09/1998 - United States of America – 1st part – from Denver to Yellowstone

20-day trip to the USA (United States of America) with an itinerary that included a visit to Denver , Cheyenne, Hot Springs, Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota, Custer State Park , Rapid City, Mount Rushmore National Park , Crazy Horse Memorial , Keystone, Badlands National Park, Spearfish, Lead, Deadwood, Devils Tower National Monument , Billings, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park , Jackson, Bear Lake, Salt Lake City , Bryce National Park Canyon, Indian village of Anasasi, Capitol Reef National Park , Lake Powell, Natural Bridges National Park , Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Archs National Park, Mesa Verde , Durango , Silverstron , Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado Springs, Royal Gorge Bridge

Denver is a modern city , as well as modern is the complex of the Colorado State Capitol Building.

We went for a walk in the pedestrian district with nice shops and we met the … October Fest, thanks to the town twinning between Denver and Munich, Bavaria.

We began our long American drive passing by the city of Cheyenne, capital of the State of Wyoming, and then continued towards Hot Springs , South Dakota .

In the Wind Cave National Park we went down to visit a small part of the world’s largest complex of caves, famous for its limestone formations known as “boxworks” .

We crossed the Custer State Park that fascinated us with its beautiful landscapes, huge prairies, hills with a big variety of green shades. And then the animals: first of all, the American bison, solitary or in herds, prairie dogs , mule deer and pronghorns.

We were in the heart of the Black Hills famous for their natural resources and, despite their name , for the green pastures and beautiful forests .

The Black Hills are divided into two areas: “The Southern Hills” and “The Northern Hills”. We took three days to visit them.

We started visiting the National Park of Mount Rushmore where the mountain was carved with the heads of four American presidents : Washington, Jefferson , Lincoln and Roosevelt .

Then we went to visit the nearby under construction Crazy Horse Memorial.

It is a monument that Indians want to dedicate to their Sioux leader “Crazy Horse” .

The works are slow because they are financed exclusively by free offers.

The northern part of the Black Hills includes the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway , a beautiful road surrounded by a thick forest , which runs along  the bottom of a gorge and has a raging torrent on its side.

We reached Lead and visited the largest American gold mine still in activity.

Finally, we saw at ” first hand ” one of the historical places of that land: the town of Deadwood . In the “Boot Hill ” is located the Memorial Cemetery where the famous Calamity Jane was buried. This was our first destination.

The town of Deadwood was rebuilt in western-style (they have even laid the electrical wires of public lighting underground). We could not miss a stop at “No. 10 Saloon”, famous for the story that involves Calamity Jane and her acquaintances.

One hundred kilometers eastward of Rapid City, we reached the Badlands National Park that the Indians called Maco Sica, that means “bad land” because of its inhospitable territory , which , however, is characterized by beautiful colours. We left Rapid City and South Dakota to enter the Wyoming state .

We made a detour to visit the Devils Tower National Monument. It was a spectacular sight. It is incredible what nature can do! That spectral monolith stands alone, surrounded by pine forests and vast plains .

At Little Bighorn we were fascinated by those arid hills dotted with white memorial markers to indicate the places where soldiers and officers of the 7th Cavalry Regiment , General George Armstrong Custer included, were killed by the Indians.

We crossed the roads made ​​famous by a “certain” Buffalo Bill and then we took the upward slope that brought us, in the midst of heaps of snow, a strong wind and breathtaking views, to the 3.352 meters of Sylvan Pass .

We entered the Yellowstone National Park from the Silver Gate, the north-east entrance.

We drove along the Lamar Valley embellished by exceptional sights until we reached the area of the Tower Waterfall and of the petrified tree which is quite peculiar because has maintained a vertical position.

We crossed the Mammoth Hot Springs, a place where the mineral-rich water solidify and take pastel colours.

We witnessed a fight between two stags for their supremacy in the herd and we saw, in the distance, a white long-necked mountain goat.

We crossed the Norris Geyser Basin and met deer, buffalo and two female deer .

We ended the day with a beautiful sunset on the Madison River .

The next day we went towards the main attraction of the park, the “Old Faithful”, the geyser that erupts every 70 minutes.

We crossed the Geyser Basin and it seemed to enter ……. Hell.

Low clouds mixed with the fumes that rose from the ground while herds of buffalo appeared. We were surrounded by geysers , fumaroles , gushing water from all sides, while the earth was smoking all around.

We were amazed , astonished , astounded , perhaps even frightened by all that surrounded us and was boiling around and under our feet.

In the area of the lake, we saw the “Mud Volcano” , a puddle of gray mud which was bubbling noisily at a temperature of 80 °, then the “Sulfur Cauldron”, another pool of sulphurous bubbling water which was emitting a nauseating stench .

We arrived at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Park, 370-meter deep , with two waterfalls : the Upper Yellowstone Falls and the Lower ones which are twice as high as Niagara Falls.

We did not miss the best vantage-points such as the Artist Point and Inspiration Point .

We went on wandering in the park and found fascinating corners everywhere, such as: the Norris Geyser Basin, the Esmeralda Pool and the Morning Glory Pool .

We went back to Mammoth Hot Springs in a sunny day and visited the Lower Terrace Area , Minerva Terrace and Canary Spring.

We visited the Biscuit Basin, the Lower Basin and the West Thumb  Basin, on the shore of the Yellowstone lake (it is the second highest lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in Peru) and saw fuming pools with boiling mud with intense colours. The nearby woods are dried by the sulphurous vapors that are present in the soil.

Finally, not far from the lake shore, we stopped to admire a small crater which was spurting sulphurous mud.