Ryan Jordan

Tower Creek, Yellowstone National Park (Sigma DP1)


Tower Creek, Yellowstone National Park

Sigma DP1, ISO 100, f/11, 1/8 sec.

Thomas Moran’s less famous painting of Tower Creek shows a wispy blue stripe meandering its way through yellow stone cliffs, which is sort of how it looks in the creek’s higher reaches.

But if you trek down the creek, which is neither a meander nor particularly safe, Tower Creek becomes a rumbling bumbling bouldered brook that can sweep you during the high water season right over the brink of the 132-foot Tower Fall.

I like the color of the creek water in Yellowstone soon after snowmelt peaks and just before the water clears completely, because creekside vegetation is rich in color, and the creek water still has enough silt to reflect magnificent hues of green in it, like the photo above, which was taken early in the morning before direct sunlight ruins the view. I used a tripod of course, and a low perspective, which required me to stand right in the middle of the crashing rapids, hanging on for dear life, because Tower Fall was below me.

Cold temperatures and cold water meant that I could get into the car and turn the heater on and warm up, and lightweight hiking pants dried fast so I wasn’t too uncomfortable for a day of packrafting and hiking. By the end of the day, I was a long ways away from the ice cream shoppe at Tower Junction, dozing under a tarp in SE Yellowstone, 15 miles from the boat dock and 9 days away from my final destination near Jackson Hole.

I love Yellowstone because there are plenty of photographic views never seen by a million tourists every year because they don’t have waders. I love Yellowstone because there are remote camps visited by an infinitesimally small proportion of those millions.

I love Yellowstone because I’ve learned to escape the masses with a little bit, or a lot of bits, of effort, as needed.

I love Yellowstone because it’s really big, and still really wild.