Finally. Thanks to a few warmer days, the snow pack is slowly melting away. The rivers are slowly responding to the drop in water flow. Our rocky beach has yet to appear but the willows are marching in that direction. The cool spring has made the salmon fly hatch later than usual (last report it was about 1/2 way up the Paradise Valley) and even the greens in the garden are making only a tiny appearance.
It's summer. Kinda.
One sure sign that we have reached that blessed summer season is that the Boiling River is open again. Situated between Gardiner and Mammoth, this section of the Gardner River is blessed with a large supply of hot springs water pouring out of its banks - making the river hot in some spots, warm in others and cool on the edges. Something for everybody. My favorite is the section where the current cools your feet while the hot water ripples on the surface - a study in the contrasts that characterize our mountain home.
Bring a towel (it's a quarter mile walk to the springs and a wet walk back) and a contemplative attitude. To me, sitting in the Boiling River evokes both memories and awe. It's a great place to meet people in the summer (the middle of the day can be crowded), a wonderful place to watch the elk rut in the fall and (my favorite) the quietest place in the whole park on a steamy winter morning.
A few tips:
1. This is a very special place. PLEASE treat it with respect. Obey all posted signs (they are for your safety as well as the safety of this place) and clean up after yourself when you leave.
2. Remember that it is NOT legal to soak in Yellowstone's hot springs anywhere in the park. The only other designated swimming area is in Firehole Canyon near Old Faithful; another river way that is blessed with warm water pouring into it.
3. The Boiling River is CLOSED at night. Alcohol and nudity are prohibited.