return road trip day 03: yellowstone national park

Since we decided to go to Yellowstone National Park, we set off early from Bozeman. Ran a few errands first — oil change for car, staples, shopping for sandwiches, mcdonalds breakfast. The drive to the west entrance of YNP was through trees and valleys. We passed by Big Sky where I got a map and some helpful hints from the staff at the information center.

ynp01falls

Fee for YNP was $25 per vehicle, valid for 7 days. What a bargain. We followed an anti-clockwise loop, first stop was Madison (9 o’clock) and photo op at Madison river, then a small detour to Firehole Falls. That set the tone for the rest of our visit.

ynp03biscuit

Next on the loop was the geyser area. The first few geysers were too crowded, no parking available. We were able to find parking at biscuit basin. The colours were spectacular there, with 3 small blue pools of the clearest blue colour, the water flowed to yellow and orange and brown caused by sulphur.

ynp04faithful

One of the highlights in YNP was Old Faithful geyser. By the time we reached there it was 2.30pm. The car park was completely full. I jumped out and joined the hundreds of people sitting around the area waiting. Within 5-10mins someone shouted “it’s starting” and true enough, the geyser blew a high pillar of steam into the sky. Everyone scrambled for their cameras. After the show, which lasted about 5mins, we went into the shop. At the back of the cashier was a notice that said they predicted the geyser will blow +/- 10mins of 2.50pm, so we were just in time.

ynp05lake

It was around 4pm when we stopped a picnic table at pumice point along the shore of the yellowstone river for a late lunch of ham and cheese sandwiches. It was so quiet and peaceful there, just watching the lake and then a lone fisherman came by casting his line.

ynp06dragon

After the lake we headed to fishing bridge but didn’t stop. The next stop was at mud volcano and the oddly mesmerising dragon mouth. A huge mass of steam blew out from a cave as a result of volcanic activity inside. The combination of water waves and steam made a roaring sound that was like the roar of a dragon.

ynp07canyonfalls

The destination was canyon village and a short ways along the south rim drive were views of the canyon and the lower falls. The red colours of the canyon walls were also quite spectacular.

ynp08valley

By that time we knew we had to head out of the park. We drove through some treacherous narrow steep roads and descended into the lamar valley. Pretty sunset views of the valley and wildflowers.

ynp09bison

We saw wild animals in the park. An elk, a bear and several herds of bison. We had a bison cross the road in front of the car and another bison walking along the middle yellow line towards our car. They were so close we could have reached out and touched them.

We left the park at almost 9pm. Drove through some difficult roads to reach Cody. The bad news was there there were absolutely no hotel rooms at Cody. Desperate times called for desperate means. We continued driving another 130 miles and made it to Sheridan at 3am. Thankfully the Best Western had vacancies. I showered, downloaded pictures and was in bed around 3.45am. Thank you to Carleen for driving all day in the park, and then driving the long dark route to Sheridan.