(Reminder: this post is being published well after our visit, we are currently in Portland Oregon until Sept 4th)
So finally made it to Yellowstone on July 10th. After our (very) early morning drive over Beartooth Pass we got to the east gate about 8 am. And within minutes we saw our first animals-Bear! Yes I know they are hard to see in the picture above but trust me, they were two bear cubs lazing in the tall grass just off the road. We kept waiting for Mama to show up but no luck. It was so exciting to see them relatively close up (wouldn’t have wanted to see them much closer!) and so quickly after entering the park. Both of us were so glad we had set the alarm for 6 am and actually ended up waking up before it and got on the road so early.
After the two cubs wandered further into the woods, we continued on our way and soon reached the valley where we saw Bison! These amazing animals also know as Buffalo graze throughout the park and we (and you) will see more throughout our visit to Yellowstone but as they say your first is always memorable!
I happened upon an App that used gps to tell you about the park. For $6 it was great, like having our own tour guide in the car. One of the spots it suggested we take a detour to see was the beautiful waterfall below.
We made a stop near the north gate to visit the National Park Service’s Visitor Center. Had trouble getting to our parking space due to the Elk! Once parked, I got out of the car to take a picture and one of the rangers suggested I get back in a the car, as sometimes these peaceful looking animals become less so. We loved watching the one enjoying its reflection in the window.
After our comfort stop at the Visitor’s Center, we headed to the Norris Geyser basin for our first look (and smell!) of Yellowstone’s famous Springs and geysers.
It was so wild to see the formations that they had made and to see the earth bubbling. If you want to do some reading this link will take you to an article about the various types and how they are formed. We saw more than enough during our two days and for those of you who know us, Mike doesn’t let me boil eggs due to his disgust over the smell so trust me when I tell you that he really didn’t like their smell!
It was interesting to see the colors around some of the springs. This isn’t from the deposits of the Springs. Rather, it is algae that has evolved to survive the high temperatures.
Further along the north loop drive, we saw another beautiful waterfall.
But soon it was time to see more hot springs.
From that geyser basin we then went to another, the “Paint Pots” which I remember my Grandmother taking about from her visit back in the late sixties. This area requires quite the hike, and in one of the videos below you can hear me breathing hard. It was really fun to see the kids waiting for the bubbles to burst and in some cases splash them with the hot mud.
We saved the most famous geyser for last. Old Faithful is so named because it erupts fairly on schedule. And because of this we got to watch and wait for it with just a few hundreds of our friends including the two interesting dressed and masked Asian ladies who squoze onto the bench with me.
Old Faithful looks like this most of the time…
and every so often it puts off more steam and everyone gets excited but then it dies down again….
Even the bison lounging nearby got bored and decided to get up and move on…
But finally your patience pays off and you get to see what all the excitement is about! Below the picture is a video of the full 4 minute eruption… if you want to experience it a little more what it was like!
After Old Faithful blew it’s top, we wandered into the lodge. It’s an amazing log building and has a great patio where one can watch Old Faithful from the comfort of shade and with a drink! Next time I plan on seeing it from up there!
After a slight meltdown (we had been up for over 13 hours and walked over 15,000 steps and nine floors according to our phones) we headed out of the park and to our accommodations (note I didn’t say hotel) for the evening. I had booked this room as it was the closest to the park (based on the google map) without being one of the high price ($600) or unavailable rooms at the lodges in the park. Turns out, there is a National forest adjacent to Yellowstone so our hotel was actually about an hour drive from the east gate. And the road had construction so suddenly we got worried if we were gonna make it before the reception desk closed at 10. After a quick stop for a burger (our only food other than the subway sandwich lunch we ate in the car during a previous construction delay) we hightailed it down windy roads and reached the Trail Shop Inn about 9:30.
Needless to say after getting up at 5:30 and having an exciting first day in the park and planning to get up early again to spend our second day there, we went almost immediately to bed happy to rest but having had a really great day of incredible sights!