Layover at Canyon Lodge - The Yellowstone Ride - CycleBlaze

June 17, 1995

Layover at Canyon Lodge

For a rest day, I burned up a lot of calories.  After a mediocre breakfast at the lodge I biked south along the Yellowstone through Hayden Valley for as far as Yellowstone Lake and then returned.  I was hoping, in addition to seeing more of the park, to see additional wildlife.  This is an especially lovely section of the park, with the road closely following the river the whole way.  Traffic was somewhat heavier here than I've encountered elsewhere in the park,  and for most of the way there was little or no shoulder.  Even so, it felt safe and quiet enough to be enjoyable.  None of the traffic moves fast, and most of the drivers are considerate and careful.

The route gets highest marks for the wildlife.  The northern part of Hayden Valley featured a herd of about 200 bison, including quite a few calves gamboling about beside their stodgier elders.  While not exactly teeming with birdlife, the river held enough waterfowl to command attention throughout.  I spotted at least pelicans, mergansers, mallards, goldeneyes, Canada geese, osprey, cinnamon teals, buffleheads, and scoters.

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In addition to bison, the day two traffic-stopping sites.  At the first, three huge elk just off the road brought traffic to a complete stop, with about thirty cars backed up in both directions.  One car after another would pull abreast of the elk and come to a complete stop while the driver pulled out a camera.  Best of all though was a doe moose grazing unconcernedly on the opposite bank of the river, close and exposed enough to be easily viewable for at least a half hour. 

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The ride would have been great but for two definite drawbacks.  First, it was overcast and very cold until late afternoon.  I'm convinced that it didn't rise above 40 all day.   Worst though was that I lost my binoculars.  I left them on the bank of the Yellowstone while moose-watching; and when I returned to look for them fifteen minutes later, they were gone.  I'm convinced that they were swept up by some other moose watcher.

After returning to Canyon, I took another six mile hike, this time along the south rim.  The view from the south is if anything even more spectacular than from the north.  Again I was lucky with the weather as the sun broke out for the only time all day.  It was really a wonderful hike.  By the end though, my legs were growing weary.  

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I'm quite apprehensive about tomorrow's plan, which climbs the shoulder of Mount Washburn, topping out at 8,800' Dunraven Pass - the highest point in the park.   From the map, it looks like I'll be climbing 1,100' in about five miles to start the day tomorrow.  Ouch!

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