Yellowstone & the Tetons… The Full Moon

It’s quite the quandary I’m in, working as a park ranger in Yellowstone. On my days off I’ve got to decide whether to explore Yellowstone, or our southern neighbor, the Tetons. I know. This month there will be a blue moon, coming on the last day of July. For the first full moon of the month I decided to watch the moon rise over Castle Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin. It seemed full of drama. Near the eastern horizon, at about the time this photo was made, we heard a pack of coyotes howling beneath an apricot sky. My soul was enraptured with delight.

We were treated to another astrological phenomenon as the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus was occurring around the same time. Lion geyser would be the backdrop for the next image. Lion geyser is aptly named. It erupts in a series of three or four, the latter having more steam. When the steam first erupts from the vent it sounds much like a lion’s roar.

One of my favorite pools in all of Yellowstone is Doublet Pool because to fully appreciate it you’ve got to sit still and spend some time listening. The gases get trapped beneath it and can’t escape, so the pools alternately begin to pulsate. As the pool begins to pulsate and audible thump begins to sound and before long you can feel it through the boardwalk. It feels as other worldly as Jupiter and Venus might.

I needed rest, but how could I during the full moon? I awoke at 3am and was on the road by 3:30. Since I hadn’t scouted any locations in the Tetons I’d have to give myself enough time to figure out where to shoot the setting full moon. I initially settled upon Jackson Lake, the still waters giving the sense of peacefulness and serenity I was looking for. I won’t go into a diatribe at this point about how much I disdain Floyd Dominy and his penchant for establishing dams across the United States. What’s a dam doing in the Tetons anyway?

I left. I took to the road to see what other interesting scenes I might find, scenes left less altered by the hand of man.

Somehow I find myself excusing roads for their same intrusion. For many follow ancient footpaths.

I camped in the Tetons that night. I crawled into the tent early, exhausted. Yet I would awaken before the last stars faded from the sky to once again chase the setting moon. This time I found a spot where I could be content that it was close to a natural state unaltered. As I awaited the light in the grand scene laid before me I found treasure right beneath my feet, this time in the form of wild roses.

And soon, the summer sun.

I watched as the Tetons and Mount Moran became bathed in morning light, and exulted in it. The Snake River flowed steadily before it. I watched a bald eagle fly overhead, and an elk cross in the distance. A beaver frolicked in the foreground. It felt like the first morning in all of creation was being renewed.

For the rest of the morning I explored, looking for future scenes that I might photograph. There is so much out there before us, so much to still personally discover.

It’s wildflower season in Yellowstone and Tetons. I found a field late in the morning in the plains beneath the mountains. Solomon in all of his splendor was not arrayed like one of these.

It was evening, and morning, the second day…

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29 thoughts on “Yellowstone & the Tetons… The Full Moon

  1. Fantastic collection of photos. I’m drawn to the last two as mountain wildflowers always bring a smile to my face. Such a dilemma to be confronted with – Yellowstone or Tetons? May we all be so lucky 🙂

  2. Thanks you to share with us those exceptional landscapes unique in the world and so inspiring at night in full moon
    And the flore also is remarkable . Days can be needed to study it.
    In friendship
    Michel

  3. What a wonderful experience. I guess you feel very fortunate indeed (to work in such an amazing landscape).
    Your description makes me a little sad that many children do not have the opportunity to visit and feel the awe of such a phenomenon as geysers and wild places.

  4. What a wonderful post! I feel the joy and awe in your words…fabulous! I’m glad you spent a day with the Tetons…they are magnificent. I remember feeling those feelings as we passed through them, heading into Canada. Great angles with the wildflowers and Tetons! 😀

  5. I spent the last week on the northern edge of Yellowstone, ventured in a couple of times and caught just a glimpse of the glory that is the Park. There are beautiful pictures which emphasise how much I’ve yet to see. Next time.

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