Being on holidays makes it really hard to remember what day it is! We normally try to do the more touristy things during the week so that we don’t have to deal with massive crowds, but it doesn’t always work out. We headed up to Yellowstone on a Sunday, which was mistake number 1. J and I both woke up on the wrong side of the bed, so by the time we’d driven for 2 hours we both majorly had our grump on! In hindsight we should have stayed in the park (or at least West Yellowstone) for a night, instead of being based in Jackson the whole time (mistake number 2). We didn’t realize quite how far it was between the major attractions in both parks.
Once we got to Old Faithful we grabbed a hiking map, went back to the car to change shoes, and then went for a walk. Neither of us was very excited by it all to start with! We went to Castle Geyser first. The major geysers can be fairly predictable, and Castle generally erupts every 14 hours, and they normally predict the next eruption to within 2 hours or so. We were within a 2 hour window, and were discussing whether we should hang around and wait when it started! After the morning we’d had I wasn’t expecting much, but it went from this:
There’s nothing like an explosion of steam and water to really lift the mood! We walked the whole trail around the geysers and hot springs, and took about a thousand photos. The colours at the springs are insane, because of heat loving bacteria. It was all incredibly beautiful.
After walking the whole trail (which wasn’t really a trail), we went back to the lodge to eat lunch. I can’t get over the facilities in American National Parks; in Australia you’re lucky to get a long drop toilet, and maybe an information centre! We definitely don’t have restaurants or accommodation in our parks. The parks in the US are very accessible, but I sometimes get less of a sense of accomplishment when you can drive up and practically take the photograph from your car.
We checked out most of the geothermal features near Old Faithful, but we didn’t watch the most famous geyser in the world. There was a little bit of a wait, and it was super crowded so we decided to keep going, and headed up to Prismatic Spring. So pretty! The wind and steam made it really hard to get a good photo…
My favourite features were probably the paint pots. It’s like watching a hypnotic horror movie, watching them bubble away. Boiling mud: very bizarre.
When we were planning our trip, J spent a lot of time researching grizzlies. He was convinced we were going to get eaten, which meant he was NOT keen on doing much hiking.
The most abundant wildlife that we saw were the Bison. We saw a few individual beasts, and a couple small herds. When we were getting close to Mammoth Hot Springs we came upon a line of stopped traffic near a bridge, and there was an RV in front of us so we couldnt see what was going on. The cars eventually started moving forward very slowly, and then we saw it – a buffalo leading a cavalcade of cars soming toward us! The buffalo obviously thinks it owns the road (and it’s probably right).
The northern end of the park wasn’t all that interesting. The highlight was buying some pretzels and Gatorade. I guess the Terraces are cool – they’re mainly grey/white, with occasional vibrant splashes of colour.
We managed to see a black bear further along on our loop around the park, but the traffic jam that it caused was ridiculous so we kept going. It was pretty cute, and not very scary from a distance. I’m sure someone else in the crowd would run slower than me and get eaten first if the bear got angry!
My advice to anyone visiting Yellowstone is to spend at least 2 days there, to stay in the park and get up early. Everything’s nice and peaceful in the mornings. We left the hotel at 7am, and didn’t get back until 8pm. It was an epic day! The pizza that we ate for dinner was demolished in about 3 seconds flat. I don’t know if it was delicious, or if we were just ravenous.
And now, here’s a photo of a moose.