On our travel day from the Grand Tetons National Park to Yellowstone National Park we managed to pack in a whole load of sight-seeing. This began on our journey out of the Tetons themselves when we stopped at Oxbow Bend lookout point. From here there were stunning views across the Snake River to the Teton mountains. There was a slight haze caused by the fires in the next valley along but that did nothing to diminish how beautiful this whole area is especially with the leaves turning bright orange and yellow.
We then had to head along the John D Rockefeller Jnr Memorial Parkway to the south entrance of Yellowstone. This road is mainly lined with trees, many of which were charred from previous forest fires but occasionally it opened up slightly to reveal the deep drop offs down towards the Snake River valley below.
Our first proper stop in Yellowstone was at West Thumb Geyser Basin. This is one of the smaller and less thermally active geyser areas in the park but is still incredibly scenic. The colours of the pools in the area are so vivid and with Yellowstone Lake in the background it is absolutely gorgeous, if a little smelly. Aside from the colourful offerings I also liked the fishing cone which was where people used to be able to catch their fish in the lake and then dip them straight into the small, funnel cone and boil them fresh without even having to take them off the line, you are unable to do this now though.
We had a bite to eat here before carrying on towards Old Faithful Geyser basin. This is arguably the most famous landmark in Yellowstone and this showed, the area was packed with tourists, hundreds if not thousands of people were there. There was a while before Old Faithful was due to go off so we took some time to explore Old Faithful Inn which is an incredible building, the architecture is amazing and is worth seeing just in its own right.
Closer to eruption time we went outside. There are rows of benches set out to view the geyser go off but these looked like they would fill up fast and we couldn’t be bothered to watch it through selfie sticks so we decided to walk slightly further afield. We followed the walkways through the other geothermal pools and across the Firehole River to the Upper Geyser Basin area. The top of the path was actually closed off for renovation however we found a spot down on the lower boardwalks on this side of the river, between Improbable and Depression Geyser, to sit and watch the eruption. It was so enjoyable from this viewpoint as there were only a couple of other people near us, we still got a perfect view (albeit from slightly further away then most) and we couldn’t see much of the hordes as they were blocked by a small mound. I would highly suggest making the effort to step away from the crowds if visiting here.
Our last stop of the day was at Grand Prismatic Spring. This is another highlight of the park and so as expected was also very busy. Here we went along the board walk past the Excelsior Geyser Crater and around to the multicoloured Grand Prismatic itself. The colours on display will differ depending on what time of year you visit as this will vary the activity of the microbes that cause the shade variation but to be honest on the day we visited, at boardwalk level, it was hard to see much of the rainbow feature because of the amount of steam blowing in waves across straight into our faces. I was honestly a little disappointed with this sight initially however eavesdropping on other visitors I overheard that there was a walk slightly further away from the boardwalk that goes up to a look out over the whole spring for better views. We didn’t have time to do it on this day but we decided that we would try and come back to do this another day.
We then continued through the park to Gardiner, which is just outside the North entrance of the park and is technically in Montana rather than Wyoming. We checked into our hotel then went out for dinner at the Antler Bar and Grill which served good pub grub style food and was clearly a firm favourite with the locals who were all in there for a drink creating an amiable atmosphere. The only slight downside was the prevalence of a large amount of taxidermy making up the décor.
What is your favourite highlight of Yellowstone National Park? Where have you seen your best geothermal activity in the world?