From Grand Teton we drove straight up through the park and into Yellowstone. The two parks butt right up against each other. We exited Grand Teton’s North entrance and drove right into Yellowstone’s South entrance. It’s very convenient. Yellowstone is a giant park though, so the drive from the entrance to our campground was about an hour.
There are two loop roads that go through Yellowstone and intersect in the middle of the park. We wanted to choose a campground that was sort of in the middle of those loops so we could do the south loop one day and the north loop the next. We got a site at Madison Campground which is near the top of the south loop. It was a good location and the campground itself was very nice. It’s very close to the Grand Prismatic Spring and Old Faithful, which are two of Yellowstone’s most popular attractions.
We booked two nights, set up camp, then headed out to see some geysers. We headed south out of Madison campground in the direction of Old faithful, making a few stops along the way to look at other geysers. Our first stop was the Lower Geyser Basin. There is a wooden boardwalk that takes you past a lot of geysers and hot springs. There is a bit of a Sulphur smell, but it was really cool. I had never seen anything like it before.
You need to stay on the boardwalk or else you’ll fall through the ground and melt. It really happened last year to one guy. He fell into a geyser and they couldn’t find him because he melted. There are signs everywhere warning you not to go off the trail though, so it was kind of his own fault for being so dumb.
Our next stop was the Midway Geyser Basin. This is where the Grand Prismatic Spring is located so it was very crowded. There is a wooden boardwalk that takes you out to the spring and at the end of the boardwalk there is a large viewing platform for people to stand on while they take pictures.
It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life. The colors are so vivid and the blend together on the ground beautifully. I wasn’t able to get a good picture of it at all unfortunately. It was one of the times on my trip that I really regretted not investing in a good camera. I’m sure even the best camera could do it justice though. Definitely go see it with your own eyes.
The water is the brightest shade of blue and the other colors around the edges, the yellows greens and oranges, are caused by bacteria build up. That’s kind of gross I guess, but it’s really pretty.
Our final stop for the day was to the Upper Geyser Basin, home of Old faithful. The parking lot for Old Faithful is huge, which is good because it sure is a busy place. There is a visitor center, a lodge, a restaurant, a gift shop, and other amenities as well. The visitor center is really informative and is where they post the next time Old Faithful is going to erupt.
We got there about thirty minutes before an eruption was going to occur so we were able to get from row seats. There are benches all around Old Faithful, but there is always a giant crowd of people standing. I’m very short, so being in the front made me very happy.
Old Faithful goes off approximately every 45 minutes. It starts out small then gets bigger, going as high as 180 feet into the air. This is another sight that is hard to capture with a camera so I recommend checking it out with your own eyes sometime.
After Old Faithful erupted we decided to hike one of the trails that start behind the geyser. We chose the Geyser Hill Loop because it is just over a mile long and takes you past a lot of neat geothermal activity.
After the hike we headed back to our campground for some dinner and relaxation. The next morning we woke up and headed out to explore the rest of Yellowstone. We went north out of our campground and made our first stop at Gibbon Falls. It’s an 84 feet tall waterfall on the Gibbon River and it’s very beautiful.
Our next stop was the Artists Paint Pots. This was a really weird place. A paint pot is basically a hole in the ground that is full of bubbling mud. The bud is boiling because the ground is so hot. It was chilly out that morning and the heat from the paint pots was making the air very steamy. It was kind of creepy looking. Like something out of a scary movie.
We continued north to the Norris Geyser Basin. It was pretty similar to the Upper and Lower Geyser Basins we had visited the day before. There is a walkway through a bunch of geysers and it is home to Steamboat Geyser, the tallest geyser in the world. It is an active geyser but it does not go off very often.
We were now driving on the northern loop road on our way to Mammoth Hot Springs. There is a visitor Center here and a few very fancy looking lodges. The main attraction here is this very weird mountain that is pure white. It is made out of calcium carbonate and is very strange looking.
Next we headed east across the very top of the park and stopped at Undine Falls, another very nice waterfall.
Driving along we saw a sign for the Petrified Tree and decided to stop and check it out. It was not very exciting. There’s a short path to a petrified tree. It’s just one tree stump and it’s in a cage so you can’t really get close to it. We did see a group of people out riding horses though, which was pretty cool.
The next major attraction you come to is Tower Roosevelt. It’s like another little tourist town. The main attraction is the 132 feet tall Tower Falls.
Our next stop was Canyon Village. This is another very popular part of Yellowstone. There are two scenic loop roads to drive, one for the upper falls and one for the lower falls. There are a number of overlooks to stop at along the way, the most popular of which is Artist Point. There is a beautiful view of Yosemite Falls from this point and many artist set of here to paint or draw the falls.
This overlook was very crowded and unfortunately there was a large group of tourists there who were being very rude and pushing people out of the way to take pictures. I was patient and waited my turn, but most people don’t have that same mind set. They push their way in and don’t care if they are getting in someone else’s photos.
Our last stop for the day was down to Yellowstone Lake. There are more cabins, lodges, restaurants, and shops, and of course a gorgeous lake. It’s a pretty good sized lake with mountains in the background and in island in the middle. Quite a few people were out in their boats enjoying the water. While we were at Yellowstone there was a small section in the southern part of the park that was closed due to a forest fire. You can see the smoke cloud in this picture.
While technically we made it around the entire park, we came nowhere near to seeing everything. Yellowstone is enormous and it is full of trails and activities. You could easily spend a week at Yellowstone and not see everything. This would be one that I put on my list pf places to go back to someday.
Have you ever been to Yellowstone? What section of the park was your favorite?