Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone was our last stop on our epic national park road trip that also included Glacier and Grand Teton. And it was perhaps my biggest regret.

I regret not spending more time there.

Obviously the same could be said about every park I go to, I always want more time. There’s just so much to do! But I had kind of brushed off Yellowstone as just some geysers that I could easily see all in one day. And I was so excited for the other two that it was an easy decision to give Yellowstone the short end of the stick.

I was wrong. And I won’t feel better about it until we go back and spend the proper week it deserves there.

Going into it, I knew we had to see Ol’ Faithful (obviously) and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Knowing that Ol’ Faithful would be tourist hell, we tried to get there as early as possible. There were still a million people, but it was manageable. The parking lot only got worse and worse as our time there went on.

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The entire geyser basin area is crazy cool. It was awesome to be driving through the park and all of a sudden you see “smoke” rising up from all these random places.

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Science is cool.

We were close to an eruption time so we waited around the ole girl for a bit to see it before wandering on. And as her name suggests, she blew right on schedule.

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It was pretty awesome, but honestly when something has been talked up so much it’s pretty easy to be disappointed.

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I’m still glad we saw it, don’t get me wrong. And I was amazed at how long the eruptions last! Like several minutes long, depending on the geyser.

As we started wandering around the area, a woman came up behind us and told us that Grand Geyser was currently going off and we should hurry to go see it. We were very tired and James’ knees were dying so we just kept strolling on. But then I was reading the pamphlet as we walked and saw that an eruption can last over ten minutes!

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It seemed even taller than Ol’ Faithful, but you know…still just steam shooting into the air. I’m a buzzkill, I know.

We had a lot of fun walking around the rest of the area though! It’s so crazy how every single geyser/hot spring/geothermal pool is SO different.

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As we were walking, we came across the Riverside Geyser. The park rangers had anticipated an eruption between 10:50-11:50am. It was about 11:30 when we got there so we decided to hang out for a bit.

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Well an hour later, still nothing had happened. The rangers do their best and are super good at their jobs but these things just can’t always be predicted. Finally, after almost an hour of waiting, with several false alarms, we decided to keep wandering around a bit and see the morning glory pool.

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Sadly, it has these awesome colors because of pollution. Dumb tourists would throw coins, etc. into the pool and it would cause unnatural erosion to the sides. It’s very sad and frustrating, but it sure is beautiful.

We also stumbled across the Grand Geyser. Take a look at the list of most recent eruptions.

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It was almost five years between eruptions and then it erupted just 3 weeks before we were there! Needless to say, we didn’t see this one go.

BUT we did make it back to Riverside to see it FINALLY erupt, about 2 hours behind schedule.

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It was pretty cool how it shot across the water. But still, just more steam shooting into the air.

Also, I think we need to take a second to appreciate how almost all of my pictures from this area make it look like there was no one else there. I cannot stress enough how many freaking people were everywhere! But that’s what we get for going in the middle of July.

From there we decided to drive the long way around to get to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone in an attempt to see as much of the park as possible.

I nerded out over the continental divide again.

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And of course freaked out about how high we were.

The drive around Grand Loop Road was awesome! It’s crazy how many different landscapes there are all in one park. It’s crazy just how freaking BIG this park is. We drove for miles and miles and miles and barely even scratched the surface. We drove through forests then plains then mountains then lakes. It was wicked cool. And then every now and then you’d come around a bend and there would be a random hot spring or geyser just by itself by the side of the road. And there were bison everywhere! And they did not give a crap about the humans.

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There was also one just chilling like 2 feet away from the road at one point, but I was driving and James got the picture with his dinosaur phone so it’s probably not worth sharing.

The parking area at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone was a shit show. It was late in the afternoon so we expected it, but it was mostly people just being idiots and not pulling all the way into the lot. There were plenty of free spots but it was bottlenecked getting in. Regardless, we finally made it.

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And it literally took my breath away. I had seen pictures, but I was not ready for this.

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The colors and rocks were just indescribable.

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James somehow mustered up the ability to hike down to a lower vantage point despite his old man knees and it just kept getting more impressive.

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I’m so glad that I at least got one thing right by making our way over to this part of the park. It’s just still so unbelievable that this exists next to massive forests next to a giant lake next to towering mountains next to miles and miles of geothermal activity. All in one park! Yellowstone is so amazing, guys.

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Yellowstone, we will absolutely be back as soon as possible and I promise to never underestimate you ever again!

Can’t miss stops on our next trip:

  • Mount Washburn
  • Mammoth Caves
  • Grand Prismatic Springs
  • Hiking around the Grand Canyon
  • Mystic Falls

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