SUMMER ROAD TRIP, DAY 11
We have arrived Yellowstone National Park! We are staying seven nights to explore the area and have set up at Grant Village Campground in the south end of the park.
Established in 1872, Yellowstone was the first national park in America. As the National Park Service is celebrating its 100 year anniversary, Yellowstone is turning the ripe old age of 144.
Although it holds dense mountain forests and wildlife-occupied pastures within its borders, its most unique landscape is its geysers, mud pools, and hot springs.
Here’s a creepy fact for you: the park sits on top of one of the largest active volcanoes in the world! So why not start there right? Our first full day we knocked out the southwest side of the park which includes the Old Faith area.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK 5 DAY ITINERARY
Old Faithful Area
We arrived at 7:20 am and the parking lots and boardwalks were virtually empty. There were some people walking around, but nothing like when we left in the afternoon.
We stopped in the Visitor Center first to find out when Old Faithful erupts next. It blows every 80 – 90 minutes.
We had time so we watched the short film in the theater about Yellowstone. Even though I enjoyed the film and continued to watch several at some of the other Visitor Centers, I have to comment on how old some of them are. I think it’s time for the National Park Service to update their videos. They were still informative and since we don’t have internet access on our phones (I’ll get into more detail on that later), the videos answered some of the questions we had about the park.
Even after watching the film, we had time until the next eruption so we walked the boardwalk around Old Faithful Geyser Loop then settled in for the show.
Upper Geyser Basin
After watching the infamous Old Faithful Geyser explode, we walked the Upper Geyser Basin. The area is filled with the world’s largest concentration of active geysers. It is incredible walking past colorful hot springs and bursting geysers, some just inches away from your feet.
A section of the walk is along the Firehole River (an appropriate name!).
Old Faithful Inn
Built in the early 1900’s, the Old Faithful Inn is considered the largest log structure in the world. The inside atrium looks like a tree house with a huge stone fireplace and iron clock.
The Old Faithful Inn has a deck on the second floor with a perfect view of Old Faithful. Not only can you get a great view with a seat, you can bring in your own snack or lunch. They also have a bar around the corner on the inside if you want to order a drink.
Black Sand Basin
After a few hours, we hopped back in the car and drove to the Black Sand Basin just a few minutes north from Old Faithful. It’s a short stop, about ¼ of a mile walking trail with the Cliff Geyser, Emerald Pool, Sunset Lake and Rainbow Pool.
Three miles north of Old Faithful, Biscuit Basin was up next. It’s another short walk at about 1/4 of a mile long. The area has a few springs and geysers: Sapphire Pool, Jewel Geyser, Shell Geyser, Avoca Spring, and Mustard Spring.
Mystic Falls Hike
At the end of the boardwalk in the Biscuit Basin is the trailhead to Mystic Falls. It is our first waterfall hike in Yellowstone! Guess what we forgot? You probably guessed it… bear spray. We were alone some parts, but I played music on my phone, calling out and clapping every once in awhile. You do not want to surprise a bear with your presence is what we were told. We also ran into large groups throughout the hike and tried to stay close to a group going the same way as us. It was about 2 miles out and back.
Midway Geyser Basin
The gem of Midway Geyser Basin is the Grand Prismatic Spring. It is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world. I want to say the colors are unnatural, but it’s the exact opposite! It is a rainbow of vibrant colors including blue, green, yellow and orange.
Favorites of the Day – Must See Yellowstone Wonders
Morning Glory Pool
Grand Prismatic Spring
Tips for Visiting Yellowstone
I may reiterate some of these each day, but I’ll include some tips at the bottom that we learn throughout our time in Yellowstone.
- Get up and out early! I cannot stress this enough especially when visiting in the summer. Every morning we were out driving to our first stop by 6:30 – 7:00 am and never had any issues with parking. We were told the busiest time is between 10 am – 6 pm and we can confirm this is SO true.
- Check out the deck on the second floor of Old Faithful Inn for perfect views of Old Faithful and an eating area where you can order something or bring in your own.
- Always wear layers. It’s cold in the morning then warms up in the afternoon. The weather can change at any minute especially when hiking in high elevations.
Next Stop: Yellowstone Canyon and Beartooth Highway
And so our epic 80 day summer road trip continues – 13 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces and 13 national parks. Follow our journey via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Miles Driven Today: 245, Total Miles Driven: 2,373, Average Gas Price per Gallon: $2.67, States: Wyoming
If you would like to see our full itinerary, start at the beginning here. And Start at Day One here.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Yellowstone National Park?
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I loved this post. Haven’t been there for many years, so it was nice to be reminded of all the cool sights to see. A personal favorite of mine were the bright yellow canyons and waterfalls, which look more like paintings than reality!
P.S. To clarify, in taking a closer look at your wonderful photos I decided most ALL of Yellowstone’s sights look like paintings, not reality!
I totally agree, getting an early start is a must in the parks & areas that are heavily visited, like Yellowstone and the Tetons. I try to save stops at the visitor centers for the afternoon after I’ve done some hikes and walks in the area.
I’ve been through the area several times now. Some areas have definitely changed. The huge Yellowstone fire was devastating to the area and to the locals. I forget what year it was but it was terrible. My photographs from the first time I visited prior to the fire and photographs after the fire really tell a story.
I did not know about the upper viewing deck. That is something I have to check out the next time I’m there. Thank you for sharing.
I remembered seeing the fire on the news years ago, but didn’t see any of the aftermath. We watched a video at one of the Visitor Centers about it and it is interesting to hear their take on it. It’s amazing how fast (in relative terms) the area starts to recover.