For Road Trip 2015: Day 9, we woke up in our very secluded cabin in Island Park Idaho and got ready to venture into Yellowstone National Park!
I had been to Yellowstone twice as a young girl but my family had never seen it and we were so excited for everything it held. However, after our very late arrival the night before, we didn’t exactly get up and out early that day! We took our time, ate breakfast at the cabin, then packed up our cooler for lunch and headed out!
You can see the full map of Yellowstone here, but on our first day there, we drove in and went south:
Our plan had actually been to make it all the way to West Thumb, then turn south and pop into Grand Teton National Park, but sadly, due to road construction the road was closed before we got there so we were unable to do that. We brainstormed other routes to get to Grand Teton, but ultimately, it would’ve taken a huge amount of time to get there and we had too many other things we wanted to do.
I should note – we didn’t know about the road closure until we got pretty far south – it seems like we didn’t see the signs until we were past Old Faithful. Either way, we’d have still taken the southern route so we could see Old Faithful but I’m not sure if it would’ve changed our overall plans for the day.
So… anyway, let me tell you about what we did see that day! Not long after entering the park, the beauty becomes apparent. I can’t remember exactly how far it was, but the West entrance into Yellowstone follows along the Madison River (up above) and immediately we began seeing wildlife…
There are two things you see everywhere in Yellowstone… elk and bison (or buffalo, as we call them 😉 ) This cow elk was the first animal we spotted that day! She wasn’t as up close as the moose that nearly hit our truck the day before, but it was still very exciting to see her! And below… one of the first of hundreds of bison:
We also saw ducks in the river and some other birds (I can’t remember the name – we looked it up at the time, but it’s been too long):
I apologize for the poor quality of those pics – the birds were all pretty far away!
Because of our late start, it didn’t take long for the kids to start saying how hungry they were, so we had lunch at a roadside picnic area (out of our cooler) then got back on the road!
Our primary goal for the day was to make it to Old Faithful! We checked the schedule at the first Information Station for the predicted times for it to erupt then took our time getting there.
We also let the kids sign up for the Junior Ranger program, then we walked around inside the visitor’s center and let the kids learn about the geysers and get some ideas of things they’d like to see/do at Yellowstone.
I’ve spent days going through pictures and to keep this post from being a million miles long, I’m going to share some highlights of our trip down to Old Faithful and back out with very little narrative. Or at least try… I do tend to ramble 😉
Once we got back on the road, one of our first sites to see was Firehole Falls. Waterfalls are one of my favorite things to see so I was pretty excited 🙂
Next, we took a loop off the main road to see the Fountain Paint Pots. This Celestine Pool was probably my favorite… it was just gorgeous:
Can you see the road out there behind the pool? It’s so amazing how at Yellowstone, the geysers and pools and animals and waterfalls are all just RIGHT THERE – along the roads winding through the park. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things you can hike to (or have to hike to), but there is also plenty to see in plain sight – without having to “get off the beaten path”.
So, in the same area… you could also see why they called this area the Fountain Paint Pots…
they were like bubbling hot paint coming right out of the ground. And the smell…. ewwwwww! It made that gloopy bubbling sound!
On that same loop was the Great Fountain Geyser. It’s not Old Faithful, but it still drew quite the crowd:
I wish I could tell you exactly where this was taken, but it is probably one of my most favorite photos from the day (below) – click to enlarge:
I can’t tell you exactly where all of these were taken, but here are a few other favorites from the drive:
And finally – we made it to Old Faithful!!
There were hundreds… maybe thousands of people there waiting to watch!! This is to the left of where we sat:
and this is to the right…
Can you see how far around there they go?? Forever and ever… so.many.people. And it was raining on and off … and very chilly… and we all waited!!
And snapped silly pictures.
And waited some more.
I actually made a little .gif for you to see Old Faithful erupting. Not all the pics are from the exact angle or the same exposure, but it’s still fun, right? (see below)
OH – and it would sort of trick you. It would spew a little and we’d all think it was starting, then it would die out again… but eventually, we did see it full blown!!
If you can’t see the gif, here’s one still shot at it’s full height that day:
I took probably 50+ pictures of the whole thing, but I also tried to be present and enjoy it in person – not just from behind the lens so the pics aren’t fantastic. Oh – I also got his one picture of the Lodge there… it’s a pretty fantastic building:
After seeing it and taking lots of pics, we also made a few more stops on our way back out of Yellowstone…
I loved this pic… storm clouds rushing in and then all the itty-bitty tiny people standing in the mist of some of the geysers.
And then more bison… everywhere! On the hills, in the distance…
Next to the roads…
and even in the parking lots:
and the roads… ha! You can see that they were shedding their heavy winter coats and we even spotted several with calves (although I never got a great pic of a baby):
We also saw another waterfall and a river running beneath us in a beautiful canyon – I didn’t take a picture of the sign for this one so I can’t remember which one or where it was. :-/
We also took another little side road to see a “Flash Spring” and more paint pots.
To get to these paint pots, we had to do a bit of a hike, but it was just so pretty!! Here are a couple of pics:
I’m not sure if you can tell in these pics, but while the storm had blown past without much rain, it was getting close to dark.
I got several beautiful sunset pictures…
And that was it… our first day at Yellowstone! I have no idea what we ate for supper, but I’m sure it was something we cooked at the cabin (seems like maybe tacos?)!
I hope to get our 2nd day at Yellowstone posted soon… but gosh – it seriously takes me DAYS to get all the pics sorted and edited and resized. Until then….