14 Aug 65 : Dodging bears and singalongs : Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Tony and Colin are now on the road, travelling in their split screen VW campervan.

This continues the letter dated 9 August 1965, which began:

Dear family,

Saturday 14th August

We entered the Grand Teton National Park yesterday and had an unbelievable view of the Grand Teton Mountains across a large clear lake.

The scenery here is out of this world, and cannot be adequately described. We bought a $7 annual ticket which now enables us to enter any national park free – and also to camp there.

These national parks are wonderful places. They are vast areas of countryside of exceptional beauty and are kept in their natural state almost as exactly as possible. Nothing is interfered with. Everything is allowed to grow and die just as nature intended. The result is a natural and unspoilt area of great beauty.

We drove straight through the Grand Teton Park as we shall be visiting this on our return journey, and went straight through and into Yellowstone National Park, which surely must be one of the most beautiful places in the whole world. It consists of 3,800 square miles of sheer paradise.

We entered at the South entrance and went around the loop road (about 200 miles) in an anticlockwise direction and came to the Lower Geyser Basin. This is a very strange and creepy area where hot springs bubble up out of the ground and hot mud ‘plops’ away.

Lower Geyser Basin By Miguel Hermoso Cuesta  91.jpg
Lower Geyser Basin. Photo by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta  httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=36601691


Lower Geyser Basin. Photo by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36601720



Lower Geyser Basin. Photo by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta  https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36601690


There are huge areas of boiling streams, and plopping and gurgling holes. It’s very eerie. Also the whole area is riddled with geysers, which suddenly shoot hundreds of feet into the air for a few minutes, and then fall quiet again.

Some are very spasmodic and only go every few months – but some are frequent, and the most famous of these is ‘Old Faithful’ which has gone off as regularly as clockwork every 65 minutes for the last 88 years.

We saw this twice, once last night illuminated, and once today – and very impressive it is too. It shoots nearly 200 feet into the air and lasts about 5 minutes.


img147 Old Faithful, Yellowstone National park Wyoming USA (1).jpg
Tony’s photo – Old Faithful erupts
img145 Yellowstone National Park Wyoming – boiling mud
Tony’s photo: Boiling mud at Yellowstone National Park


We spent ages walking around looking at them all. We were hoping to be able to see the ‘Grand Geyser’ go off, as this is supposed to be the most spectacular in the world, but it only goes 3 times in 24 hours, so we decided we couldn’t spend all that time waiting.

There are only three areas in the world like this, and one of the others is in New Zealand, so we shall be able to see two out of three of them – with luck.

After we had seen all of these at this particular place we set off North on the loop road and started to see bears. These are wild bears and can be very dangerous, but have become confident and come down onto the roads and beg for food – some came right up to our campervan and I was able to get a couple of really close up pictures of them. Some are quite young, but others are really huge!!


img146 Bear encounter – Yellowstone N P, Wyoming, USA (1)
Tony’s photo: Bear encounter, Yellowstone National Park.


We camped last night at one of the official campsites – which are excellent with terrific facilities. They provide firewood and fireplaces (barbecues) and excellent toilet facilities – this is all made from natural wood so as to blend in with the woods.

We had a bit of a scare last night. We went down to the Old Faithful Lodge, a huge log cabin where everyone meets in the evenings and we were among the last to leave, and we were strolling back to our van, and were passing through some log cabins, when we almost fell over a huge black bear which was searching through a dustbin.

I saw it just in time and swore rather violently – much to the amusement of a small group of people who were hiding in the shadows watching it. They were quite happy to let us walk into it, it seemed. I can assure you I beat a hasty retreat!!


Tony’s photo: Another bear encounter!


Today we picked up a couple of scouts who were hiking through the park, and took them to the north exit. They each had a ukulele and we had a great sing song on the way.

The weather is glorious during the day, but it was bitterly cold last night, due to the fact that we are almost 8,000 feet high – we even found it cold in our sleeping bags (and under a blanket).

At the lodges they have huge log fires at night and it’s very nice sitting around these listening to groups playing and singing folk music. Western wear is all the thing out here and everyone seems to have Stetsons and cowboy boots.

Today we met an Australian family and we asked them questions about their country, and we were assured that there is plenty of work available, especially fruit picking, so we should be OK there.

Well, I suppose I had better get this off to you or you will begin to wonder where I am. I’m afraid my letters won’t be so regular for a while. This is because it is so difficult to write when we are travelling (I am writing this in the lodge). But I shall be writing whenever I have a spare moment – very few!

I hope you had an enjoyable holiday in Cornwall, and have got over all the excitement of the last few weeks. I did enjoy my visit home I can assure you, and look forward to our next reunion – which will soon come around.

I didn’t send Nigel a card but I do hope he had a happy birthday.

Well cheerio for now. Look after yourselves.

All my love

Tone xxxx

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2 thoughts on “14 Aug 65 : Dodging bears and singalongs : Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

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