We left Grand Tetons National Park around 7 AM, and hit the road to Yellowstone National Park. It’s a fairly simple drive to Yellowstone, just simply driving north out of the Tetons which took us about two hours. We had read a lot of recent posts and stories about Yellowstone being TOO busy. Since we didn’t really plan ahead for this trip, I was worried we may get there and have to wait in a long line to get into the park and then not get a camp site. So, before we left Denver we got online and reserved one of the last camping spots available in the park at Grant Village Campground. This was the only National Park we planned ahead for as far as camping arrangements. We arrived in Yellowstone around 9:00 AM, not knowing what the park entrance lines would be like but we were pleasantly surprised. We parked in the Old Faithful lot and headed over to the Visitor Center. Along the way we passed Old Faithful which is front and center in this area. There was a sign that showed Old Faithful should blow in the next two hours. So, we went into the visitor center and took a walk around all the geysers in the area to kill some time before the Old Faithful would blow. Old Faithful erupts every 35 to 120 minutes for 1 1/2 to 5 minutes. Its maximum height ranges from 90 to 184 feet. It is not the biggest or the most regular geyser in Yellowstone but it is the biggest regular geyser. I found it so fascinating that Old Faithful is on a schedule as are many of the other geysers in the park.
My favorite part about this park was how easily accessible all of the areas are. Although that can be frustrating with the crowds, we were really fortunate in not having to deal with too many people. It was awesome that you can follow the walk ways all around the park and be so close to the geysers. It’s very unfortunate that so many people don’t follow the posted signs that say stay on the walk way for safety reasons. The week before we arrived someone took it upon themselves to step off the boardwalk and take a selfie with the geyser, and he sunk into the scolding hot water. Who needs an up close and personal selfie that BAD!?
We eventually made it to our camp which was roughly a 20 minute drive from Old Faithful. It was a great campsite, just a short walk to Yellowstone Lake. The nice thing about this campsite area was on our way out of town we were able to stop at the showers. There’s showers, laundry, ice, and gas easily accessible for any vehicle.
Once camp was set up, we hopped in the car to drive around the park. It was incredible how much wildlife we spotted without getting out of the vehicle! We saw everything from a young bear trotting through a field only to notice a few feet in front of him running in another direction was a coyote. None of the animals seemed to care about the vehicles on the side of the road. As you’d expect at Yellowstone, there was endless amounts of buffalo roaming, eating, pooping, fighting. You know just living life! We had heard from groups of people that there was a pack of wolves with new babies that could be spotted running around chasing each other in one of the fields in the early morning. But, we unfortunately never had the opportunity to see this! Even though this park has the largest concentration of mammals in the US, I was still shocked at the amount of wild life that hung around the most populated areas of humans.
We packed up camp early and headed to the village to score a shower before getting on the road towards Mammoth Hot Springs. It was about a two hour drive to Mammoth Hot Springs from camp. The park can take quite a while to drive around since it’s such a large area and so spread out. We spent the day driving through Yellowstone, stopping in different areas to walk and check out different areas. There are five different village areas around Yellowstone that you can stop & check out. We stopped and took a short hike down Uncle Tom’s Trail, which takes you down 500 feet (328 steps to be exact), to a beautiful view of Lower Falls.
We headed up to Mammoth Hot Springs, which is on the far North end of the park located on the Montana/Wyoming border. Mammoth Hot Springs is a really special area with a lot of history once being home of the US Army who used to manage the park. You can walk around and check out Fort Yellowstone where 35 of the original structures still remain in town surrounding Mammoth Hot Springs. This areas is made up of some of the most amazing structures you will see around the park. I really enjoyed gawking at all the different formation on this side of the park. You will not be disappointed making the drive to this area and walking around the boardwalk.
We left the park in the late afternoon and headed North to Bozeman, Montana where we planned to stay the night at a friend’s house before heading up to Glacier National Park. If you decide to drive directly to Glacier it’s about a seven hour drive, so it’s nice to break it up and explore one of the surrounding cities in Montana.
Check out the short video I put together of some of the sites we saw at Yellowstone: