The next four nights and days are in Yellowstone. The visit can be summarized as amazing with lots of animal sightings and geyser exploration. For those that want a more detailed report keep reading but beware we really packed in a lot everyday. Overall with early starts and by getting away from the parking lots we were able to enjoy endless points of beauty!
July 5th arrived and it was time to head into Yellowstone and celebrate Dave’s Birthday! It made for another early morning but we quickly packed up and hit the road. The drive from Cody to the East entrance is through a beautiful canyon and we were treated to sand hill cranes, a few elk in the morning mist and fox running down the road before we even hit the entrance. We already had reservations at Madison Creek campground so we were able to take our time and explore as we drove the loop across the park. More animals included another fox, bald eagles and a pine martin. The views were great and we stopped several times to view Yellowstone Lake. We hit some steam vents down along the shore and the boys finally smelled the sulfur fumes and understood what we had been warning them about. They laughed and plugged their noses.
William spotted our first bison when we stopped to take a hike in Pelican Valley. It was grazing in the forest behind the parking lot. We hiked out a mile or two up to some mud pots and viewed more bison. The boys got a kick out of finding the bison fur caught in the sage. They worked out some energy and nerves about hiking in the wilderness with such big animals around.
After setting up camp and celebrating David’s birthday we just had to keep exploring. We checked out the Terrace Hotpots, the Gibbons Falls, the Artist Paintpots and Beryl Spring. It was very calm and quiet out with few people around so we were able to take our time. My personal favorite of the evening was listening to the blub, blub of the mud bubbling at the Artist Paintpots. The boys seemed to just love running anywhere on the board walks and Dave keep his keen eyes out for the wildlife. I think Beryl Springs is when William started to dislike the sulfur smell and all the jokes about farts, toots, and stinkies started. I won’t even try to mention or keep track of the number of bison we saw through out our stay. And so ended our first adventure filled day in Yellowstone.
We decided to check the iconic Old Faithful off our list for the park the next day. Another early start meant we had the boardwalk to ourselves at the Grand Prismatic but also that it was extra steamy with the cool night air. We still arrived extra early for Old Faithful and enjoyed a cup of cocoa as we waited. She lived up to her name and Joshua got the geyser bug. He instantly wanted to see another eruption! We didn’t have much expectations of seeing any more but we headed out to hike the basin board walks and trails. We ended up walking a large loop and seeing a total of 7 geyser eruptions!!! Besides Old Faithful, we saw Daisy from a little ways away. We passed the Grotto and were taking a break when Will spotted it going off so we rushed back to see the unusual shaped spray. After admiring Morning Glory pool we made the loop back to enjoy some ice cream. At this point we thought we were done since it was getting hot and busy and the only other expected eruptions were later in the day and another hike. Then William spotted the Lions group erupting across the basin! That was followed up with the Beehive getting active and a cashier from the general store informed us that if the timing worked out we might see it and Old Faithful going off together which only happens very 100 years or so! We rushed over towards the Beehive and sure enough it erupted. Very spectacular and high stream! It was a little early but did overlap with Old Faithful so we got to see both of them going. Whew, too much excitement. Time for a quiet drive….only as we drove Firehole drive another smaller geyser erupted and it wasn’t even lunch time yet.
We had a picnic lunch at the Nez Perce Picnic Area before heading out Fountain Flat drive. The boys biked while we hiked. We stopped for Dave to do a little fishing while we played in the river. It was so warm! We saw an osprey and bald eagle fighting in the air for the second time this summer. It must happen more often than we realize. Fishing wasn’t that great but a nice relaxing area. When we pressed on to a pond farther out we saw an elk in the distance that did some crazy zigzag runs with stops and starts that made us think it was being hunted. Didn’t ever get a clear look at a wolf but caught a glimpse of a grey, white flash through the grass.
Later that day we drove out to gas up and check out West Yellowstone. Along the way we stopped and watched seven elk bedded down by the river. The bugs were out but we had a nice vantage point to observe them for a while. By the time we made it back to the campsite we were exhausted and the boys wanted to know if we were ever going to hang out at the campsite. Even so Dave managed to head down to the Gibbon for the evening fly hatch. Lots of fishing action!
I know, are you as tired of reading as we were from all adventures? And that was only the first two days. More pictures to come.