Aug. 23-25, 2108
The drive to West Yellowstone took us about 5 hours. Our first stop was the Wolf and Grizzly Discovery Center. The price of admission seemed pretty high to me, and I was disappointed that most of the animals were not out. The wolves were all sleeping in the shade, and they only let one bear out at a time. But it was still cool to see a large grizzly bear up close – with a safety fence between us.
We then drove about 20 miles to the northwest to the Earthquake Lake Visitor’s Center. I found this very interesting – and it was free. Back in 1959 an earthquake caused a large landslide which buried the river and a campground (killing some people). It formed a lake in the valley. The area isn’t really all that big, but it is still impressive to see how powerful nature can be. If you have the time, this is well worth visiting.
We returned to West Yellowstone to watch the “Yellowstone” IMAX movie, and then went back to the discovery center to see if the wolves were up from their naps. We did see one wolf milling about.
The next morning, we entered Yellowstone National Park. A good friend recommended using the GyPSy Guide app for Yellowstone. This is a GPS-driven app for your phone. As you drive through the park, the narrator tells about the history of the area and makes recommendations on how to best enjoy your time in the park. It gives advice based on your interest and availability of time. It cost me $10 for the combination guide for both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The park service offers free apps, but I never tried those because the GyPSy app was so good. Everyone in the car enjoyed the lively narrations and interesting tips and facts. It really did add a lot to our experience.
We turned south at Madison and worked our way to Old Faithful. Our first stop was at a waterfall along the scenic Firehole River. Years ago, we stopped to swim in the river, but it wasn’t as warm as we expected. The river has many geysers and hot pots spilling into the river, but it was still pretty chilly.
Our next stop was Lower Geyser Basin. One thing we noticed was that many of the hot pots were altered or created during the same earthquake in 1959 that formed Earthquake Lake.
We decided to skip Midway Geyser Basin, but regretted that decision. As we drove past, it looked more interesting than Lower Geyser Basin, but when we came back, the parking lot was full – so we didn’t get to visit this section.
We timed our arrival at Old Faithful really well. We only had to wait about 10 minutes for the irruption. The irruption seemed smaller and shorter than I remembered for years before, but it was still nice to see. Afterward we walked over to the old lodge to check out the historic log construction.
Old Faithful would be a great place to spend the night if you have young children. You can then take your time exploring the board walks or even riding bicycles around, since the area is relatively flat.
We then back-tracked to Madison, and worked our way up to Mammoth Hot Springs. We stopped at Gibbon Falls, Norris Geyser Basin, and Roaring Mountain along the way. You really need a lot of time (and energy) to explore Norris Basin since the board walks are really quite long.
We drove east past the Tower-Roosevelt area, which looked like an interesting place to stay. Then on to Lamar Valley where we saw several isolated Bison and a few Pronghorn. It was disappointing that we didn’t see more wildlife.
Our next stop was Tower Falls, then the drive through Hayden Valley where we saw one small herd of Bison.
It was fairly late in the day when we arrived at the Canyon area to view upper and lower falls. The falls were in shadow, and the air was really smoky, so we weren’t able to get any really great photos of the falls. Some of the overlook roads were also closed for construction, so we didn’t spend too much time here.
We rented a log cabin in Lake Village for the night. We didn’t find much to do around Lake Village, and we were all pretty tired, so we went to bed fairly early. The buffet breakfast and dinner weren’t bad, but the rooms don’t have TVs or any cell service.
On our third and final day of our trip, we drove back to see Fishing Bridge, and then headed to Grand Teton National Park. The air was so smoky, the view of the Tetons was not very impressive. We wanted to take the boat ride across Jenney Lake to Hidden Falls, but the area was under construction and there were no available parking spots. We did see a paved bike path in the park that looks interesting for a future visit.
This was a very quick trip and we packed too much into one day – but we did manage to visit all of the major sites we wanted to see. Next time I would prefer to spend more time and not cram so much into one day.