Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023

Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023
Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023

Monday, August 6, 2012

Otters in the Water and a Collision – Sun., Aug. 5

West Thumb, Bridge Bay and Lake Village, Yellowstone National Park:

Dilly-dallying, moseying, sashaying, enjoying the day. Our first stop was Fishing Bridge Visitor Center. The displays at this Visitor Center are the birds in the park. I love bird watching, so was thrilled to see some of the birds we may spot: trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes (actually we did see two sandhill cranes in the Grand Tetons!), scaups, three types of swallows (we saw cliff swallows today), white pelicans (have seen a few of these already), bald eagles, osprey, great horned owls, gray jays, and quite a few others. Believe it or not, there are also California gulls at Lake Yellowstone.

Historic Fishing Bridge Visitor Center has bird exhibits.

Great chandeliers.
Sandhill crane exhibit in Fishing Bridge Visitor Center.

Second stop was Bridge Bay Marina to sign up for a Lake Yellowstone “Scenicruise.” The tour was available at 2:45 p.m. We made our reservations at 12:45 p.m. Two hours to kill. What should we do? Drive to West Thumb Geyser Basin, that’s what.

On our 21-mile drive south to West Thumb, we turned off at Gull Point Drive. Having driven past the sign a couple of times, we decided to see what was there. A beautiful drive along Lake Yellowstone was our reward. That and three otter heads popping out of the water just as we drove by. So adorable. When I looked out at the lake I certainly did not expect to see otters!

At West Thumb Geyser Basin, we did the ½ mile loop trail around the geysers, fumaroles, hot springs and mud pots. While not as grand as other geologic wonders around the park, it was still interesting to see the features as we overlooked Lake Yellowstone.

West Thumb Geyser Basin overview.

Different organisms live in the hot run-off causing these colors.

Yes, it's really that color!

Afterward, we headed 21 miles back to Bridge Bay for our lake tour. We were early by about 40 minutes. That gave us a chance to drive around the Bridge Bay Campground. It is mostly for tents, campers and small trailers (less than 29’). We would have never maneuvered our 34’ 5th wheel through the small roads in this campground. Also, this campground was very open with trees only around the perimeter.

At 2:45 p.m. we boarded our enclosed Xanterra tour boat.

Xanterra Scenicruise boat.
As we were waiting for the tour to begin, we were entertained by four Japanese young adults who had rented a rowboat. They were having trouble getting out of the marina and collided (oh-so-softly) against our tour boat. They didn’t really know how to use the oars. When they pushed away from our boat and seemed to get theirs under control, everyone on our boat clapped for them. One of the girls on the rowboat went into a fit of giggles. I think they were embarrassed.

We enjoyed our tour and learned about lake geology, volcanology, earthquakes, winter, the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, native cutthroat trout vs. non-native lake trout, and the early entrepreneurs in Yellowstone National Park. 

Lake Yellowstone Hotel from the lake.
Stevenson Island.
In winter Lake Yellowstone freezes over, except in a few places where there are hot springs under the surface. There are a few islands in Lake Yellowstone and the only way animals can get to them are: (a) walk across the ice in winter or (b) swim—moose are the only animals strong enough to swim over and back.

Trout was an interesting topic. Cutthroat trout are native to Lake Yellowstone. Somehow lake trout were introduced into the lake. Lake trout eat cutthroat trout, thereby drastically reducing the numbers of the native fish. The National Park Service is actively trying to reduce the number of lake trout in Lake Yellowstone.

Fishing in the lake is permitted. If you catch a cutthroat trout, you have to release it back into the lake unharmed.

You can catch and keep as many lake trout as you want. If, however, you catch a lake trout and you don’t want it, you have to kill it and throw it back in the lake. There are a couple of commercial fishing ventures operating in Lake Yellowstone which are gill-netting lake trout to try to eradicate as many as possible. When they gill-net lake trout, they have to kill them and throw them back in to prevent water displacement. It’s long and complicated, but very interesting, how they’re trying to eradicate lake trout. There is a $10,000 reward for information and proof of who originally put the lake trout in Lake Yellowstone.

When our lake tour was complete, we went to Lake Yellowstone Hotel for their free 5:30 p.m. tour of the historic hotel. We again learned a lot about the early years in the park, five-day stagecoach tours of the park for wealthy Easterners and Europeans, the introduction of the automobile into the park, and how the railroads helped finance the major hotels.

Lake Yellowstone Hotel.
Welcoming fireplace in the great room.
The great room in Lake Yellowstone Hotel.

As if we don’t have enough to do already in our two weeks, we purchased a book called “Yellowstone Treasures,” by Janet Chapple. Bob just barely started reading it and he’s “overwhelmed.” I told him we need to spend a couple of years in the park, not just two weeks. LOL.

We came back to the 5er. Bob wanted to go jogging, so he took off for Mary’s Point and ran four miles along the shore of Lake Yellowstone. I stayed in the 5er, made and ate tostadas, and wrote this blog. Tonight, we’re going to Lake Lodge which has internet for $4.95/hour and I wanted to have everything written before we went.

Our weather has been absolutely perfect. Daytime temps range from 78-88F. It does get cool at night (42-45F) and we’ve been using our electric space heater.

An update on the vertigo I was experiencing a week or so ago: After doing my exercises before bed for six nights, I have not had any more problems with it.

Hiking up and down hills has not been an issue. It seems I’ve hit my stride and I can breeze up the shorter hills, but still have to rest on the steeper, longer hills. Today was a good day because I got to rest my tired legs and feet. If we hike tomorrow it will have to be early because there is a threat of thunderstorms in the afternoon. I think we are going to Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone area tomorrow to see the Visitor Center and hike to the waterfalls.

There is so much to do here. Every night, there is an illustrated campfire talk by a ranger at each campground in the park. We haven’t been yet, but we will. (We still have 1-1/2 weeks.) [Update: We never did go to a campfire talk.]

Bob is eating his tostadas after his four-mile run and reading more of the “Yellowstone Treasures” book. When he finishes dinner, we’re off to use the internet.

It’s amazing to me how many people check into the campground and only stay one or two nights. There’s so much to see and do here. Two weeks is just scratching the surface.

My brain has disgorged as much information as possible today.

Travel Bug out.


  1. "Paying by the hour"? Wow. Seems crazy.
    We have so many wifi hotspots here it's just amazing. Admittedly most places are such that you might have to buy a coffee, but at least you get a coffee...

  2. Hi, Bob and Susan! You are about 4 days ahead of us. We just got to West Yellowstone today. Maybe, we'll run into each other.-Peri

    1. Hi Peri & Jim,
      We are at Fishing Bridge RV Park until Aug. 16, Site E-201. We will hike Mt. Washburn trail tomorrow morning. Stop by our site if you get a chance and leave a note where you are. We are not on internet very often here.



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