Our 4th and final day inside the park was to be much busier than I anticipated. My original intent was for us to drive to our northern destination and cover the northern loop then venture south after 2 days and cover the southern loop. I’d driven Yellowstone 11 years ago but really thought that 4 days in the park would be plenty. But I’m greedy and this possibly being a once-in-a-liftime experience for the family, I scheduled an ambitious journey and am grateful that everyone was still ambulatory by the time it was over.
We waved good-bye to Lake Yellowstone (okay, I was tired so there might have been a single finger salute somewhere but not where anyone could really see it).
As we headed south, we came across a momma and baby elk walking along the side of the road! Unfortunately, only one good shot exists, as I was driving and needed MORE COFFEE! That means I basically rolled down the electronic windows, yelled “Take a picture!” and then took off too fast! I’m judging that based on the results from three cameras documenting this part of our excursion.
We stopped at Old Faithful for gas then I began the cat-herding because everybody was oh-ing and ah-ing and wanted to dink around in the stores when we had cool shit to see elsewhere!
We started north west at Kepler Cascades and worked our way back to Old Faithful.
Gibbon Falls was next – where there ARE NO GIBBONS! I’ve read that there’s been some confusion with that…
Next, we drove Firehole Canyon Drive. The one way road offers lots of great places to pull over and take pictures. Travis got adventurous and blazed down a super-steep hill so that…well, I’m not sure why other than to just do it.
Firehole Canyon Drive is also one of the few places you can swim in Yellowstone. While we were there, there were several people enjoying the area, some divers and some kids jumping illegally from the lava rock outreaches.
I promised the kid I wouldn’t tell the park rangers but I didn’t say I wouldn’t post it on my blog. What?!
We jumped back onto the southern loop and stopped for a long walk around the Fountain Paint Pot located in the Lower Geyser Basin. The area was the first we’d seen with so many geysers. The landscape had a couple very pretty “pots” but the steam and the sizzling really lets you know that you are standing over some significant molten earth.
The boardwalk wound around until we got to multiple geysers. I will post the video below but warn you to turn down your speakers as it was extremely windy and distorted the sound. I would have left it out but THREE GEYSERS!!! I had to post it!
If you watch the video below, you’ll see Jelly Geyser, Spasm Geyser and Clepsydra Geyser lined up front to back.
When we got back to the car, Mom had had enough walking. It was lunch time but we had one last stop. We could see the Midway Geyser Basin as we approached. It was a chilly day and the steam was coming off the hot water as it poured over the hills along the road.
Travis and I decided to try to make it quick so Mom wasn’t sitting for too long. I should have taken a photo of the squirrel in the tree next to the boardwalk who was randomly hurling nuts at tourists. Not the first time I’ve seen that in a National Park. Territorial buggers, though I don’t blame him with record numbers in the parks this year!
The Midway Geyser basin is where the Grand Prismatic Spring is located. The boardwalk is a long walk but SO WORTH IT. On that particular day, the chill made it difficult to see because of all the steam.
Where the steam rises up, you can see how the orange gives way to yellow then becomes blue!
Just past the Grand Prismatic is the Turquoise Pool.
TIP: The next bit you don’t have to take my word for as the Ranger Station provide valuable, entertaining and informative shows, dioramas, graphics and have staff available for whatever absurd question you may come up with. Most are open a tad late but it’s nice if you don’t want to go to bed super early and there are no tv’s (though you’ll hear rumors about tv smuggling and staff did bring one in during 9/11).
And now, for a bit of science.
Just so you know: “If another large caldera-forming eruption were to occur at Yellowstone, its effects would be worldwide. Thick ash deposits would bury vast areas of the United States, and injection of huge volumes of volcanic gases into the atmosphere could drastically affect global climate. Fortunately, the Yellowstone volcanic system shows no signs that it is headed toward such an eruption. The probability of a large caldera-forming eruption within the next few thousand years is exceedingly low.” From yellowstone.net
But from freedompreppers.com (that had a great graphic – I SWEAR THAT’S THE ONLY REASON I was on their site)
We had chocolate for lunch because that’s what you do when you’re sight-seeing and think that world heritage sites are more important than real lunch.
Back into “civilization”, we caught the Old Faithful Inn Lodge tour – free and awesome. The tour begins in the lobby and they take you into one of the rooms, much like the Lake Hotel tour. I would have gotten more pictures but we were evacuated FOR A FIRE. Very exciting!
After the mild drama, we took a couple more shots then headed to the Ranger Station next to Old Faithful to find out what time it was expected to go off. There’s leeway in times so expect to be hanging out for a little bit. Not a big deal as there are benches covering about a third of the radius around the geyser!
Next, we watched THE geyser blow, then we ventured over to the Old Faithful Lodge for a look around and some time by the fireplace (as became a tradition at each lodge). The Old Faithful area offers a gas station, general store, bars, ice cream, Xanterra owned store, Ranger Station, Inn, Lodge and Snow Lodge!!! And look for stuff in between.
I’d made reservations a few months in advance. I believe you have to wait until you’re 3 months out. I’d planned for early dining and had for most of the trip because as east-coasters, 5:30p.m. was really 8:30p.m.! I got the buffet, a hefty price but SO WORTH IT! Prime rib and apple crisp! Both Travis and Mom had dinner envy!
TIP: If you are taller than me (and I’m sure you are) watch your head on the outskirts of the restaurant. Low lighting nails people all the time, including our waiter, who warned us about it and then hit it.
Mom was exhausted so we wandered around on our own a bit.
Our last adventure for the evening was let staff know that a raven had gotten into the garbage outside of one of the restaurants. We didn’t want her to get sick. We then headed to the Snow Lodge, sat by the fire and shared a Huckleberry soda.
In the morning, we went to the post office to send post cards out. Yes, it’s a real post office!
We stopped and took a couple of shots on the way out of the park but spent the rest of our afternoon back in Jackson Hole.
I took a shot of the sign at the lake on the way out. VERY STRICT guidelines for putting in a boat! And you can tell by the sign that the attendant is over answering the same questions.
I can’t imagine not going back. Though it was my second visit to Yellowstone, I feel as if there was so much more we could have done and seen. I would love to spend more time in the Grand Tetons as well. I spent maybe 3 weeks afterward trying to think of a way for us to open a business in Jackson that wouldn’t leave us snowbound for the winter. Alas, we are still here in Florida – but we’re working on it!!! Beautiful country well worth it’s title as a World Heritage Site.