Idaho Falls - Mesa Falls - Lake Yellowstone
Our first goal of the day was the St. Anthony Sand Dunes that appeared like a mirage before us but somehow we couldn't get to them. The road signs seemed to disappear and the dunes stayed the same distance from us no matter where we turned. Giving up on that idea, we drove up to the Mesa Falls. This is definitely worth leaving the main road for. On the way to the Upper Mesa Falls we saw our first coyote which ran towards us on the road.
The Upper Mesa Falls are very spectacular and can be easily viewed from the excellent walkways. The Overlook at the Lower Mesa Falls was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.
Just before Yellowstone National Park is West Yellowstone, a tourist centre consisting mainly of hotels but is also home to the Grizzly Center which we didn't visit. We wanted to see a bear in the wild, not in captivity.
Our first stop in Yellowstone National Park was the interpretive trail explaining the Forest Fires of 1988. Further on towards Madison, we saw our first wapiti and bison. Due to construction work on the road between West Thumb and Lake Village, we were stuck in a jam but could marvel at the beautiful blue lake and the fumaroles, blowing steam. Just before the sun went down, we managed to reach the Lake Butte Overlook. An incredible place to watch the dying colours of the sun.
We stayed the night in a cabin at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel. We had gone to bed quite late, having been fascinated by the stars. In Europe we hardly get to see soooooo many stars!