31 Today is another geyser day. We don’t know if we will catch Great Fountain Geyser on Firehole Lake Road, but were going to give it a try. We are right at the predicted eruption time and it could be +/- 2 hours. When we got here, it still hasn’t erupted. So we waited, it could be up to a 2 hour wait. We lucked out, about 5 minutes after we arrived, it started. It normally lasts about 45 minutes, but this time it was about 20 minutes. It did give us a great show though.
We continued on Firehole Lake Road to Firehole Lake, Steady geyser and Hot Lake. We did the boardwalks through them, and then headed over to the Old Faithful geyser area. We stopped at the visitor’s center but it was packed. Old Faithful had just erupted, so we know we have about 90 minutes before the next eruption.
So we headed around Old Faithful to the backside and the Observation Point hike. This is about a 2 mile hike with an elevation gain of about 160 feet. We saw a family of Marmots along the way. When we made it to the top we still have about 15-45 minutes before the next eruption. So we hung out and took in the view of the entire geyser basin. Beehive geyser was erupting and others were steaming. Old Faithful erupted on schedule. It erupted for about 7 minutes which is longer that usual. We enjoyed watching it from up here better than from down below. You get a different perspective.
We hiked back down and headed home. We stopped at Bullwinkle’s Bar for a couple cocktails and a little video poker. Now we’re done and heading home.
30 John is still on a mission to get to the top of Lionshead Mountain. This time, we drove up the forest road until it ended. Then John and I hiked up about a mile until I was ready to turn around. John continued on. He made it further than yesterday, but not to the top. He ended up doing about 5 miles round trip.
29 Today we were going to take a time out and hang out at the cow. John was being taunted by Lionshead Mountain which you can hike to right from our campground. I did have a time out day, played some harmonica and did some reading. John headed up hiking towards Lionshead. He made it about 4.5 miles up, 9 miles round trip, but still a long way from the top. There are some beautiful views of our entire area. He got back and wasn’t happy that the mountain beat him. We had some cocktails so he could drown his sorrow.
28 Happy B’Day John!!! We are heading to the Old Faithful area today. John is doing another long hike. I dropped him off at Kepler Cascades. This is a lovely waterfall. He headed off on the Lone Star Geyser Trail to hook up with the Howard Eaton Trail and then back to Old Faithful where I am meeting him. The Lone Star Geyser is not a predictable geyser but it tends to erupt every 3 hours or so. The cone is one of the parks largest. The eruptions are about 30-40 feet high and lasts about 15 minutes. When John got there, people were waiting for the eruption, John waited a bit, but then he was going to leave. Lone Start started coming to life, so he stayed.
I had already headed to Old Faithful area and I wanted to make it to see Grand. It was almost the predicted time, although Grand can go +/- 2 hours. I ended up having to wait around an hour. There were a couple false starts, and then it started. There are actually 5 geysers that erupt together. Three small, 2 medium and then Grand. Normally Grand eruptions are around 200 feet high and last about 20 minutes. It’s the worlds tallest predictable geyser. I lucked out. Just when it was settling down, one of the geyser gazers yelled out “get your cameras ready”. Grand erupted in a huge eruption and continued on for another 20 minutes. So I got a double dipper as they call it.
After it was over, I walked back to the visitor’s center and along the way I was treated to an Old Faithful eruption. Johns hike is about 8 miles today so he still has about another hour.
I was relaxing outside the visitors center and a family with a t-shirt from the “No Name Pub” on Big Pine Key in Florida sat down next to me. I started talking to them and the grandmother, Patti is one of the bartenders at the KOA on Sugarloaf Key next to Lazy Lakes. She said we’ve met and she’ll be back there this year. Small world we live in.
John made it back and we headed home We stopped at Rocky’s Nut House Bar then Bullwinkle’s for a couple drinks and some video poker. John wanted Chinese take out for dinner, so we picked some up and headed back to the cow.
I stayed up by the point, but John had to hike down the Uncle Tom’s Trail. This trail goes down over 500 feet into the canyon and there are 328 steps to get down, then of course, you have to come back up. While I was waiting for him a mule deer was close by me feeding of grasses. John then continued on to Artist Point and I hiked back to red and met him up there. This is a beautiful view of the falls and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I ended up hiking about 2.5 miles and John did about 8 miles.
26 Today we hung around the cow and did some projects, researched locations and campgrounds for when we leave here and did some reading.
25 John is in need of a big hike today. I dropped him off at the Cascade Lake Trailhead near Canyon. I was going to pick him up at Ice Lake. It ended up being longer than he anticipated about 8 miles. So he hike past Grebe and on to the Wolf Lake trailhead and called me on the walkie talkie. I took a walk around the Canyon visitor’s center and gift shop. Then I headed to the Grebe Lake picnic area. I relaxed, practiced harmonica and did some reading.
When I was headed over to Ice to pick up John, there was a wildlife traffic jam. It was a herd of over 200 bison about 30 feet off the road. Some would just run on the road and the babies were playing in the road. I couldn’t get good pictures since I was driving. After I picked up John, we headed home. He was ready for a relaxing evening.
24 We are heading to the Old Faithful Geyser area today. There are 5 geysers in this area that the park rangers make predictions for. They give the estimated eruption time, how often they erupt and a +/- time for the eruption. So if a geyser is set to erupt at noon +/- 2 hours, it could be anywhere from 10am until 2pm. So it’s difficult to see the geysers. They are:
Old Faithful – every 90 minutes +/- 10 minutes – eruptions average 150 feet high and last about 4 minutes.
Castle – every 14 hours +/- 1 hour – eruptions average 75 feet high and last about20 minutes.
Grand – every 7.5 hours +/- 2 hours – eruptions average 200 feet high and last about 10 minutes.
Daisy – every 2.5 hours +/- 30 minutes – eruptions average 75 feet high and last about 4 minutes.
Riverside – every 5 hours +/- 30 minutes – eruptions average 75 feet high and last about 20 minutes.
Great Fountain – 12 hours +/- 2 hours – eruptions average 100 feet high and last about 45 minutes.
Grand Fountain is on Firehole road and not in the Old Faithful Geyser area.
There are still geysers all over the place, just not predictable.
We parked near the Old Faithful Inn and took the bike path up to Castle. There is no prediction right now for Castle. We headed over the Firehole River to the boardwalk. We saw the very end of Grand Geyser. We continued on the boardwalk and went past the Beauty and Chromatic Pools, Past Oblong, Giant and Grotto Geysers. So far it’s really cool to see, but we haven’t seen any real eruptions yet.
We got to Riverside Geyser and people were waiting and so did we. We are really glad we did. Riverside gave us quite a show. We continued on and checked out Fan, Mortar and Spiteful but nothing was happening. We went past the Morning Glory Pool and on to Daisy Geyser. We waited for Daisy and it finally erupted. It’s not as big as Riverside, but it was still really cool to see.
As we were heading past Castle, it started spurting even though there was no prediction. It gave us a tremendous show. When we thought it was over, it started up again even more forceful. Even the ranger said this was a treat. It’s called a double dipper when they erupt twice.
Now we headed to see Old Faithful erupt. We are spoiled from seeing the other ones. Old Faithful is good and it’s Faithful. We are thirsty so we went to the Inn which is designed with beautiful woodwork. We had a couple cocktails on veranda at the Inn and watched Old Faithful erupt again. On the way home we had a Bison traffic jam. A huge bull bison was blocking the road. He finally moved and we were able to pass.
Our favorite geysers in order are – Castle, Grand, Riverside, Great Fountain, Daisy and Old Faithful.
23 We are having a domestic day today. We headed into town to give blood, pick up some groceries and then relaxed at the cow.
22 We are ready for another new area. We headed west and back into Idaho to explore Henry’s Lake and then to the Earthquake area from 1959. A 7.5 quake brought down a side of a mountain and closed off the Madison River for a time which formed Earthquake Lake. After going through the trails and reading the plaques, we continued on. Hebron Lake is a huge lake and not crowded because there is not a lot around here. We stopped at the happy hour bar for video poker and drinks. This is a nice little bar that is right on the water with a beautiful view. Now we continued on and back to west Yellowstone. We stopped at Wild West pizza for video poker and drinks then to Bullwinkle’s. Picket up dinner at KFC and headed home. We had some driving today but not too much.
21 We had a long driving day yesterday, so today we are staying around the campground. The ranger told us about some hiking and ATV trails right behind our campground so we headed out for a 3 mile hike. It’s a nice day, so we got our chairs set up and relaxed outside, got some sun and did some reading.
20 John was working on a problem we have with our water system. The intake valve needs to be replaced. So we got that part ordered then regrouped and headed out for a long game drive.
We are heading to Tower and the Lamar Valley area of Yellowstone Natl Park. This will be about a 75 mile each way game drive. This area is supposed to be great for wildlife sightings. Although, we have been very fortunate to have seen so much wildlife and up close. Shortly after getting in the park, there was an Elk traffic jam. There were 2 female elks right on the road.
As we continued on past Madison and Canyon, we started climbing up to Mt. Washburn. From here we could see the entire area, including the Grand Tetons over 100 miles away. Also, it’s basically spring here. The entire hillsides are blooming in wildflowers.
We were almost to Tower when there was a traffic jam with vehicles parked in the middle of the road. There was a Black Bear. She was a mom, because we saw her cub up in a tree. She was happy for a while, digging in the flowers and stomping on logs, then some people started getting to close to the tree her cub was in and she started getting upset. She sprinted up the hill to the base of the tree, then over a small hill. The people moved, but then went back. Stupid people.
We continued on and into the Lamar Valley. This is a wide open valley with deep forests on both sides and a river running through. It’s a beautiful area. We saw hundreds of bison including babies just running around having fun. We saw elks and pronghorns. We found a nice place to park and open the tailgate. We brought sandwiches and stuff for dinner, so we relaxed, had sandwiches, a couple beers and watched for wildlife. We started to head back around 730pm. Even though it’s only 75 miles, it’s about a 2 ½ hour drive back. We did see 2 big bull elk between Norris and Madison. These were huge, the sun had set and there was still some light but not enough for pictures.
We got back to West Yellowstone around 10pm and stopped at Dairy Queen for a nightcap blizzard.
Wildlife Sightings – Elk, Bull Elks, Bison, Whistle Pigs, White Tailed Deer, Pronghorn and a Mama Black Bear and Cub.
19 John needs another big hike today. We headed close by to the Madison area of Yellowstone. I dropped him off at the trailhead for the Purple Mountain Trail. This is a 6 mile trail with a 1600 foot elevation climb that took him to the top of Purple Mountain. From here John got some beautiful pictures of the surrounding area, including the Madison River and the Grand Tetons off in the distance about 100 miles away. I headed to the picnic area for some reading and relaxing. When John was starting his descent, he heard a mayday distress call on the walkie talkie. He called me and I went to report it to the rangers. Hopefully the person is ok. On the way home we stopped to see the Elk family that hangs around the river. They were just lounging. We regrouped and headed into town. We stopped at Bullwinkle’s for a cocktail and a little video poker, then to Wild West for pizza.
18 Today we are taking another time out day and just hanging around the cow.
17 We decided to head back to the Canyon Area today. We took the one way North Rim Drive. Once again we had some rain and hail, but we waited about 10 minutes and it did clear up and became a perfect day.
We stopped at Brink of the Lower Falls and John did the ¾ mile hike down to the lower falls. I didn’t do it because it was 600 feet down and then 600 feet back up. Now John hiked along the rim trail and I met him at Lookout and Red Rock Point. I stayed up at Lookout and checked out the Osprey nest the ranger was discussing. John hiked the Red Rock Point Trail. This is another trail that’s ¾ mile, and a 600 foot down and back up trail. We both hiked up to Grand View. This is just a beautiful view of the multiple falls and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. John continued on the North Rim Trail another 2 miles and I met him at Inspiration Point Overlook.
We were going to go explore the South Rim, but we don’t have enough time today, so we headed home for a nice dinner and a relaxing evening.
16 Today we are heading back to the Geyser Area. On our way to the Biscuit Basin, the thunder and rain came and so we drove on Firehole Drive and waited for about 45 minutes to see what the weather was going to do. John took a nap and I did some reading in the truck. It cleared up so we headed to Biscuit Basin and the Mystic Falls Trail. I did the 2 ½ mile part of the trail and John continued on to the overlook of the entire geyser basin for about 4 miles. After our hike more thunder and rain came so we decided to head back. One of these days we will make it to Old Faithful, but not today. We stopped at Bullwinkle’s in town for a couple beers and some video poker. On our way back home, we stopped at Madison Arm Overlook and enjoyed a couple beers, listened to some music and took in the scenery.
15 We decided to explore our area this afternoon. We took a drive down Madison Arm toward Hebgen Lake. We made a few scenic stops. At our first one we saw a mama white tailed deer and baby fawn. The fawn wanted to cross the river to get to the mom and finally made it. We continued on and walked around the Madison Arm marina and campground. After a quick stop in town, we came home and John was in the kitchen making a new batch of salsa. I updated our journal and then we took a time out and did some reading.
Wildlife Sightings – White Tailed Deer and Fawn.
14 This morning looks like it could be a rain out. This area is so huge, it could be a rain out here, but parks of Yellowstone could be fine. So we checked the radar and decided to head out early afternoon. We are heading about 60 miles into the park to the Canyon, Hayden Valley and Fishing Bridge areas. After we were about 20 miles into the park, it started clearing up and turned into a beautiful day. We are on a game drive today. We really want to find more black and grizzly bears and wolfs.
We took the Virginia Cascade side road outside of Norris. It’s a one way road along a beautiful river and some high cliffs. We continued on to the Canyon area and stopped at the visitor’s center. A movie on the geology of Yellowstone was just starting so we went to see it. Then we continued on.
This area is considered the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. We made a stop at the Brink of the Upper Falls Overlook. This is where the Yellowstone River narrows and creates rapids with a big waterfall. We will do the hikes and see the canyon another day. Today we have to continue our game drive.
The Hayden Valley is known as one of the areas to see lots of wildlife. We made multiple stops and saw white pelicans, elk, bison, and bald eagles. We made a stop at Sulphur Caldron. This is another area with mudpots and fumaroles. The skies are starting to get dark and there is lighting in the direction were heading. We did have a bison road block. A bull bison decided to mosey down the center of the road. He stopped traffic for quite a while. We just waited for him to pass. You have to be careful when their near or on the road. If they don’t like your vehicle or the color, they can attach it and do damage.
We continued on down to the Fishing Bridge area. We stopped for a few snacks and a couple beers. We were hoping to find a place on the way back with lots of wildlife to watch, have some snacks and a couple beers. It didn’t quite turn out that way. The storm we had been watching blew in with the wind and the rain. Even though we have 60 miles home, we never outran it. We watched for wildlife on the way home and did see more bison. They don’t care what the weather is. We got home and even though we didn’t see our bears or wolfs today, there is always tomorrow.
Wildlife Sightings – Elk – Bison – Bald Eagles – Geese – White Pelicans
13 We headed up to the Mammoth Hot Springs (MHS) and Gardiner Area today. Everywhere in Yellowstone is a long drive, today it’s about 65 miles each way.
Just before MHS we came to Upper Terraces Drive. We stopped at the Canary Springs trail. Because of all the Limestone in this area, the hot springs look like ice and snow. Also the rock is ever changing due to the minerals in the water.
After the hike and drive we headed to the MHS visitors center. A herd of elks were lounging outside the hotel. They didn’t care about the visitors or the cars, they just did their own thing. At the visitors center we saw a movie on Yellowstone then took a scenic dirt road behind the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel 5 miles into Gardiner.
We took a walk around this small town. We stopped at one place for a beer, and then went to the café for an early dinner. We were going to go on to Tower and the Lamar Valley, but the skies are looking ominous and we have about a 65 mile drive home.
Between the North entrance to the park and Mammoth Hot Springs we saw a large herd of bighorn sheep with babies. See if you can spot all the sheep. The elks are still lounging under the trees at the hotel when we passed. Now the rain is starting and we are heading back. We did see more bison and elk on the way.
Wildlife Sightings – Elk – Bison – Bighorn Sheep
12 Today we are taking a time-out. We are hanging around the cow, doing some reading and working on projects.
11 On our way into Yellowstone, we saw some Sand hill Cranes and a Bald Eagle. Today we are exploring the Geyser area. We wanted to make it down to Old Faithful but we didn’t get that far. Today was Madison to Midway Geysers area.
We took the Firehole Canyon Drive just south of Madison. This is a beautiful one way drive along the Firehole River. Then we stopped at Fountain Paint Pot area which is within the Lower Geyser Basin. We took the Fountain Paint Pot Trail which is about ¾ mile. Clepsydra Geyser is a constant performer. It doesn’t erupt real high but it’s constantly erupting.
We saw a few people with chairs overlooking Fountain Geyser. At the time, it looked like a calm hot spring. I talked with a couple people and found out this is one of the most impressive geysers in Yellowstone Park when it erupts. The eruption can last 25-40 minutes and reach 20-50 feet in height. They had been calculating when the next eruption may happen. They said it’s due now but it may not be for another 4 hours, who really knows. We decided to wait a while and were glad we did. It started boiling and then all of a sudden it blew. Water and steam way up in the air. It erupted for about 35 minutes. We thought it was over at about 25 minutes but then it blew again. While Clepsydra and Fountain were erupting, we also had a smaller one, Jet Geyser behind us going off. We are so glad we stayed. After it was done and once again calm, we headed on down the trail and checked out the Fountain Pain Pot. This is a boiling area of mud and steam.
We continued on down to Midway Geyser Basin. Here the scalding hot water overflows into the Firehole River. We took the elevated boardwalk and saw all the colors of the Grand Prismatic Spring. We saw Excelsior Geyser bubbling but no eruptions have happened in years. Next we headed down to Biscuit Basin.
John is ready for a long hike, so I dropped him off and he did the Fairy Falls 5 mile hike. I met him at the end of Fountain Flats Drive. On my way I took the Firehole Lake Drive. There are lots of geysers in this area, so we will have to come back and explore it another day. I found a nice area with a great view of the river and did some reading while I waited for John.
We stopped in West Yellowstone at the Wolf Pack Brewery for a couple beers, then headed next door to Bullwinkle’s for some appetizers, beers and a little video poker.
Wildlife Sightings – Elk – Bison – Bald Eagles – Geese – Sand Hill Cranes
10 We really like the campground were at. We have a beautiful view out our windows. We have a small creek that also runs right behind us. Mornings are still cool, but this morning is warmer, so we had coffee outside while looking at the mountains in Yellowstone NP.
We are heading into Yellowstone to do some exploring. We are 8 miles from the West entrance to the park. From there it’s 14 miles to Madison. We stopped there at the ranger station first to get some hiking trail and area info. Maggie the ranger was really excited because were here for a month. Most people only have a day or so. So we headed north from Madison.
We were going to try to make it to the Canyons area today, but only made it to Norris, 14 miles from Madison. Already we realize Yellowstone is just such a huge place. We are going to have to really break it down into small sections.
Almost all of Yellowstone sits on top of one of the worlds most active volcanoes making it a huge hydrothermal area. However, the activity takes place below ground, and comes to the surface in the form of geysers, fumaroles, mudpots, and hot springs.
Once we left Madison it didn’t take us long to make a stop at Terrace Spring. This was our first hot springs and we thought it was very cool. We didn’t know how much better it would get. These pools are so hot right around 210 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter, just being near them gets you hot. Also the ground is very unstable, so you have to stay on the trails or you may break through the ground and get burned to death.
Our next stop was the Gibbons Falls Trail. After we checked out the falls, we continued on and came across the artist’s paintpots area. These are all various combinations of mudpots and hot springs with bacteria mats around the edges. The bacteria mats are what give the color to these formations. On our way to the Norris Geyser Basin we saw a herd of bison along the road.
At the Norris Geyser Basin, there are 2 hikes, mostly on elevated walkways for a total of about 2 miles. We did the Back Basin first then the Porcelain Basin. Steamboat Geyser is considered the world’s tallest active geyser. It is very unpredictable and the last major eruption was in 2005. We did see Steamboat erupting and it was our first look at an erupting geyser. We continued on the path and viewed the various geysers, steam vents, mud pots, and bacteria mats.
We decided we are done for the day and headed back to the cow. From here in Norris to the campground its about 35 miles. Along the way home we saw cars pulled to the side and people out taking photos. We checked it out and there was a huge Bull Elk with a big rack. He didn’t care that we were there. We continued on and saw more cars so we stopped. There was a family of about 8 elks, females and babies just lounging along the banks of the Madison River. One baby was crying for his mom. We had a great first exploration day in Yellowstone National Park.
9 As usual, we were up and on the road early by 7am. We are traveling from Moran WY to West Yellowstone MT today. It’s not a long trip about 120 miles, but most of it is through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. This time of year there can be lots of traffic and the speed limit is only 45mph. We are glad we left early, we had very little traffic. We got all set up at Lionshead RV Resort about 8 miles outside of the town of West Yellowstone Montana. Then we headed into town to explore it and pick up badly needed groceries.
8 Today is our pre-departure day. Since we did some things yesterday, we don’t have as much to do today. This campground was perfect location for visiting Grand Teton Natl Park. Bruce stopped by with some PBR’s so we visited with him for a while. We are out of food, so we ordered burgers and fries from our little restaurant and then had an early night.
7 Today we are starting to wind down. We are doing some domestic stuff, then just relaxing and doing some reading.
6 Today John is in need of a big hike. I dropped him off at Colter Bay and he is hiking the Hermitage Trail which is about 10 miles. I am way behind on my journal, photos and website, so I headed over to Jackson Lake Lodge to work on those. Afterwards, we headed back to the cow for a nice dinner and a couple cocktails.
5 Even though it cleared up last night, some smoke is back from the Bear Cub fire. We do have some rain moving in and that will help all the fires in the area. We headed into the park early afternoon and stopped along the Snake River on Cattleman’s Drive. We brought our fishing poles today and tried a few casts. We really need a fly rod, so we only stayed a bit. Then we headed up to Jackson Lake Lodge and hiked the Lunch Hill Trail. It’s a short but very scenic trail. Now we headed home but took a drive along Buffalo Valley Road. It was a pretty drive. We got home and the rain just started. We had a couple cocktails and played some cribbage.
4 This morning we woke to the smell of fire and smoke all around us. I checked it out and a new wildfire started at Bear Cub Point which is about 25 miles away. The whole area is covered by smoke. You can barely make out the Tetons from here. We decided to have a cow day and just hung around the campsite.
3 Johns ready for another big hike. I dropped him off at the trailhead for the Emma Matilda Lake Trail. He hiked the 6 miles over to Jackson Lake Lodge. I headed for Cattleman’s road and relaxed by the Snake River and did some reading.
When I picked him up, we decided to do a game drive. We stopped and picked up a few beers and some snacks at Signal Mtn store. We headed down past Jenny Lake and on to Moose. At the bridge over the Snake River in Moose we saw lots of cars stopped. That means wildlife. We saw 3 Bull Moose. Two were a way’s back in the woods but one was right below us as we were up on a bridge. We stayed for quite a while then we continued one.
We stopped at an area for snacks and a couple beers while overlooking a couple small lakes, the Snake River and the Tetons. As we continued on home, we saw a herd of Buffalo and Pronghorns.
2 We hung around the campground and cow today. We needed a time-out.
1 Today we headed into Grand Teton NP. We have not made it to the top of Signal Mountain so that’s where we’re heading. From the top, you get a beautiful view of the Tetons, Jackson Lake, the valley, the Snake River and our campground way off in the distance. John wanted to hike the 4 miles down to Signal Mtn Lodge. I enjoyed the view, then found a scenic place along Jackson Lake to practice harmonica. I met him at the lodge. Then we stopped at the little store and picked up a few beers to take on a game drive. We stopped at Elk Flats Turnout. There was a large herd of Buffalo and some Pronghorns. We sat on our tailgate, enjoyed some snacks and a few beers and watched the Buffalo by the road.