Yellowstone Vacation Day 6: Yellowstone

Thurs. August 18th

All of our late nights caught up to us, I guess, because we got a bit of a late start this morning.

Cody is about an hour out from Yellowstone so we had a bit of a drive before we even got into the park. I highly recommend eating and using the restroom before you head out because despite the popularity of Yellowstone, there isn't much on the way.

Our first pullout was the dam. We didn't go into the visitor's center because we were anxious to get into Yellowstone.

[caption id="attachment_3088" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Waterfall Waterfall[/caption]

At one point we pulled over to use one of the few restrooms and noticed there was a steep trail leading down to a small waterfall. I hiked down and back with the boys. It was really pretty!

[caption id="attachment_3089" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Dam pullout! Dam pullout![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3090" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Tunnel on the way in Tunnel on the way in[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3091" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Not even to the park and it's so pretty! Not even to the park and it's so pretty![/caption]

Yellowstone Lake was really pretty. We stopped for a few moments.

[caption id="attachment_3093" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Yellowstone Lake Yellowstone Lake[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3092" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Annual "Feet on the Beach" pic. Annual "Feet on the Beach" pic.[/caption]

We headed straight over to the Visitor's Center at Fishing Bridge. There was a bit of a buzz because a bear was visiting. A Ranger was directing people. She asked that we take a look and then move along. This was the best picture I could get.

[caption id="attachment_3094" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Can you see it? Can you see it?[/caption]

The boys grabbed their JR books and we headed South to West Thumb Geyser Basin.

Just a pause here to say: Yellowstone is huge. From Fishing Bridge to West Thumb is quite a drive. I think that's good to know because even if you're like us and you only stop at pullovers and short/easy hikes, you're still going to spend a lot of time in Yellowtone. Just getting from one place to another can sometimes take a while.

Now, West Thumb:

Yellowstone-West-Thumber-Geyser-Basin-Yellowstone-Lake Yellowstone-West-Thumb-Geyser-Basin Yellowstone-West-Thumb-Geyser-Basin-2

Beautiful!! These are only a few of the pictures. There's a long maze of boardwalks that wind around so that you can get a good view of all the the springs and geysers.

Next, we decided to put the pedal to the metal so that we could make a Ranger-led talk being presented at Black Sand Basin. We headed West, passed right by Old Faithful, and arrived with about 10 minutes to spare.

A large bison was hanging out right by the parking spot. Of course, visitors were doing exactly what they warn you not to do by standing wayyyyy to close and snapping a bunch of pictures.

The Ranger arrived and told people to move away. All complied except one woman. I don't think she understood English, but it was clear what the Ranger was asking her to do. It took a while, but she finally stopped taking pictures and retreated to her car.

The presentation began and lasted about an hour. We learned all about geysers and fountains  and how they work. She talked about the threats to the geysers and springs and how they can harm people and animals. We walked the boardwalk during the talk and she would point out various features and answer questions. I highly recommend attending Ranger-led talks whenever possible because they are a wealth of information. Plus, the Rangers are SO COOL.

[caption id="attachment_3099" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Black Sand Basin Black Sand Basin[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3100" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Working hard at Black Sand Basin Working hard at Black Sand Basin[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3101" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Emerald Pool Emerald Pool[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3102" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Opalescent Pool Opalescent Pool[/caption]

As soon as the talk was over we backtracked to Old Faithful. Again, we were early so we were able to grab a spot in front. I highly recommend being early to things in Yellowstone. It's such a popular destination now.

What can I say about Old Faithful?'s old. And faithful. We waited around a bit. It would tease us by sputtering a bit and then it would die back down. OF is a bit of a drama queen (king?).

[caption id="attachment_3103" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Thar she blows! Thar she blows![/caption]


I'm glad to say we've seen Old Faithful, but honestly there are other geysers in the park that are more spectacular, if wow factor is what you're looking for.

We dashed across the way to grab a late lunch/early dinner at the Geyser Grill. Much to our delight, they had gluten-free buns and cookies. Ben and I got bison brats and Luke got a bison burger.

Biscuit Basin was next.


[caption id="attachment_3106" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Sapphire Pool Sapphire Pool[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3107" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Shell Pool Shell Pool[/caption]

If all of my geyser/spring photos start to look the same, that's okay. They all look the same to me, too!

Several folks on TripAdvisor highly recommended that we do the Mystic Falls hike. Usually, in parks, we do several, if not all, of the short/easy hikes. In Yellowstone, though, you really do get a lot of walk in just at these various basins. The boardwalks are sometimes extensive and some include fairly steep inclines and sometimes stairs. It's a workout in and of itself.

Nontheless, we started out on the Mystic Falls hike. Wooo-eeee is all I can say. It was beautiful and probably my best memory from Yellowstone, but it was a steep, intense hike and even though it's only around 3 miles we felt like we were hiking forever!

[caption id="attachment_3113" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Mystic Falls path. It looks so innocent... Mystic Falls path. It looks so innocent...[/caption]

Oh the wildflowers! There were everywhere! Purple, yellow, white...Amazing.


[caption id="attachment_3115" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Raspberry Raspberry[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3112" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Grandma and Gabe taking a breather at the Falls Overlook Grandma and Gabe taking a breather at the Falls Overlook[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_3110" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Mystic Falls Mystic Falls[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3109" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Heartleaf Arnica Heartleaf Arnica[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3108" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Canada Goldenrod Canada Goldenrod[/caption]

Now that I've shown you all of that beauty, I have to share this...

I know it's not pleasant, but it's just one of those things. Luke's stomach was really bothering him. It had started right after eating at Geyser Grill. That boy pooped along this twice! He used all of the emergency tp I had stashed in my bag! Poor guy. It's kind of legend because on our vacation last year he ended up having to go by the side of the road, hidden by some sagebrush. So it was only fitting, I guess, that he have a repeat episode this time around. When you gotta go you gotta go, I guess.

Thank goodness I'd had the foresight to bring charcoal capsules along with me. I gave him one that evening and he was fine the rest of the trip.

Once our hike was over we were all done for the day. We headed over to the Old Faithful Inn. We could never afford to stay there, but I'm glad we popped in. They have a coffee shop on the second floor that allows free refills all day. Ben found it by accident when we were in the area earlier and told us that we all had to pop in to see the inn itself.

He was right. It was cool and worth visiting. It's old and so interesting on the inside. It's like a treehouse. Also, there are lots of comfy chairs placed about for weary visitors to plop into. A woman was playing a cello nearby. It was the perfect place to kick back for a few minutes. I wish we could have stayed a bit longer, actually.

We had a long drive back to our hotel. If we'd known how long it would take us to backtrack and get back to the hotel we would have stayed elsewhere. The hotels in the park are way too expensive, but if you are flexible you can find a hotel outside of whatever entrance you find yourself at at the end of the day. If I had to do it all over again, though, I would probably just book a room in Jackson and stay there the whole time. It was "close" and very reasonable rates.

Even though we arrived to the hotel late (10ish) Ben still found it in him to do a load of laundry. I love that man!

Our first day at Yellowstone was great. Day 2 is more of the same!



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