|I don’t know what in the world I was thinking when I planned this trip because Glacier to Yellowstone is too far to drive an RV in one days and only a little bit on an interstate. It’s not so much the distance (310 miles) as the time but I was so excited to finally reach the park.
The mileage sign said it was 56 miles to my campground but who knew that would take around 2 hours if I didn’t stop anywhere, a near impossibility in this scenic wonder. My first stop was to take a picture of this river which I mistakenly thought was the Yellowstone
but it’s actually the Madison. Next I had to examine these geyser things for myself! It was pouring by this time but who wants to set up camp in the rain anyway.
Seeing steam rise up out of bare rock and pools of mud bubble and spit like a pot of soup on the stove is unbelievable!
It is easily one of the top 10 coolest things I’ve ever seen in my whole life – and don’t ask me to name the other nine! I decided I should get going. After all I had 3 full days to explore this vast park. A while later I got my first glimpse of Yellowstone lake.
and eventually reached Fishing Bridge
where my campground is located.
I’m glad I chose to stay inside the park even though the campground was far too crowded and lacking in lots of amenities. It still beat a 2 hour drive to West Yellowstone every day, the nearest town to the park. There was a store, a gas station, a car and RV repair center, visitor center and amphitheater right across the street and ranger programs were held nightly as well as several times throughout the day. Two I attended were on bears in Yellowstone and the history of park rangers. After checking in and hooking up, I settled down with my map and my guide book to plan out my visit. Three days is longer than the average visit to this park, (according to the rangers, it is only 1 day!) but I knew it was only enough to hit some of the highlights. I chose to concentrate on 3 areas – Old Faithful and West Thumb Basin, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Upper and Lower Falls, and the Lake area.
The next morning I was up and ready to go bright and early. My first stop was the West Thumb area, so named because it is a section of the lake that looks like a thumb. Here the geysers and other hot water run right down into the cool lake.
One of the most famous features are these cones.
Many years ago people would actually catch a fish in the lake and then dip it into one of these cones to cook it. There are photos of this in the lobby of the park’s oldest hotel, Lake Hotel which is, of course, located ON the lake. I’ll show photos of the hotel later, when I tell you about my scenic cruise.
On the drive to this area there was my first “animal jam”. Cars stopped and pulled to the side of the road and NOT in parking areas or pullouts and people out of them with cameras home – all big NO NO’s. I snapped one as I drove slowly by and I was excited because I thought I had seen my very first moose. Later I learned it was really a bull elk. At West Thumb, I saw this coyote eating
Leaving there to head to Old Faithful, there was another animal jam and this time it was a whole group of female elk.
PIC019 I made one stop at this high point and Eddie is quite thrilled as you can see.
I arrived at what is probably the most famous geyser in the world, Old Faithful and parked in the lot. It is a major area of the park with 2 lodges, numerous restaurants and stores along with a modern visitor center where I headed first. At the main information desk they have a large board with the predicted times of eruptions of several geysers that are tracked by park employees. There were just a few minutes until the next prediction for Old Faithful so I headed right outside to get a good vantage point. More and more people began to gather and the geyser spurted just a little bit, getting the crowd excited, then settled back down. Some people lined up along the boardwalk decided to start a “wave” to encourage her.
I heard a few people around me fussing because it was a few minutes past the predicted time. I laughed at their naivety. Maybe we are all too spoiled by Disney etc. After all, nature is on its own schedule. Soon enough we were all rewarded with the big show
and it was truly awe- inspiring. Afterwards, I went back inside the visitor center to stamp my passport and watch the movie. Then I walked out on the boardwalk again to see a little more. This sign warns visitors of some of the dangers
. This geyser is huge but doesn’t erupt very often.
. Probably the most famous hotel in the park is this one, Old Faithful Inn. I actually have a puzzle of it and it’s uncanny how accurate the puzzle is, down to the yellow tour buses.
Tired, but satisfied, I made my way back to the campground to relax.
The second day was devoted to the canyon and falls area. There are two scenic drives in the area, called the south rim and north rim drives, but the south was closed for construction when I went by the first time. So my first stop was at an area called Crystal Falls where I walked a bit and took lots of photos like this one.
On my way to this area I had to drive through Hayden Valley which the bison love. It is their mating season so you can hear them grunting and growling. This shows one "buffalo jam" where they actually wander onto the road and block traffic.
I spent some time at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I've never been to the one in Arizona but this one is surely gorgeous.
You can see where they got the name for the river, lake and park,from this light colored stone . Next I headed to another geyser area, called Norris Basin, where I enjoyed this guy called Echinus. It hasn't had a major eruption in many years but does have these minor ones on a regular daily basis.
After a wonderful day of hiking and natural beauty I headed back to the campsite again. I stopped at a small picnic area where a family were swimming. Ed decided he wanted to take a dip also.
My third full day I focused on the lake area. A group of young people were doing some kind of service project by painting the railing on the bridge.
I drove the short distance to the marina to board a boat for a scenic cruise, narrated by a park ranger. Here's a view of the lake from the boat, with a closer look at the Absaroka mountains on the far side.
A couple of interesting facts about this lake: it is the largest high elevation lake(above 7000 feet) in North America, it has 141 miles of shoreline and is more than 400 feet deep. Recently, scientists have been using submersible robots to explore its underwater thermal features which are far more extensive than previously known. Yellowstone National Park is not only our country's oldest, it is also the first one in the world. Because the entire area of more than 2 million acres has been protected since 1871 this lake is completely wild and natural. There are only a few small sections that have been developed, all within the borders of the National Park. No condos, no high rises, no jet skis. This hotel, named aptly enough, Lake Hotel, is the oldest one in the park.
Many kinds of wildlife live here, and many other species feed on the fish, birds and small mammals that inhabit it. These white pelicans migrate south in the winter but have huge nests on an undisturbed island.
While at the marina I also took a hike which led to this natural bridge.
and took this shot of the marina from the trail
My last night in the park I went to another ranger talk, this one on the history of rangers. On my way the next day I stopped at another area I hadn't been able to find a parking spot the other day, called Biscuit Basin. This is called Sapphire Pool. Wouldn't you love to have some jewelry this color?
I love this shot where the steaming geysers run into the cool sparkling river.
This geyser was the deepest one I saw and is called Excelsior
It doesn't erupt often but it stays steamy like this most of the time. I found it fascinating how various kinds of life can thrive right on the edge of these chemical filled ponds like this wildflower.
This large pool, with its rainbow of colors, runs into the Excelsior Geyser. It is named the Grand Prismatic Spring and the colors come from special heat resistant strains of bacteria that live in it.
This park is an amazing place, with more wonders than can be seen in a few days. Everywhere I went there were huge crowds of people which, for me, detracted from my enjoyment. I hope to come back some day, maybe at a less busy time and maybe with a car so I can explore a few more parts.Visitors travel from all around the world to see its wonders and I lost count of how many languages I heard. Over 2/3 of the thermal features on the entire planet are located here and they made the early explorers realize that this place needed to be protected and kept available for everyone to enjoy and study. Because of this determination, many nations followed suit and developed their own national parks, as well as the other 57 parks in the USA.