Monday, July 31, 2017

Yellowstone National Park

So, when someone talks about Yellowstone, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Old Faithful! 

I really wanted to go see this, so after a quick tour of the lake and an educational brief for the kids with park rangers (we learned about how far to stay away from the Wildlife and how to use bear spray), we headed over to the Old Faithful area. 

On the way there, there were cars stopped on the side of the road and people out with cameras everywhere! There was a small herd of elk and their babies (calves) grazing on the grass along the road, so we also stopped to get out, take photos, and explore. We found a bunch of elk poop and elk tracks and flowers and then got back into the truck to continue to our destination.

Pulling into the parking lot at Old Faithful, we could see a bunch of buildings and everyone walking in the same direction, so we followed suit. 
We quickly came upon a boardwalk with seating and with a huge crowd around us, waited for that giant geyser to spray her hot steam into the air. Old Faithful certainly isn’t the only geyser in the area,

and it’s not the biggest.

Beehive Geyser erupting

While sitting there, waiting, we could see geysers shooting off in the distance in the treeline. Then, all of a sudden, a small geyser, named Beehive geyser, which is right near Old Faithful, started to erupt. Apparently, this geyser only goes off once every 8 to 24 hours, so we were lucky enough to see it and then within a few minutes of it erupting, Old Faithful joined the party!

Old Faithful

It was really incredible to see in person after having seen photos of it my whole life. It was windy that day, so it wasn’t as high as it could go (approximately 90’), but it was beautiful, nonetheless.

After the geyser erupted and the crowds somewhat thinned, we headed off on a trail around the area to see more hot springs and mud geysers in the Upper Geyser Basin. The colors in some of the geysers were incredible: blues and greens and yellows and reds. There were some that were boiling, others simply steaming. The ground around us was littered with buffalo tracks and buffalo patties (poo, people…that would be buffalo poo). The minerals dispersed by the springs must be a good source of nutrients for them as they frequent the area. 

We made it back around the loop and headed into one of the shops in the area. We found ourselves some Huckleberry lollipops and syrup and jam. We then headed to the Old Faithful lodge which is an incredibly unique and beautiful log cabin lodge with a large amount of history. There, we got some huckleberry ice cream and a few souvenirs. Let me start this next part by stating that when we began the day, we were in shorts and t-shirts, but we did have jackets with us. It was a bit chilly, but we all ended up taking our jackets off as we walked around. We came out from this adorable hotel, it was cold. So, so cold. Now, there was a bit of snow on the ground at the campground and along parts of the drive, so we knew this was a possibility, but we didn’t expect it to start snowing on us. It did. It got so cold, so fast. We got into the truck and started driving. In the lower elevations it rained on us, but as we climbed up certain peaks, it was snowing.


As we drove out of the Old Faithful area, we saw a few single buffalo in the trees. This was odd to me as I had really only thought of buffalo in open prairie lands in large herds. We found a canyon river drive and as we pulled into it, we were immediately greeted with a sighting of a young elk, feeding on the grass along the river. These animals were completely undisturbed by the passing vehicles and people with cameras pointed at them. 

Further into the canyon, there was a small parking lot to get out and see the waterfall in that area. It was a fast moving, raging waterfall, but not extremely tall. We, of course, got some photos and headed back out of the area. 

By this point everyone was pretty chilly when we got out of the truck. 

We headed back to the campsite where we found that we had gotten quite a dusting of snow and it was still snowing. 

We turned the generator on to heat the trailer, made dinner, and put the kids to bed. We had to turn the generator off by 8 for quiet hours, so Miah and I sat by the campfire drinking a bottle of wine he had picked up from a nearby Yellowstone store (where he also bought me a coat, because I packed warm clothes for everyone but myself somehow).

We got up in the morning and it was FREEEEEEZING!! It was 40 degrees in the trailer, but luckily it heated up quite quickly as we made breakfast and ran the heater again. The kids, in the meantime, went outside and made a snowman on the picnic table!!

 Today’s destination wasn’t anything in particular, but we wanted to see what we could and see as much wildlife as possible. We were not disappointed! Almost immediately after getting onto the road, we saw herds of buffalo (and boy were they scruffy looking as they were losing their heavy winter coats). They were walking along the roadside, in the road, laying in valleys eating, and just doing their own buffalo things. There were bulls and cows and calves of all sizes. We went into Canyon area and found another, much larger, waterfall. After a small walk around this area, we went to the restaurant to get some food and then to explore one of the visitor centers and museums available.

Leaving there, we wanted to head north, but the road was closed because the pass was no longer passable due to the amount of snow they had received and they were clearing it. Instead, we decided to head toward the rainbow pools of Yellowstone.

On the way, we, once again, saw people pulled over on the side of the road, aiming cameras up into the hillside. We got out and saw a momma blackbear and her cub hanging out. We were able to get
some great photos with my camera! It was incredible to see them, though they were far enough away, we couldn’t even use my phone to take photos.

The rainbow pool area was a bit disappointing due to the very cold weather because it was so steamy that it was difficult to see the actual pools.

We headed back to the campsite and made dinner.

This was to be our last night in Yellowstone and we were going to head out the following morning….if you’ve seen my facebook posts, you know this didn’t happen quite as we had planned.