Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Wild Wild (Mid)West: Yellowstone
Visiting Yellowstone was incredible. Pretty much everywhere you looked was amazing! My biggest regret from our trip was that we didn't have more time to spend there... I'll definitely be returning someday, and will spend a lot more time! We got a decent taste of the park, but there were so many hikes and sights we missed!
Travel tip: It costs $25 to enter Yellowstone, but your pass is then good for a week. Going for more than a day is totally recommended - while we didn't fully take advantage of the pass, it was still worth the entrance fee!
At the Roosevelt arch at the north entrance!
We entered the park a little before 11am, crossed the state line into Wyoming almost immediately, and right off the bat saw a lovely creek and stumbled upon some mountain goats!
The goats were totally camouflaged - we didn't even see them until we looked closer!
We drove south from the entrance until Hot Springs, then veered east to check out Tower Falls. We did basically a backwards "S" through the park, looping down and around, then out to the east entrance.
Elk grazing at the Hot Springs visitor center!
It looked like a painting!
We stopped for a short hike when we got to the Tower Falls - it's a short walk to the falls overlook, then a longer, steep hike to the bottom. When we visited, the trail to the bottom of the falls was closed, but you could still hike down to the river. We did, and it was totally worth it. It was not only nice to stretch out legs, but we waded into the water for a minute and were completely refreshed!
View of the river about 3/4 of the way down.
Down by the river!
The hike back up was a little rough - you're at a higher elevation than we were used to, and the trail is all switchbacks. But we made it, and were again on our way towards Old Faithful.
Travel tip: Food can be expensive, and kind of sparse in the park, so we brought along the makings for peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. It saved us a bunch of money and frustration, since we definitely got hungry when we weren't anywhere near a rest stop. M even made me a sandwich while I drove!
A bison on the range! (That little brown dot on the right center is a huge bison!)
And another bison on the roadside!
A super cool geyser we stumbled upon - they were all over the park!
While we drove, we kept coming across patches of dead trees that had fallen over. We couldn't figure out what had happened to them! The day after we left Yellowstone, our horse trail guide told us the trees were getting infested with some kind of beetle, which killed them, then the winds would come through and knock the dead trees down. It was really sad to see all the dead trees!
We finally made it to Old Faithful at about 4:15pm. Old Faithful was due to go off again at 4:50pm, so we did a quick walk around Upper Basin trail, where we could keep an eye on it in case it went off sooner. There are two other big geysers you can walk to really easily from Old Faithful, but we all really wanted to see Old Faithful and it was starting to get late in the day, so we stuck around. We ended up being really glad we did, because Upper Basin trail was incredible! So many cool geysers and formations! And it turns out they were spot on about when Old Faithful was going to go - I guess it really lives up to its name.
Travel tip: We happened to be in Yellowstone on a summer Friday afternoon, and it was quite busy at Old Faithful. We'd love to go back in the morning, or on a weekday in the off season so that we could enjoy the area without so many people.
Old Faithful started right on time!
Almost immediately after we got to our car to head towards the hotel, it started POURING rain. It continued to pour the entire drive from Old Faithful to our hotel, so we missed out on all the sights we might have seen, including Yellowstone Lake. The lake was massive, though, that we could tell!
We finally made it out of the park around 8pm, making it a very long day in the car! We'd been expecting it, but we were all still exhausted. As I mentioned - we loved Yellowstone and wished we had had more time there. I look forward to someday going back and wandering around!
Coming up next: Horseback riding and Wyoming!