Yellowstone Day 2: Site Seeing on the East Side
After spending the previous day driving, walking out in the hot sunshine and doing insane evening hiking, our intention was to take it a bit easier on Yellowstone Day 2. Ha Ha Ha
Mammoth Hot Springs
We started the day with an early morning (7:30 am) excursion of Mammoth Hot Springs. Instead of parking at the base of the springs, we parked at the top, in the Upper Terrace parking. We then walked all the way down and around the hot springs…and back up. This was a great way to see this amazing natural phenomenon. Not only were there very few people out, but it was still a little cool and quiet.
Once we made it back to the top, we hopped into the truck and drove the Upper Terrace Drive. This drive is beautiful, and only a couple of miles long. From below, you cannot tell how big, or how far back into the mountain the Hot Springs actually go.
The Petrified Tree
On of the potential downsides to travelling in Yellowstone, is that there isn’t a whole lot of cell service. We hadn’t had any since early morning of Day 1, and I knew that Papa C was wondering how it was all going. The Petrified Tree, while being a very interesting site to see, is also a place for decent cell service.
As luck would have it, it was also the place of our third Bear siting. I didn’t get pictures, as she and her cubs were sleeping in the shade of a tree. We could, however, watch her through the binoculars.
The views of Tower Falls are almost as impressive as those at the Yellowstone Canyon. We went out to the main viewing platform, which was really crowded. So, we hiked down the hill to the lower viewing platform.
Tower Falls is a convenient place to get a bite to eat, or something to drink. They also have running water bathrooms and some shaded seating. We enjoyed a break from the heat with an ice cream and a little shaded rest after our hike.
North Rim of Yellowstone Canyon
It was mid-day by the time we reached the North rim. We ended up parking in the first part of the parking lot, which is the furthest away from the look outs. So, we hiked the North Rim trail, to the look outs. Then hiked up to the top look out. The top look out is the the most easily accessed. From here you have good views of the lower falls. We also had the fortune of seeing a nesting osprey.
You can also hike down to a lower viewing platform, which does have better views of the falls. The hike is about a mile down, and criss-crosses a little tumbling stream.
South Rim of Yellowstone Canyon
You can look across the canyon, from the North rim, and see a steep set of stairs hanging on the South rim. Of course, my son wanted to go over there and do that hike. We found the South rim road and headed on over there. Now, everyone should know their limits. I knew that I did not want to climb back up those stairs. So, I let him go and I hiked a little bit of the rim trail and checked out the views from the main viewing platforms.
The trail he hiked is call Uncle Tom’s trail. From the South rim, the trail goes down several steep switch backs, before you get to the 328 stairs that are bolted to the canyon wall. My son realized he is a little afraid of heights while he made the descent.
The original trail that Uncle Tom built had over 500 stairs, and some rope ladders for your viewing pleasure. I cannot even imagine what that would be like…precariously balancing on a rope ladder over a rushing river!
Finishing out Yellowstone Day 2
After all of that hiking in the heat, we were ready to call it a day. We headed back up North to Mammoth Hot Spring, cleaned up and enjoyed a little dinner at the Mammoth Hot Springs Grill. The Elk Mamas showed off their babies, as we made our way back to the campground.
Every trip to Yellowstone is different from the ones before. You never can tell what you are going to see and experience, or what the weather is going to be like. This trip, we mostly packed jackets and hats, but it turned out to be hot and sunny. When we went in June 1993, we packed more summery clothes, and got close to a foot of snow.
As with any other type of attraction, you have to be flexible in your plans and be patient. We had contingent camping plans on Day 1, just in case we couldn’t get a site in the campground that we had chosen. Besides, you never can tell when a herd of buffalo are going to cross the road, or when you are going to stumble across an erupting geyser. Yellowstone is a fascinating place, that holds some of the most incredible natural wonders of the world. There are a people from all over the world who want to see them. So, be patient and respectful so the experience can be enjoyed by all.