen
Clepsydra Geyser – Photo by: Marc Bowen



Mammoth Hot Springs

The next day we drove up to Mammoth Hot Springs at the north end of the park. It’s a beautiful drive and there are many places to stop, stretch your legs and see something new.

Mammoth Hot Springs is a large complex of hot springs on a hill of travertine and is adjacent to Fort Yellowstone and The Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District. We chose to stop at the lower terraces and I walked the board walk there enjoying each of the springs along the way.

Lower Terraces boardwalk – Photo by: Marc Bowen
Looking across Lower Terraces to the town of Mammoth Hot Springs – Photo by: Marc Bowen
Photo by: Marc Bowen
Photo by: Marc Bowen
Photo by: Marc Bowen
Photo by: Marc Bowen
Photo by: Marc Bowen

We only spent parts of two days in the park and just scratched the surface of the beautiful canyons, alpine rivers, lush forests, hot springs, numberless wildlife and gushing geysers that await visitors here. Every time I visit I am always amazed at the size of this park. Yellowstone is huge, covering 3,500 square miles. Lots to see and less time to visit then we would have liked but we had a wonderful time and look forward to our next visit!











Taggart Lake – Beaver Creek Loop

By: Marc Bowen

I live a little over an hour away from two national parks. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Both parks can be pretty crazy with the amount of people visiting in the summertime. These two parks are amazingly beautiful in their own way. I spent most of this summer hiking the trails in the Tetons. One of these trails is the Taggart Lake Loop.

Photo By: Marc Bowen


I live on the Idaho side of the Tetons so I drive over the mountain into Jackson Wyoming and then enter the park through the south entrance near Moose Wyoming. Just a few miles up the road on the inner highway is a parking lot and restrooms just off the highway. We left home well before light and arrived at the trail head just at sunrise (this is a good idea if you want to beat the crowds as this is a popular hike). As we exited our car we could hear an elk bugling and as we donned our gear we could see on the ridge where we were headed several elk in the trees. If you have ever heard the sound of a bull elk bugling in the cool morning air it is a sound you won’t forget. Even in midsummer early mornings are in the low 40’s so it’s best to dress in layers (by afternoon the temperature rose to about 80 degrees).


The hike into Taggart Lake is an easy hike with only a 277 foot elevation gain. There is one trail leading from the parking lot straight toward the Tetons across a flat area and then over a glacial moraine. It’s 3.2 miles in and out or you can take the loop from the lake south around and back along Beaver Creek and that is about 4 miles. We took the 4 mile loop in order to come back a different way.

Photo By: Marc Bowen

After you leave the parking lot, and cross the flats the trail winds through some beautiful aspen groves that are especially beautiful in the fall.

Photo By: Marc Bowen

The trail then crosses Taggart Creek via a bridge that is perfect for photos.

Photo By: Marc Bowen

While on the bridge look to your left for a great view of a waterfall

Photo By: Marc Bowen

The trail crosses Taggart Creek, circles past Park Service corrals and an historic old barn and cabin from the homestead era ( circa 1911 ), and turns back towards the mountains.

Manges Cabin 1911 – Photo by: Marc Bowen

The trail then climbs up the moraine along the creek then as you flatten out and walk towards the mountains the trail then splits right towards Bradley Lake ( see my Bradley Lake Loop Trail post ) and left toward Taggart Lake through an old burn and down to the lake.

Photo By: Marc Bowen

Taggart Lake is a pristine glacial lake sitting at the base of Avalanche Canyon with views of the high peaks behind. I am told that fishing for trout from the shore is pretty good. The water is cold and I’m sure the fish would be tasty. This is a perfect place to break out the camera for photos or canvas and brushes to begin a painting. We lingered here for about an hour then continued south around the end of the lake across a footbridge over a low rise then down along Beaver Creek back to the trail head. The parking lot was full to overflowing when we returned with people of all ages headed up the trail. As I said before this area is very popular and if you want to beat the crowd and the heat go early!