Yellowstone’s Grand

General Thoughts
Lakeshore Geyser — West Thumb © jj raia

Lakeshore Geyser — West Thumb © jj raia

Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake above 7000 feet in all of North America, covering 136 square miles and measuring almost 20 miles in length. Every time I passed by the lake, it was either raining or snowing and so I never did see just how large it was, never getting past the gloom around the shoreline of the West Thumb area. The one time I did photograph there it was snowing, so the long distant views I had hoped for just weren’t there. I did hope for that to be a sunrise location, but the weather never cooperated, so I had to adjust to the conditions, using the umbrella holder on my tripod for protection to photograph a few features in there. The lake’s outflow forms the Yellowstone River which travels 671 miles and is a tributary of the Missouri River, but while still within the park, flows through the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone dropping 308 feet at the Lower Falls.

Lower Falls — Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone © jj raia

Lower Falls — Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone © jj raia

Although the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is impressive, and every bit the icon one would expect (with the associated crowds), my hopes were to come away with a few detail abstracts of the steep canyon walls; one of the two images I remember from my 1978 trip there. Just as with the thermophiles in other parts of the park, by isolating small areas, in this case with a telephoto lens, the beauty of the erosional effects on the canyon become readily apparent. Many of my attempts were failures because of the flat lighting caused by the overcast, but the times when it appeared, the details became much more alive, similar to my recollections.

Detail — Yellowstone Canyon © jj raia

Detail — Yellowstone Canyon © jj raia

Sometimes the main focus was on the erosional designs of the softer sediments of the canyon wall, while others showed more of the rock and the struggles the trees have to overcome in order to survive.

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Detail — Yellowstone Canyon © jj raia

It was fortunate that when the sun did peek from behind the clouds, it raked across the opposite canyon wall sometimes highlighting the evergreens clinging to the rock face.

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Bonsai Pine — Yellowstone Canyon © jj raia

Detail — Yellowstone Canyon © jj raia

Detail — Yellowstone Canyon © jj raia

In any event, the same method utilized at the Grand Prismatic Spring of zoning out the crowds and pretending to be alone kept me sane while the circus around me unfolded. I stayed for quite some time, visiting a few different overlooks, all the time hoping that the sunlight would come out for good, but I had to be content with the peek-a-boo sky most of the afternoon.

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Detail (face)— Yellowstone Canyon © jj raia

 

 

 

 

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