I drove away from Old Faithful and started up the east side of Yellowstone to travel along the edge of Yellowstone Lake...
with its 141 miles of shoreline. There were boaters, fishermen, families swimming and picnicking all along the way but nowhere was it crowded.
At the top of Craig's Pass I found the Continental Divide...
The peak of the continent and the upper watershed for two of the nation's most extensive drainage systems: The Snake and Columbia Rivers to the west and the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers to the east.
And a pond full of water lilies! Somehow I did not expect to find water lilies.
The park has over 10,000 thermal features with an abundance of wildlife who know how to appreciate the warm earth and waters. Note the buffalo lounging around the thermal fumeroles above. The park is their very own personal spa.
Evidence of people occupying the park dates back as far as 8500 years. I can imagine the park was an ideal place to survive during the fiercely cold winters. Plenty of food and a place to get a warm bath.
Unlike the first time I visited Yellowstone many years ago, I did not see a bear anywhere. (Sister Mary will be relieved) The bears at that time would rush on to the road, stop traffic and beg for food. Sometimes they did not like the offerings and would take a bite out of a fat, succulent tourist. Feeding wildlife is now forbidden so the bears mostly keep to themselves...unlike the buffalo.
The buffalo seem to enjoy causing traffic jams while they leisurely stroll back and forth across the road, stopping occasionally to pose for pictures.
They are totally unafraid of the gawkers but there is little doubt....
they don't invite petting.
There are more than 275 known waterfalls in Yellowstone and a good many of them are very easy to reach and photograph. There are also over 1000 miles of trails that will lead to more.