Travel Journal: Yellowstone Day 1, June 2017

Travel Journal Yellowstone Day 1Yellowstone Day 1: The Plan

The plan for the Yellowstone Day 1 was:

  1. Head out early
  2. Drive across the Lamar Valley, and keep an eye out for a possible wolf siting
  3. Continue our drive across to the West side of the park
  4. Get a site at the Norris Campground
  5. Set up camp and spend the rest of the day site seeing

The actuality of the Yellowstone Day 1 was:

  1. Head out early
  2. Drive across the Lamar Valley, and keep an eye out for a possible wolf siting
    1. Not only did we get to see a couple of wolves (with the super high powered binoculars), we also enjoyed a Moose siting!

      Yellowstone Moose
      Yellowstone Moose – Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park
  3. Continue our drive across to the West side of the park
    1. Complete with the first Bear siting of the trip

      Bear Siting
      Bear Siting near Dunraven Pass, Yellowstone National Park
  4. Stand in line at the Norris Campground, only to find out that they don’t really know how many sites they will have available for the day….
  5. Drive to Mammoth Campground, walk up and get a campsite ūüôā ¬†*This actually turned out to be the better choice, as the area around Norris was still very wet and there were quite a few mosquitoes encountered while we stood in line.
  6. Set up camp, and head out to see sites for the rest of the day

Yellowstone Day 1: The Sites

As we were camping at the North end of Yellowstone, we decided to spend Day 1 visiting the sites on the West side of the park.

The (not so) Roaring Mountain
The (not so) Roaring Mountain, Yellowstone National Park
Roaring Mountain

We stopped at the pull off for Roaring Mountain, which has a couple of Fumaroles that steam away. However, in the late 1800’s when the park was first being explored, they could occasionally be heard four miles away!

Norris Geyser Basin

Our next stop was to see the Norris Geyser Basin. Alas, we circled the parking lot three times, without being able to get a parking spot, so moved on.  Traveling around the park requires one to be flexible with plans and schedules.  You never know when a buffalo herd is going to block up traffic, or when a certain feature is going to be popular.  Just go with the flow.

Artist’s Paint Pots

As we continued southward, we stopped at the Artist’s Paint Pots. ¬†A short hike, took us around a gorgeous basin, past a small spouting geyser (Blood Geyser, named for the red rocks around it), beautiful pools, and to the bubbling mud pots at the top. ¬†This one little site has it all. ¬†On a side note, this stop is not on the official National Park map, so you will need to look for the little signs next to the road.

Artists Paint Pots, Yellowstone National Park
Artists Paint Pots, Yellowstone National Park
Gibbon Falls

Next up, Gibbon Falls.  I saw these falls when I was in Yellowstone last fall, and wanted to see them in spring, with the extra water from the spring run off.  They did not disappoint.

Gibbon Falls Yellowstone National Park
Gibbon Falls, Yellowstone National Park
Fountain Paint Pots

From the road, we could see a geyser spouting off at the Fountain Paint Pots, so we just had to pull over and go see it.  Much to our surprise, it was a brand new geyser, that had only been spouting off for a few days.

Fountain Paint Pots, Yellowstone National Park
Fountain Paint Pots, New Geyser, Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful Geyser Basin

We decided to drive past the other roadside geyser basins, and head right for Old Faithful.  We made it with just 20 minutes to spare, before the next eruption.  Just enough time to use the facilities, and enjoy a few minutes of shade.  The weather on this day was close to 90 with a clear sky.  You just never can tell what the weather in Yellowstone is going to be like.

After watching Old Faithful for a few minutes, we headed into the Cafeteria building to beat the crowd to the ice cream counter.  We enjoyed some very nice strawberry frozen yogurt, before heading out to walk the Old Faithful Geyser basin.

My favorite feature in this basin is the Morning Glory Pool. ¬†I love all of the beautiful colors. ¬†The bright sunshine, and warmer weather made this pool, and the other ones really come to life with brilliant colors. ¬†As a side note, don’t forget to look beyond the geysers and pools. ¬†We were also fortunate enough to see an Osprey flying around, a resting Elk and a tiny Frog (as big as my thumb nail) making a ruckus in the pond.

Old Faithful Geyser Basin Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful Geyser Basin Yellowstone National Park
Back to Camp

It was early evening by the time we finished exploring the Old Faithful Geyser Basin, so our intention was to just head straight back to camp. ¬†We still had a good 30-45 minutes of driving, if we didn’t encounter any slow downs…

No sooner did we make it out to the main road, when the local buffalo herd decided to complete their evening migration to a different pasture.  We sat on the roadway for a good 15 minutes, with buffalo streaming by right next to the car, before a park ranger came up and made us a hole.

Evening Buffalo Migration, Yellowstone National Park
Evening Buffalo Migration, Yellowstone National Park

Closer to Mammoth Hot Springs, we got our second Bear siting of the trip.  A beautiful mama Grizzly with her baby.

Grizzly Bears, Yellowstone National Park
Grizzly Bears, Yellowstone National Park
Evening Hike

Now, you would think that after that day, we would be eager to just have a little dinner and refreshment.  Well, we did just that.  However, after eating and cleaning up the dishes, I decided that I needed to go for a little walk.  I grabbed the little bit of garbage that we had, and announced that I was going to stretch my legs and walk up to the dumpsters.  My son readily agreed to go with.

As we were walking back, he noticed that there was a sizable hill, with a trail made straight to the top of it. ¬†Long story short, in the sunset hour of the evening, we walked over and hiked to the top of that hill. ¬†The views were amazing!!! ¬†But we didn’t stop there, we hiked down the back side, up another hill, down again, across the sage brush field and up to the official trail head. ¬†I really wish I had brought my pedometer with…

Evening Hiking, Yellowstone National Park
Evening Hiking, Yellowstone National Park

 

As you can imagine, after all of the adventures of Yellowstone Day 1, we slept well!

In case you missed it, you can go back and read about Getting There, the first installment of this Travel Journal series.

*Please note that all photos are my own, please do not copy or reproduce without my permission.*

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4 thoughts on “Travel Journal: Yellowstone Day 1, June 2017

  1. Wonderful blog. Very informative and well written.

    • Thank you Marla!

  2. Love this. Pinned and shared on all my Group Travel Boards that I belong to. How exciting to see the bears!

    • So Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for letting me, and others know ūüôā

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