Saturday, September 17
I pinched my nose and went back into West Yellowstone for our packing-up-coffee. I was done first and after the morning’s organization, we went toward the park. A short traffic line at the gate was quickly passed and I presented the Golden Ticket to the ranger at the checkpoint who waved us by.
We went down a forest road closely resembling the one leading to our prior campsite, with a key distinction being that there was a lot more traffic. Yellowstone gets a lot of traffic. For many visitors, it’s essentially a drive-thru park and our experience would not be so different. We stopped at a turnout and walked up to one of its famous hot springs. Sulfury steam rose from the water and its Technicolor mineral deposits along the shore captivated the eye. Visitors are led to this particular spring by a boardwalk, which is decorated with signs bluntly warning us not to leave the path or risk death.
As I left the springs, I saw a buffalo sitting in front of the tree line some distance away. Visitors along the boardwalk were snapping photos of it and I added my own camera to the volley. I was amused to hear a couple speculating on whether or not the buffalo was stuffed until it turned its head to settle the question; “Maybe it’s animatronic!”