Day 1: Yellowstone

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by two cruisers on March 21, 2012

My last trip to Yellowstone National Park was in 1958. I know they have had an major earthquake and a gigantic forest fire since then, but I wasn't prepared for all the changes.The Park is huge and should not be hurried through. Of course bumper to bumper road traffic thru construction zone entering the park wasn't what I had in mind for lingering. But lets face it folks, they only have a few months a year to repair roads and it happens to coincide with when tourists want to be on the roads. Be patient, and look for animals while stalled in traffic. Our first day we saw elk in the Madison River Valley. The drive in from West Yellowstone was lovely and we could see the distruction to the forests from both the famous earthquake and the forest fire.
At Madison we turned South and drove to Old Faithful. Even starting out as early as we did it was difficult to find a parking place. At last we parked near some Yurts...very good landmark. We walked from there to the geyeser Old Faithful. We had just missed an eruption, so we wandered over to the Old Faithful Inn. They have a clock in the lobby that predicts the next eruption within 10 minutes. How convienent! We took the wait time to admire this fantastic building. Rugged, spacious, and constructed with flourishes that only nature can contribute. By that I mean the curved limbs from logs forming supports. At the deli we bought coffee and muffins that we took out to the front porch to eat. While waiting there we enjoyed watching the foot traffic and vehicles in the drop-off zone. Bill was particularly interested inthe yellow Yellowstone Tour Bus. Unique to this park, these vehicles take guest on tours of the park. Next trip we're going to do that!
We wandered over to the big guy geyser early to make sure we had a front fow seat. A little prarie dog joined us for awhile. So, cute and so tame. Soon the benches all around us filled and just as the eruption started a group of people came and stood in front of us!!!! Their guide did finally get them to sit down on the curb, but they still were annoying. We did benefit from hearing the running dialogue of the guide in front of us and another off to the side. Old Faithful was faithful. We were given a modest performance, but it was greeted with cheers and lots of camera clicks. Later in the day we saw a more dramatic display.
Lunch time took us back to the Old Faithful Inn were we ate in their dining room. Waiting to be seated we gleaned information about where to find bison and bear from the family standing in line in front of us. Folks are generally very nice and love to talk about what they have seen and done. The restaurant is in a newer but not new addition to the Inn. We had no trouble finding good selections on the menu. The tables were seperated enough to allow easy movement. Servers where courteous and friendly. Yup, we would be coming back here before we left the area.
After lunch I took a brief pass through the Visitors Center. It had good displays to explain the thermal activity and other natural wonders of the area. Leaving we looked for the Yurts and our car. Our afternoon was spent in the Biscuit Basin, Midway Geyeser Basin, and the Grand Prismatic Spring. It was warm out, and there were long walks between geysers, so half way through the afternoon, Bill took to bench sitting. I admitted I had to bench sit occasionally to rest between sections of the boardwalk trails. Altitude is the main culprit. Be prepared for it. Keep hydrated. Wear a hat and sungasses. And make sure that hat doesn't blow off because there are winds up here. The Park Service does a very good job of posting a map of the area at the trailhead. That gave us the opportunity to judge our physical capabilites for the area. The joy of seeing those first startling colorful basins or pools sneaks up on you. I've never heard so many adults exclaiming "Oh, Wow!" The boardwalks are solid and safe. Use caution is some wet areas as they can be slippery for some shoes. I was expecting the beauty of the colorful pools, I was surprised by the beauty of the run-off area of the Grand Prismatic Spring. Its appearance of roof tiles or terraced land under clear water was awesome. I think I kept repeating out loud, "just look at that!".
It was wonderful day. As we drove back to West Yellowstone we watched another work of nature as a dramatic storm approached.
Yellowstone National Park
Headwaters of the Yellowstone River
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 82190
(307) 344-7381

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