Let’s get right into Yellowstone! Like I noted in my last post, we got up EARLY so that we could hopefully beat the crowds. That worked, to an extent. National Parks are a whole different beast when it comes to tourists. Not even a pandemic can keep people away!
Our first few stops were Painted Pots, Grand Prismatic, and then a short hike to Mystic Falls. They were all different but kind of the same. Elements of geothermal pools, multicolored, and often smelly. These few places had yet to be over-run by people for the day. On our way down from Mystic Falls we could tell it was starting to get packed, cars parked everywhere and mobs of people flooding the trails.
My main goal for Yellowstone was to see Old Faithful. Every hour, within 10 minutes on each side, the geyser goes off. The most spectacular in the park. Scott and I first saw it from the peak of Mystic Falls miles away. Then we got up close and personal. I loved it, Scott didn’t seem too impressed. But remember this is coming from the guy who thought black sand at Craters of the Moon was awesome… After Old Faithful erupted, we walked the upper geyser trail and then headed toward Mammoth Hot Springs.
Our route was a bit backwards as we had to back track in the beginning, but after the hot springs we were able to drive the whole road around the park. On the way to Mammoth we saw a cute bison taking a little nap on the side of the road, completely un-phased by the cars passing him by. Once at Mammoth a whole onslaught of people were out. We climbed around the weird geothermal formations, saw a nasty snake, and got up close and personal with an elk on the path. The orange, blue, white powdery textured rocks reminded us a lot of Iceland.
Driving down the rest of the road we had to keep our eyes peeled for wildlife. All Scott wanted was to see a bear. We had yet to see one in the wild together. Though we saw no bears in Yellowstone, we did see plenty of bison and elk roaming around. That was more than enough for me. I did not want to encounter a bear on any of our hikes. Lord knows I wouldn’t have been able to stay calm, and out of all the things we’ve done in the last year, a bear attack is not the way I would want to go.
We finished up our drive through Yellowstone at the Yellowstone Lake. It was really beautiful, but incredibly choppy. We stopped for a quick snack and then continued down the road, looking for somewhere to camp for the night that was near the Tetons.
Every campsite we stopped at on the way to the Tetons was full. Not really suprising because Yellowstone and the Tetons are practically attached, they are so close. We ended up driving all the way to the Tetons, through the Tetons, and camped on the other side. Basically as close as we could get, because you know the drill. Get up at the crack of dawn and beat the crowds.
We were lucky enough to camp just outside the park at Gros Venre Campground. We pulled up late afternoon and they had ONE spot left. Lucky for once! We pulled up the van, took a quick solar shower, and cooked up some delicious shrimp quesadillas. Scott did some last minute research on the hike we were supposed to take the next morning because it begins with a boat ride and we wanted to time it right!