from the Yellowstone, skirting along the cañon of the former stream. The ground for that distance rises very rapidly, and is much broken by creek beds running parallel with the river. Following the highest ridges we presently come to a point from whence could be overlooked the Grand Cañon, cleaving the slopes and breaking through the lofty mountain ranges directly in front. Its perpendicular sides, wherever visible, of the yellow sulphuric tint above described, and its crest on either side of the river, mantled with heavy timber, extending beyond in an unbroken forest as far as the eye could reach. This, the upper cañon of the Yellowstone, is about twenty miles in length, reaching to the foot of the Great Falls, is impassable throughout its whole extent, and only accessible to the water's edge at a few points and by dint of sever labor. Through the mountain gap formed by the cañon, and on the interior slopes some twenty miles distant, an object now appeared, which drew a simultaneous expression of wonder from every one in the party. A column of steam, rising from the dense woods to the height of several hundred feet, became distinctly visible. We had all heard fabulous stories of this region, and were somewhat skeptical of appearances. At first it was pronounced a fire in the woods, but presently some one noticed that the vapor rose in regular puffs, as if expelled with a great force. Then conviction was forced upon us. It was, indeed, a great column of steam, puffing away on the lofty mountain side, escaping with a roaring sound audible at a long distance, even through the heavy forest. A hearty cheer rang out at this discovery, and pressed onward with renewed enthusiasm. Following the ridge leading to the peak nearest the cañon, and the highest of the range, we were soon at its base; then making a detour to the right, crossing several ugly ravines and through a gap in the ridge, we passed over the Elephant's Back and entered the great basin of the Yellowstone Lake.  Observations were taken from the summit of the peak which we named Mount Washburn. Noon, barometer 20.80; thermometer, 50; elevation, 9,966 feet.

The view from the summit is beyond all adequate description. Looking northward from the base of the mountain the great plateau stretches away to the front and left with its innumerable groves and sparkling waters, a variegated landscape of surpassing beauty, bounded on its extreme verge by the cañons of the Yellowstone. The pure atmosphere of this lofty region causes every outline of tree, rock or lakelet to be visible with wonderful distinctness, and objects twenty miles away appear as if very near at hand. Still further to the left the snowy ranges on the headwaters of Gardiner's river stretch away to the westward, joining those on the head of the Gallatin, and forming, with the Elephant's Back, a continuous chain, bending constantly to the south, the rim of the Yellowstone Basin. On the verge of the horizon appear, like mole hills in the distance, and far below, the white summits above the Gallatin Valley. These never thaw during the summer months, though several thousand feet lower than where we now stand upon the bare granite and no snow visible near, save n the depths of shaded ravines. Beyond the plateau to the right front is the deep valley of the East Fork bearing away eastward, and still beyond, ragged volcanic peaks, heaped in inextricable confusion, as far as the limit of vision extends. On the east, close beneath our feet, yawns the immense gulf of the Grand Cañon, cutting away the bases of two mountains in forcing a passage through the range. Its yellow walls divide the landscape nearly in a straight line to the junction of Warm Spring Creek below. The ragged edges of the chasm are from two hundred to five hundred yards apart, its depth so profound that the river bed is no where visible. No sound Go to next page

Go back to Yellowstone Historical Almanac
Go back to Yellowstone History Guide
Go back to The Magic of Yellowstone front page
Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10
Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20
Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30
Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40