Montana

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

This is the second post of several about Yellowstone National Park.  If you missed the first one you can find it here: Yellowstone: Geysers and Hot Springs.

While visiting the Old Faithful and Canyon Village areas of Yellowstone we stayed at Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park in West Yellowstone, Montana.  This was a really nice RV park.  It was expensive, but so is everything else anywhere near Yellowstone.  We enjoyed relaxing outside with Mom and Dad after hiking in the park all day.

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The boys loved the playground.

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And we enjoyed this shelter one evening to play a game of Mexican Train dominoes.

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The town of West Yellowstone is super cute.  Everything is western themed.

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Jake even got into the western theme and bought himself a cowboy hat!

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We visited the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center where we saw several grizzlies actively playing.  The wolves were all asleep, and usually when we go to zoos the bears are usually sleeping too.  But at this place the bears were so active which made it lots of fun to watch them.

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Anyway let’s talk about the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.  We parked at the Artist Point parking lot.  Artist Point is a beautiful viewpoint looking down the canyon toward Lower Falls.

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Artist Point

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After enjoying the view for a little while, we headed down the Rim Trail to get closer and better views of the falls.  This hike had some beautiful view points.

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We went down Uncle Tom’s Trail which is a staircase with 328 steps.  Going down is easy, coming back up — not so much!  But it’s worth it because going down gives you even closer views of the canyon and falls.

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After climbing back up the stairs we continued on down the Rim Trail a little further to see the Upper Falls.

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This was a really nice hike and not too crowded.  Most of the crowd only comes to see the viewpoint from the Artist Point parking lot.  Hiking the trail gives you many more beautiful views without the crowds.

 

Categories: Montana, National Parks, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Yellowstone: Geysers and Hot Springs

Wow, just wow!!  That’s what I have to say about Yellowstone National Park.  It is the most unusual and fascinating place I have ever seen!  It’s also a huge park and there are so many different areas and features to see.  There are mountains and lakes and rivers, geysers and hot springs, a canyon, lots of wildlife, etc.  I will write about Yellowstone in a few different posts because there is way too much to put in just one.

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This post will be about the various geysers and hot springs we saw in the Old Faithful area.  We started at Grand Prismatic Spring which was one thing I wanted to see the most, but it ended up being a little disappointing because it was such a cold morning (35 degrees in August!), and the heat from the springs gave off so much steam that you couldn’t really see the colorful springs.  I’ve seen pictures of Grand Prismatic before, but it didn’t look quite the same when we were there because of all the steam.  Nevertheless, it was still a spectacular sight to see.

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Grand Prismatic Spring

This is Chris walking down one of the boardwalks and there was so much steam everywhere.  It’s like the entire ground surface is just boiling under us and steam was everywhere!

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From there we went to Old Faithful.  You can’t come to Yellowstone and not see Old Faithful because it’s the most popular thing to see.  But I was really surprised at how many people only come and see that and don’t venture out and see all the other amazing things to see around Yellowstone.  And quite frankly I didn’t think Old Faithful was nearly as interesting as all of the other things we saw at Yellowstone.  Don’t get me wrong, Old Faithful is pretty cool because it is so predictable (hence the name).  It’s amazing to me how accurately they can predict when it will erupt.  We were able to see it erupt 3 times that day from different angles all because the predictions are so accurate.

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Front row seats at Old Faithful

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Old Faithful from the back side

These hot spring pools were a lot more interesting to me.  Look how deep into the earth it goes!  I wanted to just dive in there and see how far down it goes, but of course I wouldn’t do that because I don’t want to die right now.

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Morning Glory

I loved all these turquoise blue pools.  And you could see that they went down so deep into the earth.  It looked so mysterious, like I wonder how far down it goes and what is down there?  The kids’ junior ranger book has a chart to show how hot the various colored water is, and I was surprised to learn that blue is the hottest.  Blue looks like it should be cold.

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Sapphire Pool

Artemisia Pool was one of my favorites.  We went on a long hike and came upon this geyser that happened to be erupting at the time.  That was good timing since it doesn’t erupt very often.  On average it erupts anywhere from every 11 hours to every 3 days!  I guess we were pretty blessed to come upon that geyser at just the right time.

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Artemisia Pool erupting

We walked by later and it was no longer erupting.  Still just as beautiful though!

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Artemisia Pool dormant

As we hiked around this section of the park we came across many steaming geysers.  It was so incredible to see all this heat and steam coming out of the ground!  Yellowstone does a good job of providing many safe hiking trails and boardwalks so you can see these amazing features without getting burned.  But some people don’t take the warnings seriously and the worst can happen if you walk off the boardwalks.  We’ve heard stories of the tragedies… please follow the rules.

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Giant Geyser

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Yellowstone is very crowded in the summer.  If you want to enjoy the scenery and hike some nice trails, plan to get to the parking lots early.  As I mentioned before, I’m surprised at how many people just come to the popular spots like Old Faithful, and don’t even go any further to explore all the amazing features at this park.  But that is great for those of us that like to hike the trails!  We love to get away from the crowds, and once we started walking off towards the other geysers and hot springs in the area the crowds dispersed.

We went to the Norris Geyser Basin mid-afternoon one day and it was pretty crowded, but not as bad as the Old Faithful area.  The Norris area is mostly dormant geysers that don’t seem to erupt very often, but it was still a pretty walk along the boardwalk to view this area.

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Norris Geyser Basin

I follow several other blogs of fulltime RV’ing families, one of them is Crazy Family Adventure.  They went to Yellowstone last summer and wrote several blog posts about their visit which I saved for future reference.  I found their posts about Yellowstone to be so useful in planning our time there.  One thing I learned from their blog that we did was the hike to Lone Star Geyser.  This is definitely one of the “roads less traveled” in Yellowstone as we did not see very many people there.  It is aptly named “Lone Star” as it is a geyser all by itself out in the middle of nowhere.  It is quite spectacular though.  It only goes off every 3 hours or so and erupts for about 30 minutes.  And it is powerful!  We timed it pretty well in getting there just about an hour before the main event.  I say “main event” because there were a few false alarms where it erupted for a few minutes and then stopped.  The other people there said that when it goes, it really goes for a long time.  So we waited and it was worth the wait.

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Lone Star Geyser before eruption

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Long Star Geyser erupting

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The kids were able to play in the river while we waited for Lone Star.

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I should mention the hike to this geyser was over 2 miles and it was a boring hike.  There was not much to see on the hike out there, and then of course you have to hike the same boring 2+ miles back when it’s over.  I would recommend riding bikes instead.

This blog post has gotten long enough.  I will post some more later about other areas we visited.  Stay tuned!

Categories: Montana, National Parks, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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