We drove into Yellowstone at the South Entrance. From the south we got to enjoy a nice view of a canyon to welcome us into the park. Unfortunately, like the Grand Tetons it was rainy and unseasonably cold. Because of the weather and because I was fighting a cold, we decided not to camp and instead to add two days to our stay in the West Yellowstone Explorer Cabins. Although we wanted to get to our cabin quickly and relax, we couldn’t resist the urge to stop at at least one turnoff and see some of Yellowstone’s famous geothermal features. We stopped at Black Sands Basin where we enjoyed our first glimpses of some of the many bubbling geysers in Yellowstone. From there, we stopped briefly at the Old Faithful Visitor’s Center but didn’t stay for an eruption. As we headed towards our cabin we passed a buffalo on the side of the road. Because of the damp weather and the colds Jon and I were fighting we stayed in that night.
The next morning was also cold and rainy and I was still feeling very sick. We got a late start, but finally made it into the park. We decided to follow the drive recommended in our National Geographic Guide Book. The first stop of the day was Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin, but before we got there we passed another big buffalo.
Old Faithful was fun to watch, but I think that we had just as much fun walking around the rest of the upper geyser basin. At least two more geysers erupted while we were walking around. However, our favorite part of the Upper Geyser Basin was the Morning Glory Hot Spring.
From there we went to the Midway Geyser Basin, Fountain Paint Pots, and the Firehole River Falls. Our our way out of the park we saw more buffalo (which didn’t excite us anymore) and an elk. It was late by the time we finally got back to our Explorer Cabin. As a nice surprise we found Yellowstone Jack in our room and he asked to come along on the next day’s adventure. Before that though we got dinner at The Wild West Pizzeria, where we all enjoyed a pizza and lasagne.
The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel and then drove into the park again, this time going north. Our first stop was Gibbon Falls was a short distance from the main road.
Gibbon Falls which was pretty but was forgotten quickly when we got to our next destination, the Yellowstone River near the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. From the start of our trailhead we could see the ‘upper falls’ in the distance, but we continued down the steep switchbacks to the ‘lower falls’. The lower falls is an incredible and powerful waterfall which we really enjoyed. The falls and river carve out a beautiful canyon. We spent some more time driving to various canyon overlooks and enjoying the view. Of course Yellowstone Jack was with us.
After seeing the falls we drove though one of the park’s scenic loops looking for wildlife and views. Dinner later was at the Buffalo Bar and Grill, which we had picked because we wanted a buffalo burger. After dinner, Ginger took advantage of the fire-pit at our cabin and made everyone s’mores.
The next day was our last full day at Yellowstone, so we had to squeeze in everything left. We decided to drive around the upper loop stopping at Mammoth Springs. We must have entered Mammoth at a bad area because we weren’t very impressed at first, but by the time we saw Aphrodite Terrace and Devil’s Thumb we were amazed by the beautiful terraced calcium deposits in sparking white. The quick drive past Angels Spring on the way out was also amazing.
Before leaving Mammoth, Jon and I stopped in the Backcountry Hiking office to pick up our hiking permit for the upcoming days. Our last meal in West Yellowstone was at Cafe Madriz, the best reviewed restaurant in town which served up tapas and paella, and it was good!
More photos – Upper Geyser Basin
Yellowstone River, Lower Falls, and Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Mammoth Hot Springs