Yellowstone NP!

Leaving Glacier, we drove for about four hours and began to look for a campground off of highway 89 and found a cute USFS with 8 sites named Aspen. We looked around – only one other site was occupied and after figuring out how to pump water we filled our Rhino pacs and looked around the area. Dinner and wine and we settled in for the night, and watched the Americans. We left early and made it to Livingston, Montana around 11:30, hit the gas station, two museums, and had a fabulous lunch under clouds mixed with sprinkles.

By nights end three spots were taken. It was a lush site and very quiet.

Yellowstone Gateway Museum in Livingston.

Had a great lunch outside at Glenn’s Food and Spirits in Livingston.

The road to this campsite is short, but not easy, due to the road width. The KOA allowed us to get water, which was a good thing as we have learned that not all campgrounds have running water.

Deciding to get as close to Yellowstone as we could we headed for the KOA only to find it full. We filled up with water and using the AllStays app we headed to Pine Creek campground and managed to get one of the only non reserved sites. The road in is just as stated: paved, narrow and steep. It’s a sweet spot, the views were comforting, the weather cleared and we saw the mountains behind us.  Walking around the campground we marveled at the old stone fireplaces in some of the sites. Up early we headed to Gardiner to shop and get breakfast. Cute town and would have liked to have spent more time here. Hitting the entrance station we missed the grand entrance but got in line and were in the park by 10:00 am on Wednesday, July 26.

The Gallatin Range and Swan Lake. This area is on 89 past the Mammoth Hot Springs.

The first scenic area we passed was the Mammoth Hot Springs area and it was packed. Driving along the Grand Loop road, roadwork was occurring, as it needs to when the weather is predictable, but we were able to get to our site in Bridge Bay at the campground by noon. After setting up camp we looked around and ran across an elk making his way through the grounds. We walked to the entrance station and got information and decided to take the Circle of Fire Tour leaving at 8:00 am on Thursday and the lake tour on Friday. We drove to the Yellowstone Lake Hotel and made dinner reservations for Friday night.

Our campsite was perfect!

The meadow in the campground, view of Yellowstone Lake and our first real bison! We did see one meander quickly off the road as we drove through the park but nothing like this .

And this elk loved our campsite vegetation!

Thursday morning we boarded the big bus at the entrance station and settled in for the day with a great group of tourists for the Circle of Fire Tour. Numerous stops for the day included Yellowstone Lake to learn about the history and fish issues, Old Faithful for lunch, eruption, history and a look at the lodge, Fountain Paint Pot Nature Trail and the geology of the park, Hayden Valley and all the wildlife- including a bear swimming across the river, and the majestic upper and lower fall of the Grand Canyon which was beyond my vocabulary. We learned so much and highly recommend this trip. A major thunderstorm hit just after we arrived back at our campground, making it known the weather is as diverse as the park.

After doing all the boat tours in Glacier and seeing it from another perspective, we really embraced the tours at Yellowstone.

Our guide on the yellow bus was great and proved to be super knowledgeable giving us all sorts of ideas/times/places for further adventures in Yellowstone.

I think we saw a total of five eruptions of Old Faithful while we were in the park. I was blown away at how the place fills up with thousands of people and then they leave after the 90 seconds.

Fountain Geyser is one of 16 on the Fountain Paint Pot Nature Trail.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is 20 miles long. This is the view from Artist’s Point. The colors and the sounds are incredible.

The Yellowstone Lake boat tour was at 9 am Friday morning and as big as this lake is we were only able to see a very small section. Back in camp after the tour we hung out and I snapped a great picture of a bison in our campsite marking his territory while John went for a bike ride. After lunch we decided because the weather was cooler (Yellowstone days were cooler and also there was rain daily) we might want to have our other propane tank filled so off to Fishing Bridge we drove. We explored the old interpretive center, got gas (cheaper than home), purchased propane, and picked up a hiking map. Back at camp we changed and drove to dinner at the Lake Hotel where we witnessed a major rain storm and multiple rainbows on Yellowstone Lake. It was perfect watching a Quartet playing fabulous music, viewing the lake, watching rainbows appear and drinking wine. Dinner was perfect except no view but the ambiance made up for it.

I was surprised to see such an extensive marina. This area is where the boats go out to deal with the non-native Lake trout.

The “Scenicruise” lasts one hour and the guides along with the NPS ranger were very entertaining.

This dude left us a present.

Nothing better then live music, rainbows and wine at this yellow hotel.

 It’s Saturday morning and I experimented and made egg cups in the oven, we then drove to Grant Village to look at the interpretative center, drove to Old Faithful for another view of eruption, walked around the Upper Geyser Basin, and lunched at the Old Faithful lodge on the porch. Our timing was perfect because the rain came in and we were covered as we watched an eruption again. We continued exploring the village and got ice cream and coffee in the Old Faithful Hotel. Heading out I wanted to see the Grand Prismatic Spring and it was crowded…but then it rained and we got a parking spot, unfortunately when there is a temperature change there is fog and it’s hard to grasp the scene. We then headed on the Firehole Lake Drive and saw numerous geysers , then hit the Firehole Canyon Drive where one can swim but parking is tight. Rain rounded off our night.

Looking at the Geyser predictions for the day.

One of the many geysers in the Old Faithful hiking section.

Grand Prismatic is beautiful. As the park service says, “please pack your patience.”

Firehole Lake Drive was pretty empty compared to many other areas of the park.

Sunday was our last day in Yellowstone, and we had finally bought bear spray, so it was time to hike. After fresh baked scones we drove a short way to hike Elephant Back Mountain trail. It was a 3.5 mile round trip and contained a spectacular view of Yellowstone Lake. Even though it was moderately strenuous my feet handled it fine, since it was our first major hike since the Highline trail. After our hike we drove round the lake a bit then settled in for chicken on the bbq.

Nothing makes me wonder more than seeing vegetation growing out of rocks.

This was the year of snow plant sightings throughout our travels.

Yellowstone Lake from the vantage point on the trail.

Last dinner in Yellowstone.