American Northwest

Avalanche lake in Glacier National Park, Montana.

Butte, Montana, an old mining town that experienced a boom in the early 1900s. The downtown is full of hundreds of beautiful historic stone buildings. It is also strangely empty, with many of the old buildings now derelict. Only 34,000 people live here today but it feels much larger. Very cool place.

Earthquake Lake, a stop on the way to Yellowstone.

Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone. These terraces are actually a collection of billions of living bacteria. Not only that, but there are many different species of bacteria living here which create these elaborate structures. The bacteria feed on the water and sulfuric gases that bubble up from the ground.

A river near Tower Falls.

While at one point in the early 1900s there were only a few dozen buffalo left in America, Yellowstone is now home to thousands. Also returned from the brink of extinction are wolves, which were reintroduced into the park 20 years ago. Lamar Valley, pictured here, is a hotspot for these animals. Millions of buffalo once roamed North America, so this place gives a rare glimpse into what the continent looked like before the Europeans arrived.

These animals are huge. This picture was taken from a car.

The animals in Yellowstone are very tame, which I suspect is because they get fed a lot. This buck just stared me down and refused to get off the path. I ended up having to go around him.

Slough Creek. This creek is crystal clear, and you can see fish swimming while walking along the bank.

Yellowstone is actually a massive volcano, which is why there is so much geothermal activity. There are thousands of geyser basins scattered throughout the park which perpetually spew out sulfuric gases and steam. Stupid tourists have actually died by trying to swim in these things. I guess the boiling water wasn't enough of a warning sign.

The brilliant colors here are actually mats of bacteria. The different temperature gradients here are occupied by different species, which explains the difference in color.

The most famous of them all, Old Faithful, is spectacular. It goes off every 90 minutes and shoots water 50 meters in the air.

The view from Mount Washburn.

A firetower sits at the peak.

Fishing Bridge, a famous fishing spot. Here I saw a family of river otters hunting fish. I also spotted many shorebirds and two bald eagles. Excellent place for wildlife-watching.

Grand Teton National Park, to the south of Yellowstone.

Jackson, Wyoming, a tourist town similar to Banff.

An arch made of elk antlers.

A canyon along the road in Idaho.

Craters of the Moon National Monument. This place is an ancient lava field stretching across 50 square kilometers of Idaho. The landscape is unlike anything I have seen before.

The view from the top of a volcano.

Snow on the inside of a spatter cone, a type of mini-volcano. The average daily temperature here is around 35 degrees this time of year.

The caldera of another volcano.

The center of this valley is a river of lava.

Bright green lichen growing on the volcanic rock.

Little can grow in such a desolate landscape.

At one point there were rivers of magma moving under the upper crust. This created complex networks of tunnels, some of which you can explore today. Person for scale.

The Shoshone people knew about this place as were. These stone circles were left in front of the largest of the caves hundreds of years ago. Some suspect these circles had some sort of ceremonial significance, but nobody knows for sure.

Me walking barefoot on some sand dunes in Eastern Idaho.

Madison Buffalo Jump in Montana, one of the buffalo jumps used by Plains Indians.

A tipi circle left long ago by one of the tribes.

Lewis and Clarke Caverns State park. This park has a massive underground system of caverns, much of which can be seen by guided tour. This cave system is a truly alien world.

The view from the exit of the caverns.

Cathedral of St. Helena, in Helena, Montana. Helena is the capital city of Montana and was once home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the world. Which explains the lavish architecture that covers the historic downtown.

Nightlife in Helena. Pretty happening place for a city of only 30,000

The last stop on this adventure was Writing-On-Stone Provicial Park in southern Alberta near the Montana border. The draws of this place are the hoodoos as well as the large concentration of petroglyphs left by the Plains people. Unfortunately, most of the petroglyphs are hard to see and the place has been covered by modern graffiti. Much of the park is restricted to public access, which is probably for the best.