Yellowstone Part 2 - Old Faithful and Beyond

Published: September 12th 2013
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Yellowstone Part 2 - Old Faithful and Beyond

Today's touring of Yellowstone took us around the west side of the park. That side has more thermal areas than the east side and more people. We set off early with the intention of eating breakfast at the grill just like yesterday, but apparently today is the first day of the fall season and all the restaurants and stores open much later in the day. I wasn't asking for a sunrise breakfast, but thought 8am would be acceptable. I thought wrong. After we realized that area would not open for hours we made our way around to Old Faithful. It was about to erupt when we arrived so we quickly ran to the geyser to watch. And she blew....a lot of steam. Of course there was lots of water too, but all you could really see was steam for it was very cold this morning. We then stopped at 3 different restaurants still trying to find something for breakfast, but all had later hours so we were left with a breakfast pizza from the snack bar of the general store. We ate that and started searching for mom a jacket for she had stolen mine and I was now in need of it for it was only 45 degrees out there. She could not find one she liked, so she still has mine.

We then decided to continue north. Today's plan was to head north and work our way back south stopping at most of the sights during our southward trek. That plan worked pretty well, but the roads are so long that you often under estimate how much time each area will take. We stopped at a few thermal areas and waterfalls along the way to Mammoth Hot Springs. Also many overlooks called our name, so a few more stops along the way were inevitable. We finally arrived in Mammoth just in time for lunch - right ahead of the 5 tour buses. At lunch we had a group ask us to share our table for it was very crowded and empty tables were hard to find. Being 2 southern ladies, we graciously agreed but then they just started talking amongst themselves in a foreign language and literally turned their back to us - and it was a round table. They couldn't wait for us to leave and we were more than happy to finish as well. Clearly they were not from the south.

After lunch we headed out the north entrance. The landscape changes from forests to boulders to dry Rocky Mountains all within 7 miles. But all areas are picture worthy. The north entrance takes you into Montana for a brief spell and after exiting the park we turned right around and went back in. The north entrance is the famous entrance that contains the Roosevelt Arch, so we grabbed our photo and moved on. It was worth driving out there for it.

We came back into Mammoth Springs and stopped and walked and stopped and walked and walked and walked along the boardwalks to several terraces of hot springs. The springs have minerals creating unique formations all throughout the area. Some areas look like snow, others have all sorts of colors running through them created by bacteria. We finished up with the terraces and headed back south. We stopped at a couple of basins and captured some pictures of more interesting heat vents, pools, geysers, etc. Some were so crowded that there was no where to park, some the trail was too long so we skipped them for I was on a mission to get to a certain hike today.

After traveling down the caldera rim a while and venturing along the Firehole Canyon rim, we arrived at my one 'must do hike' of the day. It was Fairy Falls hike. I had researched this hike and read all about it. The trail was 3 miles round trip and offers views along the river, views of the Grand Prismatic Spring and the waterfall. 3 miles? No problem. When we arrived to the trail head we realized that though the trail is 3 miles, you had to hike 1 mile to get to the trail and hike 1 mile back making it a 5 mile hike. It was too late in the day to start a 5 mile hike and we were both too tired to hike another 5 miles. So we opted to hike just as far as the view of the spring. The trail to the view skirts off the main trail and it is not an official trail - just one that visitors have made themselves and used for years. We stopped at the bottom of the unofficial trail scoping out how steep it was. It was extremely steep with rocks and logs that had to be maneuvered around. It was a bit dangerous. I told mom to stay back and I would go it alone for it was too treacherous for her. So off I went - carefully choosing my foot placement holding onto whatever I could - did I mention it was steep? I stopped about 2/3 of the way up at a good landing spot to catch my breath and had a pretty good view. About that time, several people came down and said that where I was gave as good of a view as all the way to the top did. That was music to my ears! So I ventured no further. I rested until my heart rate regulated then took a few pictures. Then I had to navigate my way back down. Going down is always harder than going up. It was slow and difficult, but I made it. When I reached the bottom. Mom was waiting for me and told me a young guy looked at the trail I was on and said "no way" and chickened out. That gave my ego a little boost. That particular unofficial trail requires more mental strength than physical strength - overcoming your fear. We then headed back to the car to continue on. I was not really disappointed in not seeing the falls, for my main objective was to get to this view and I did accomplish that.

We then went back to the Old Faithful area, but just missed another eruption. We walked along the geyser trail a bit and visited the Old Faithful Inn. That inn itself is as unique and striking as Old Faithful and is like no other. The craftsmanship is amazing. We wandered through the inn a bit and ventured back outside after being told that the earliest we get dinner at the inn would be 9pm for it was then only 6pm. Wait three hours to eat and then drive 1 and a half hours in the dark to our cabin? No thank you. So we checked out the other restaurants in the area and nothing appealed to us so we went back to the inn to be put on a waiting list, but as luck would have it, they could seat us right then - only 45 minutes after the first time we asked. The food was delicious and the atmosphere couldn't be better. We finished just in time to go watch Old Faithful erupt again. I took the opportunity of having cell service at that area to call home and my husband was able to see us on the Old Faithful web cam - kind of cool. It was late by that time so we quickly hit the road and headed back to the cabin. It turned dark long before we arrived so we had to take it slow and easy.

We did see a bear today, but he was too far away to get any pictures. We saw lots of buffalo, deer, and elk. But still no moose. Tomorrow we head back into the Grand Tetons where I am hopeful to find one.

Additional photos below
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10th October 2013

The Open Road Calleth
This photo was taken in northwest Yellowstone - right around the Wyoming/Montana border, located between Mammoth Springs and the north entrance. This area of the park is a bit drier than other areas creating different views with a vast difference in vegetation, but no less spectacular. The open road draws you in - making you want to go farther and farther, seeing as much as you can possibly see - which is exactly what we did.

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