Monday, September 12, 2016

September 9, 10, 2016, Yellowstone National Park, Making a Wrong Turn, Driving Across Montana

September 9, 10, 2016, Yellowstone National Park, Making a Wrong Turn, Driving Across Montana

Right above the Grand Teton National Park is Yellowstone National Park, One of the crown jewels of the park system. Driving up Route 89 we drive past the Teton fire damage and enter Yellowstone along the Lewis River. It is a beautiful day and we stop along the road to look at the scenery. We have been in the northern end of the park but not in the south. Most of the sites that you have heard of are located more in the southern half of the park. Swinging to the left side we come to Old Faithful. This is a big area with a visitors center, Old Faithful Lodge and the famous Old Faithful Inn.

Yellowstone is a huge national park and gets a lot of visitors. We are here after labor day and the crowd is still huge. There must be between 1,500 and 2,000 people for each eruption of Old Faithful. This is our first time seeing Old Faithful. It erupts about every 94 minutes and sits in an area that actually has somewhere around 500 other geysers and hot springs. There are many grouped right in this area and then as you drive north you pass many others. Old Faithful is the big famous one that erupts on a regular basis but there are many others that are doing something. It is kind of a magical landscape. Steam is coming out all over the place.

What is a must to see if you visit here is the Old Faithful Inn. It is generally considered the largest log structure in the world. Built in 1903-4 with 327 rooms. The lobby is amazing going up like 4 floors. The ceilings are made of logs. It is an amazing structure and a must see.

Leaving Old Faithful we intended to drive up and over to the eastern side (Yellowstone Map) and visit the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone but missed the turn off. When we finally stopped and looked at the map we found that we were actually up near Mammoth Hot Springs and 5 miles from Montana. Whoops! By now it was getting to the end of the day and we were getting tired. Oh well new direction. We decided to drive out of the park and up to Livingston, MT for the night and head east from there. Livingston is about 50 miles outside the park, a short distance when driving in the west.  At Mammoth Hot Springs we did get to see a herd of elk that often come right into the visitor area every day. they are all over the place. Pretty amazing.

On a personal note I have found that I like the smaller parks and sites like Grand Teton better than the super parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. It is nice with less people. I would put Mt. Rainier and Glacier in the super park popular group but because they kind of limit the number of people that can actually move around in them they don't feel crazy. Yellowstone is huge and crowded. We did enter the northern side a couple of years ago and that was excellent but the southern side is packed with people. But don't let that stop you for seeing the parks, they are all amazing and beautiful. I find a big key for the parks is go early in the day and during the week. Avoid the weekends and holidays if possible. 

We stayed in Livingston, MT for the night and then the next day drove across Montana to a town called Glendive. Montana is huge and it was fun to be back in the state. It is one of the most geologically diverse states that we have been to. Desert, mountains, huge wheat fields, Badlands environments, national parks, the landscape is all over the place and beautiful everywhere.

Standing at the South Western Entrance to Yellowstone

Old Faithful Geyser erupting, every 94 minutes forever

One of the amazing canyon views on the road north

Elk gazing at Mammoth Hot Springs, unseen is a large herd to the left

On the way to Glendive, Go Have An Adventure, the theme of our trip