Hey everyone! We’re back with Part 2 of our September 2015 trip to Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks! If you missed Part 1, you can check it out here.
When we left off we were just finishing our time at Glacier National Park. From there we road tripped our way back to Yellowstone National Park.
Campgrounds at Yellowstone are first-come, first-served, so we were nervous driving in late in the day that all the campsites would be full. We got extremely lucky as one of the main roads in Yellowstone was under construction, and Norris Campground was easy to miss. We were able to slip in and set up camp in a gorgeous spot, relatively late in the day.
Our first stop that evening was Mammoth Hot Springs.
It was getting pretty late so after checking out the hot springs we headed back to our campsite for the evening. We had a dinner consisting of a freeze-dried backpacking meal and hot chocolate for dessert. We also made friends with a group of German campers who came over to share some drinks and stories around our campfire.
The next morning dawned bright and early, and we headed south towards Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin. There were lots of bison visible from the road (and sometimes ON the road!).
Even just driving around, the views were incredible. There are geysers and hot springs everywhere putting off huge plumes of steam into the air.
We made it down to Old Faithful early in the day, around 8 am. I would highly recommend trying to get there early before all the crowds arrive. It was still a pretty busy place even that early, due to the Old Faithful Inn and Lodge being located right next to the site.
From there, a few easy miles of road and boardwalk led us around the area to see a lot of the smaller hot springs. The springs are gorgeous, and really interesting geological formations. The colors of the springs vary depending on the temperature of the spring and which thermophile microorganisms live there.
Morning Glory spring (shown below) was one of the most gorgeous springs on our walk. I would definitely try to make it to this one if you are visiting.
This part of the park was incredibly well maintained, with really nice boardwalks to wander along. The boardwalks are necessary to keep people from walking on the springs and destroying the sensitive ecosystems there.
The boardwalks don’t keep out the four-legged creatures though.
While we were visiting this part of the park we stopped by Old Faithful Inn just to take a look at the interesting architecture of the old building. The original structure was built over a hundred years ago, in the early 1900s.
From there, we headed back north to the Lower Geyser Basin. Along the road a lot of cars were stopped, and we slowed down to see why. A grizzly bear was wandering along within view.
Unfortunately we couldn’t get a great shot even with my nice camera because he was so far away, but we did manage to snap a few photos of him.
From there we parked and wandered along the boardwalk of Norris Geyser Basin.
The colors yet again were amazing. The hot springs and geysers are honestly one of the most interesting things we’ve ever seen. We had a great time exploring the different parts of the park.
By then it was getting on into the evening, so we retired early to our campsite. While we were at Yellowstone we stayed in the same campsite every night since they can be difficult to come by, and we were in a gorgeous spot at Norris.
The next morning we got up early to go on a ranger-led hike. It was an easy trail that took about three hours, and was mostly elderly retirees on vacation. We still had a really good time learning about the region, and also listening to some of the anecdotes the ranger told us.
We saw some more wildlife on the hike and also along the road as we headed back towards Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower Junction.
Next we headed out to the northwest side of the park, where we were able to visit Yellowstone’s petrified forest. We also had another bear sighting while on the road on the west side of the park. It was amazing how many people stopped along the road and pulled out their giant cameras to take photos of the wildlife.
As the day wore on, we drove into Mammoth Village for dinner. We ate at the Mammoth Hotel Dining Room, which was pretty decent. We also wandered around the village and visited the Albright Visitor Center and Museum. Several four-legged friends were hanging out nearby.
And from there we headed back to our campsite for a final evening in Yellowstone.
In the morning on our way out we stopped by the Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the United States. It was an amazing sight, but photos from the ground don’t do it justice. Aerial images of the spring are out of this world.
And that was it! We drove early out of Yellowstone back toward Bozeman, MT to catch our flight back to Dallas. It was an incredible, once in a lifetime trip, and we would love to go back with our kids some day to see these amazing natural wonders again.
Stay tuned for more of our #travelbackthursday posts to see some of the other amazing places we have traveled over the years.