Monday, August 5, 2013

Yellowstone National Park Trip

Well, we're back in Boston and I'm already missing Jackson Hole.  The last week was one of my favorite vacations ever.  I've already told you about our first day, hiking trails around Jenny Lake and Colter Bay (where we saw a bear) - check it out if you missed it!  We spent our second day in Yellowstone National Park.  It was one long day, packing everything into one trip, but we did it!

Yellowstone is the country's oldest National Park and covers more than 3,400 miles (larger than Rhode Island and Delaware put together).  As you drive through, you'll see some of the most varied, beautiful, and crazy landscapes ever.  You'll enjoy beautiful rolling hills, then turn a corner and be right in the middle of a stunning red rock cliff, then turn another corner and drive through white jagged rocks for a half mile.  There are huge lakes and lush green mountains that fall into hot springs and bubbling mud pots, and dessert-like spaces spewing water and steam.  One thing to note with Yellowstone is that your day will involve lots of driving (afterall, it's the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined!).

It's seriously like nothing you've ever seen (or will likely ever see anywhere but here).  I cut down hundreds of pictures to the ones included's a good number but worth it.  :)

We decided to start with the western part of the loop, first visiting the Upper Geyser Basin, where you'll find Old Faithful.  There are miles of boardwalk paths that loop by lots of geysers and bubbling hot springs.  Old Faithful erupts approximately every 91 minutes, so as you walk around, just make sure you're back in time or you'll have a long wait before you see the most popular geyser spew again!  We were lucky enough to catch another geyser erupting, Castle Geyser, and a few others "spitting", which you'll see below.

Castle Geyser in the background


old faithful geyser yellowstone
Old Faithful before it erupted

Old Faithful
We continued northwest (enter Kardashian joke here) and happened upon one of my favorite spots of the day - the Midway Geyser Basin - which featured the Excelsior Geyser Crater and the Grand Prismatic Spring.  Both are giant hot springs and have stunning colors.  As you walk around these, you'll be engulfed in (stinky) sulfur steam.  Mom said it felt like dragon breath.  This isn't one of the "biggies" at Yellowstone, but you should 100% stop and see it!

Excelsior Geyser Crater

Grand Prismatic Spring

Next up were the Paint pot stops!  First we went to the Fountain Paint Pots at the Lower Geyser Basin.  The "Paint Pots" are actually bubbling mud pots - their consistency is just like paint, and they're named for the different colors of mud found around the park (reds, yellows, browns).  Also in this area was a pretty awesomely loud fumarole (which blows steam), and another geyser just spritzing away.  We also got the best picture of the trip at this spot - Dad caught a mamma bird feeding her babies JUST at the right time.  I think you'll love it!

paint pots yellowstone

Clepsydra Geyser

The second "pot stop" was the Artist Paint Pots.  Here, there was also a boardwalk leading you to an aerial view of the whole space.  So neat!

mud pots yellowstone

yellowstone mud pots artist paintpots

Let's take a little break to look at some of the scenery on the way to Mammoth Hot Springs.

When we got to Mammoth Hot Springs it had started raining.  (Luckily, all the storms that came through while we were in Wyoming were very short.)  The Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces were formed from a combination of heat, water, limestone, and fractured rock that allowed that hot water to reach the Earth's surface.  The stair-stepped rock formations and colors are nothing like you've ever seen.  We also saw some wildlife on this stop - a baby deer and some elk sipping from a nearby stream!



mammoth hot springs
The Liberty Cap (rock formation created by a hot spring)
By this time, we'd reached the "top" of the Yellowstone loop and began our tour of the eastern part of the park.  On the way there, we saw an elk on the side of the road.

Once in the Hayden Valley, we started to see what Travis was most excited about - the bison!  We turned a corner and saw that traffic was backed up.  As we made our way around another corner, we saw why - a giant bison had crossed the street and was grazing right on the side of the road!  Needless to say, I rolled down the window and snapped a few pictures.  :)  He was so close to us I could have almost reached out and touched him (of course I'd never want to).  My super-long-arm'd brother could have easily reached him.
Right after we passed our first bison, the bottom fell out.  Thankfully it was a relatively short storm (which included a little frozen precipitation...crazy...) and we were rewarded with a beautiful rainbow!  There were TONS of bison in the Valley, as you'll see in the pictures below.  As plentiful as cows in the south!

The last stop for the day was the "Black Dragon Caldron" and the "Mud Volcano".  More sulfur...more bubbling mud.

One thing to check on, if when you take a trip to Yellowstone, are traffic issues.  We tallied up that construction both to and in Yellowstone added about 2 hours to our trip.  There really isn't any way around it, but you should check so you can plan your day accordingly.

Stay tuned for more vacation pictures!


  1. INCREDIBLE pictures Lauren!!!!!!! That settles it, I am going to Yellowstone within one year from today, I swear!!! These pictures all came out beautifully!!

  2. Lauren, I feel so blessed to take this virtual trip with you. Your pictures are absolutely indescribable. There is nothing so beautiful as God's creation. Thank you for sharing. Faye

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