Go See Do Photography

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

Tag: Yellowstone

Wordless Wednesday: Norris Geyser Black & White

Norris Geyser Basin Black & White

Epic National Park Road Trip Recap

Tetons

Whew! It only took six months, but I have finished the recap of our epic 3-week trip out west! This trip taught us a lot, especially about what we need to work on the road. Of course, we saw some amazing sites and the ones that I can’t wait to return to may surprise you!

For most of this trip, the weather was much hotter than I had expected. I feel like I wrote the phrase, “we were planning on hiking at X, but it was too hot” at least five times throughout the recap of this trip. The middle week at Yellowstone and Glacier was really the only one where it wasn’t oppressively hot. I would love more time to explore Badlands and Theodore Roosevelt without dying of heatstroke.

One thing that really surprised me through my recapping this trip is that three days in Yellowstone really seemed to be enough to see the highlights. Yes, with more time we could’ve gotten off the beaten path and explored some of the backcountry, but I feel like I saw what I wanted to see. I would love to return to Yellowstone someday, but it’s not going to be high up on my list.

On the other hand, with three days at Glacier, we barely scratched the surface. Yes, we managed to visit each of the areas in the park, but we were only able to do a few short hikes. I would love to go back later in the season and spend more time in the Many Glacier area and maybe even hike to Grinnel Glacier. I will definitely do my planning in advance to get a room at the Many Glacier Hotel!

Mountain in the Clouds

But the area that I really want to return to is South Dakota’s Black Hills. The other day, I was trying to figure out if we could manage a camping trip to Custer State Park next summer (no, I don’t think we can). Even though we had a full week there, it didn’t feel like enough! Of all the stunning National Parks we visited on this trip, it’s funny to me that this is the place that stands out the most in my memory.

I know I have mentioned this a few times already, but if you are looking to stay inside a National Park, lodging can be found less than a year out as long as you are flexible. I still hear people saying “I didn’t plan this trip a year in advance so I know I’m not going to be able to get a room in the park” and that is just not true. Keep checking for cancellations and subscribe to the park’s email list. We got our room at Rising Sun Motor Inn two months out and Old Faithful Inn two weeks out. Don’t give up!

Needles Highway

This was the first trip we took where Chris was working remotely and we learned a lot from that too. If you are working remotely from a hotel with at least one other person, spring for a suite with a door that closes. It was really nice when we were at the Roosevelt Inn and Suites in North Dakota and I was able to go in the bedroom and close the door when he was in meetings. Country Inn and Suites is a chain hotel that has this feature as well. The full kitchen at Roosevelt was nice to prepare lunches while he was working too. An AirBNB would also be good for this purpose.

Alright, I think that’s all I have to say about this trip! Check back next week when I share about some of our other explorations this summer!

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 Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

2021: Year in Review

Logan Pass

Glacier National Park in June

2021 goes down as one of our best travel years yet. Despite COVID and all the precautions that go along with it, we were still able to get out there and explore these United States. Yes, my passport has been gathering some dust (that’s the nature of traveling during a pandemic) but I was able to see some sites this year that I have been dreaming about for a long time!

This year started off with a bang, and by bang, I mean snow and a cold snap in Texas.  We tasted Texas wine and visited the home of a former president. Of course, the fun was only just beginning when our connecting flight got canceled and we were stuck in Orlando for two days! This whole ordeal still has me kind of nervous to fly. Not so nervous that I won’t do it, but nervous enough that I build in extra time and buy trip insurance before I get on a plane.

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring – Yellowstone National Park

Of course, in 2021 we took the biggest trip of our lives spanning three weeks. We visited 7 national parks, 4 other National park service sites, and 4 state parks spanning 12 states (8 of which were new to us). We saw Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, and Glacier, places I have been dreaming about seeing for myself for a long time. It was a wonderful journey, but I hope I can say that it wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime trip. I want to continue traveling like that and seeing all the places that make America beautiful!

Disney World 50th Anniversary

I don’t know if I can call the big trip the highlight of the year though, because I also got to be in the Magic Kingdom on October 1 for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World. This has been a dream of mine for the last 10 years. It was a whirlwind trip where we had a hotel room we barely saw and got by mainly on caffeine. We also got to see Galaxy Edge in Disney Hollywood Studios. I know it’s not super new, but this was the first time I had seen it. I’m not a Star Wars fan, but I have to say, it was so cool! I still have to recap it officially on the blog, so that is all I will say about it for now. Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks for the details!

Runaway Camper Setup

We took some weekend trips around Michigan in the spring and summer and spent some time in our new mini camper. We finally kayaked out to Turnip Rock and walked across the Mackinac Bridge on Labor Day. We have some big plans for 2022 as well! I can’t wait!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about our latest 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 Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Cone Geyser

Cone Geyser

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: Hot Springs and Geysers

Grand Prismatic Spring

Colors of Grand Prismatic Spring

Yellowstone National Park is known for its geysers, the most famous of course being Old Faithful. We spent our second day in the park seeing as many geysers and hot springs as we could. The geyser basins are crisscrossed by boardwalk trails to allow you to see the geothermal features safely. One thing I didn’t know before visiting Yellowstone is that geysers and hot springs smell like sulfur. Looking at these photos is bringing the smell back to me!

Steam coming off Grand Prismatic SpringWe started the day with the Angel Falls trail to the Grand Prismatic Spring overlook. Grand Prismatic is another iconic location in the park. It was funny, driving around the park and seeing all of the Cruise America RVs with a picture of it on the side. I’ve wanted to see Grand Prismatic since I saw a picture of it in my geography class in college. Years later, I forgot what it was called and tried to figure out where it was by googling “rainbow pond” (true story). The overlook is the best way to get a birds-eye view of the spring. The spring was very steamy when we got up there so, that was disappointing. Probably the most upsetting thing about it was going home and all my Facebook friends going to Yellowstone and posting their beautiful, clear, Grand Prismatic shots. If we had more time in the park, we probably would’ve tried again. At least the pictures from later in the day on the boardwalk (top) made up for it!

Emerald Spring in Norris Geyser Basin

Emerald Spring in Norris Geyser Basin

After the hike, we headed to the Norris Geyser Basin. Two and a quarter miles of boardwalks take you around seven geysers and nine hot springs in the Norris Geyser Basin. While lesser-known, Norris is the hottest and oldest of Yellowstone’s thermal areas. Steamboat Geyser is one of the most popular features in this area and is the tallest geyser in the world. Its eruptions are unpredictable but it has begun to erupt more often in recent years.

View from Artists Paint Pots

View from Artists Paint Pots

From Norris, we made a stop at the more obscure Artist Paint Pots. While interesting to look at, these bubbling mud pots are not very photogenic. But, a walk through this area is a way to get away from the crowds you will find at the other geyser basins. It is also a good spot to get a view of the Tetons (above).

Clepsydra Geyser

Clepsydra Geyser in the Lower Geyser Basin

Next, we headed to the Lower Geyser Basin. At twelve square miles, the lower basin is huge with the geothermal features scattered around in small groups. Mud pots, geysers, hot springs, pools, and fumaroles abound in this basin. Great Fountain Geyser is one of the highlights of the area and Clepsydra  Geyser (above) is fun to photograph because of its almost constant stream of water, 10-40 feet in the air.

Texture around Grand Prismatic Spring

After Lower Geyser Basin, we figured it was late enough in the day to explore Midway Geyser Basin without too much of a crowd. Being home to Grand Prismatic Spring (right), Midway can get very crowded and parking can be near impossible in the middle of the day. After getting an acceptable view of the iconic spring, we had walked over ten miles and I was ready to head back to the Old Faithful Inn and enjoy watching Old Faithful erupt one last time before heading to bed.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check back next week when I detail our drive through Grand Teton 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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Wordless Wednesday: Yellowstone Bears

Mother Bear and Two Cubs

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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Mammoth Hot SpringsPinterest Graphic Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Pinterest Graphic

Yellowtone National Park Overview

Bison in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park was the world’s first national park and was signed into law by Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 to protect the otherworldly landscape that is Yellowstone. Located in northwestern Wyoming and spanning into Idaho and southern Montana the park encompasses 3,400 square miles, and is larger than the state of Rhode Island. It is separated into distinct geological areas formed by geothermal features unlike anything I had ever seen. From the sprawling Yellowstone Lake to hot springs and geysers and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, you could spend weeks in the park and not see everything. Ever since we were driving around Yellowstone, I have been trying to figure out how I am going to recap this enormous park!

We only had three days to see as much of the park as we could. Of course, I wanted to hit the highlights: Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Surprisingly, in such a short time, we were able to see everything we had hoped to and more.

Old Faithful InnStaying in the park helped us tremendously. Driving in and out of the park can take away 2 or more hours of your time and when you are battling the record number of visitors that are coming through the gates in 2021, you need all the time you can get. While exploring the park, we heard many people say that you cannot get a room at the Yellowstone Lodges unless you book a year in advance. We managed to get our room at the Old Faithful Inn two weeks in advance. Just keep checking and it helps to subscribe to the Yellowstone National Park Lodges newsletter. They sent out a newsletter that they were opening up more rooms for the 2021 season and I was able to snatch one up before they were gone.

Staying at the Old Faithful Inn (above) was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. The Inn was built in 1904 from locally sourced materials including lodgepole pine. We stayed in one of the Old House rooms that has walls made of logs. Staying in that (admittedly small) room, you really got a sense of the history of the place. The GyPSy guide called the Old Faithful Inn the only building in the park that feels like it belongs. The Disney Nerd in me understands now where the idea for the Wilderness Lodge came from. Probably the best part of staying at the Inn is sitting out on the Mezzanine and watching Old Faithful erupt without having to be crowded around strangers and enjoying a drink.

Walkway at Mud Volcano

Walkway at Mud Volcano just before the rain

Another trick we learned when visiting the park in the summer was to leave in the middle of the day. The parking lots filled up and it got hot, so we headed to one of the towns outside the park for food and air conditioning. Then, we headed back into the park as the day guests were leaving for the day and we explored until the sun went down. We also got lucky with the weather. Our first day in the park was forecasted to thunderstorm most of the day and I think this kept some visitors out. We managed to time it so we were driving when the worst of the rain was coming down and we managed to see most of what we wanted to on that first day.

Now that I’ve given you a little overview and some tips for making the most of your time at Yellowstone, next week I will begin to recap the highlights of the park! 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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Yellowstone Pinterest Graphic Yellowstone Pinterest Graphic

Epic National Park Road Trip

For the benefit and enjoyment of the people

We are back from our biggest trip yet. We were gone for 23 days, visiting 7 national parks, 4 other National park service sites, and 4 state parks spanning 12 states (8 of which were new to us). We had incredible luck on the trip securing a reasonably priced rental car and managing to score last-minute reservations at two incredibly popular national park lodges. To top off our luck, the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National park opened for the season on the day we needed to use it to get from one end of the park to the other.

This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip during the busiest summers for our National Parks ever! Throughout this trip report, I will share our experiences with the crowds and ways to avoid the worst of the congestion.

Here’s a little breakdown of the trip and a sneak peek of what is to come throughout this trip report:

  1. Ottowa, IL
  2. Dakota Dunes, SD
  3. Custer, SD
  4. Old Faithful Inn
  5. Rising Sun Motor Inn
  6. Watford City, ND
  7. Moorhead, MN & Madison, WI

We did SO much on this trip, this will probably take me months to recap, but I am looking forward to it! Thanks for stopping by!  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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