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A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

Tag: Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone’s Southern Geysers

Pool in West Thumb Basin

After our drive through Grand Teton National Park, we headed back to Yellowstone to see the southernmost geysers and hot springs in the park. On our previous geyser basin day, we visited Norris, Upper, and Midway Geyser Basins. That left West Thumb and Old Faithful left to be explored.

The West Thumb Geyser Basin was probably the most interesting geyser basin in the park. Located on the south shore of Yellowstone Lake, this area is one of the least explored sections of the park. Its location along the shores of the lake makes it stand out from all the geyser basins in the park and makes for interesting landscape photos. Unlike Midway or even Norris, it was not hard that hard to find a parking spot at West Thumb in the middle of the day.

Fishing ConeWhile all the other geothermal features in the park are on land, West Thumb Geyser Basin is the place to see geysers in the water. Walking the boardwalk at West Thumb several cones can be seen steaming out in the lake. One of the most famous is Fishing Cone. Back in the day when fishing was allowed on Yellowstone Lake, anglers used to dip their catch in Fishing Cone to cook it. Nowadays, fishing in the lake is but it does create a funny mental picture.

We saved the most famous geyser basin in the park for last. Upper Geyser Basin is home to the world renowned Old Faithful and this area is home to not only the Old Faithful Inn where we stayed, but the Old Faithful Lodge, and the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. This area of the park is built for capacity and it seemed like parking was available any time of the day.

Cone GeyserWith over 1,300 documented geysers, The Upper Geyser Basin has the largest concentration of geysers in the world. With six miles of boardwalk, you could probably take a whole day just to explore the geothermal features around Old Faithful. Add on a five-mile loop and you can avoid the traffic and walk to the nearby Biscuit Basin.

It seemed like no matter what time of day it was, people crowded around to watch Old Faithful. The park publishes eruption times for Old Faithful (give or take ten minutes) and there is even a clock in the Old Faithful Inn that gives you the estimated time. If you want to visit one of the Old Faithful gift shops, do so right before the geyser erupts to beat the crowds. And once again, I highly recommend staying at least one night at the Old Faithful Inn, where you can sit out on the mezzanine and watch Old Faithful with your own chair and not jammed in elbow to elbow with strangers. That alone was worth the price for me!

I think I have finally reached the end of my Yellowstone coverage. Check back next week as I head north to Glacier National Park! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Geysers Pinterest Graphic

Geysers Pinterest Graphic

Yellowstone: Mammoth and Canyon in One Day

Mammoth Hot Springs

Steam coming off Mammoth Hot Springs

This post contains a lot of information about driving around Yellowstone. Here is a link to a map of the park, that will probably be a helpful reference while you read about our first day in Yellowstone.

Our first day in Yellowstone, we came into the park from Cody. I really believe this played a hand in our ability to see so much of the park in just one day. Unlike the west entrance, there was no line coming in from the east side of the park. The first point of interest coming in this way is Yellowstone Lake and the Fishing Bridge area. This is one of the lesser-visited parts of the park and it felt like we were the only people around for miles.

Clouds over Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake (above) is a sight to behold. Situated at 7700 feet above sea level and taking up 132 square miles, Yellowstone Lake is the largest high elevation lake in North America. Because of the large surface area, sudden gusts of wind can create large waves making open water crossings of the lake very challenging. Because of that and the cold water temperatures, boating on Yellowstone Lake is not incredibly common.

Grand Canyon of the YellowstoneFrom Fishing Bridge, we headed north to Canyon Village and one of my must-sees, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. There is a very large parking area in the canyon area and we had no trouble finding a spot to park.  One of the best views of the falls can be found at the Artist Point trailhead (left). I love how even unedited photos of the waterfall look like a watercolor painting. This is one of the most popular areas to hike in the park with plenty of hiking trails for all abilities. For more information about hiking in Yellowstone, visit NPS.gov.

The color of the rock makes The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone one of the most unique waterfalls I have ever seen. At one time a geyser basin was located at what is now the base of the waterfall. The heat and chemical activity of those geysers created rhyolite, a soft and brittle rock. The rhyolite reacts to oxygen in the air and in effect, the canyon walls are rusting, which gives it that unique yellow color.

From Canyon, we headed toward Mammoth. The drive through that part of the park felt longer than going from Lake to Canyon, but maybe it was just that there isn’t anything to stop and see from Norris to Mammoth. I’m not sure if this is normally the route you would take to get from one area to another, but the road from Tower/Roosevelt to Canyon was closed for construction in 2021.

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs (top and right) was another feature on my Yellowstone Must-See list. I had seen photos of the unique, stair-like geothermal feature and wanted to see it for myself. The water in the springs container calcium carbonate that over time cools and creates these unique rock formations. It was interesting walking around and seeing how the pools have shifted over time, as evidenced by forests of dead trees with white, calcified bases.

Bear and Two Cubs

From Mammoth, we headed to Tower/Roosevelt and this is where we encountered our biggest “jam” of our time in the park. This time, instead of elk, it was a mother bear with two cubs (viewed from a safe distance, of course, and with a ranger standing by with bear spray). It was super cool to see these wild animals through a zoom lens. It was definitely better than seeing them at the zoo!

After our bear encounter, we headed out the Northwest Entrance of the park to Gardiner for dinner. Be sure to stop back next week as I share about our day of exploring geysers and hot springs!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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