In about a month of traveling, we made it to our first big destination, Yellowstone National Park. An awe-inspiring atmosphere, it’s as grand and miraculous as I had envisioned. We approached the gate through the east side of the park thereby driving through the Shoshone National Forest. A spotting of Moose outside the park made it picturesque and set the mood for the large wildlife we were about to encounter.
A plan was crafted to camp at the northern part of the park and enjoy the neighboring area for a few days then to move to the southern region for the rest. Given the massiveness of the region, 2.2 million acres, this was indeed a genius idea as the park is vast and an unruly amount of time is spent in the car visiting all the wonderful sites.
The park has 12 campgrounds and fills up rather quickly therefore we were in luck when Indian Creek Campground had spots still available. The area turned out to be a beautiful and very scenic place to camp. This campground was on the other side of the park, so on our drive there, we caught glimpses of Yellowstone Lake, Mud Volcano and of course, saw the infamous bison in the road, stopping traffic as always.
Located in the upper left corner of the park, the Indian Creek Campground has about 75 spots available. With no generators allowed and a limit on RV length, there were mostly people tenting here with about half leaving early every morning and then filling up quickly by the noon hour. Not a peaceful quiet as the sites were close together and there seemed to be someone always walking around or talking, however, it wasn’t a horrible experience.
The camp host here was very helpful in getting us settled in and making sure we knew our way around. A strict emphasis was placed on the rules of ‘dead out’ campfires and being bear aware. To our delight, not long after getting our tent set up, a storm crept in from out of nowhere and it hailed like I’ve never seen before. Only viewing this display of a ground white from hail in pictures, I got to see the action first hand and it was spectacular. Our almighty tent was ready for the challenge and performed brilliantly.
Our first stop to something touristy was Mammoth Hot Springs. My first glimpse of a geyser was breathtaking. The pools were colorful and steamy and of course busy with onlookers adoring the view. The park has hundreds of places to stay and with more people coming in for just the day adventures, there were a lot of people.
Everywhere we went it was busy with people enjoying the sites and taking pictures. I pondered that Yellowstone has to be close to being the most photographed place thus pictures here have probably become invaluable. It seems also that the pictures don’t really capture the grandeur of the scene. The emotion of experiencing beauty isn’t something a camera can capture.
Our next venture the next day was to Norris Geyser Basin, an area that lays claim to being Yellowstone’s oldest as well as hottest thermal area. Steamboat Geyser also is housed here which holds the title of worlds tallest geyser eruption. Its 300+ foot blasts occur at random and infrequent times and can last for minutes or days. What a sight that would be!
As we headed around the path to the back side of Norris Geyser Basin, it was a little more peaceful and we happened upon a geyser erupting. People ahead of us had turned around and took pictures indicating to myself that it just started. We walked up and reveled in the view and as others behind us came running up, it stopped. I don’t have much for luck but this time it was on my side.
While here, we also stopped at the Artist Paintpots. An impressive display of mud geysers with a multitude of colors due to different bacteria present. This feat is present in all the thermal features here as they house a wide variety of bacteria each with its own coloring effect. It is remarkable how bacteria can survive at such extreme temperatures. A brisk hike around this area, we were exhausted from our travels and headed back to camp for supper.
Before calling it a night, we headed to Boiling River which is one of the few places to partake in a soak at Yellowstone. The tremendously hot Boiling River flows into the cold Gardner River and mixes a soothing river bath to indulge in. Only about a dozen people were here lounging in the river as this location wasn’t discussed in any of the Yellowstone hand-outs I had. A great secret.
To finish up the sites in the north region of the park, we headed out the next day toward the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. We took in the landscape at Undine Falls, a stunning and picturesque outlook just off the road with amazing views. As we continued along the drive, a one-way lane took you off the main road to a more remote scenic thoroughfare. Blacktail Plateau Drive took you around through the forest and up and down a cliff. We were hoping here to see some wildlife, but none were spotted.
The Petrified Tree was next on the course which is an ancient tree fossilized from volcanic eruption and thus still standing to this day. The remains were flaking off so you could see through to the inside and get a glimpse of tree life from long ago. Such history moved me.
Then a quick stop to Tower Falls. An emphasized location of the map, complete with lots of people, I couldn’t see much and there were no paths to get closer. I found other falls more remarkable, easier to see, and less crowded.
We made it to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone which we made certain to include given that it was Reed’s favorite stop from his last trip here. The sight was almighty and harmonious and showed great depth to the region we were standing above.
While exploring the Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon, we happened upon a hike prospect, Uncle Tom’s Trail, and we rarely pass up a hike. Named for “Uncle” Tom Richardson who guided people along this area, it descends straight down for a height phobia-inducing view. His trail in 1900 contained 528 steps while the path now was reconstructed for three-quarters of the way down with 328 steps. A striking view of the Lower Falls with a torturous climb back up.
As such, I am not sure the climb was worth the view as outlooks of falls are located all over the park. I’m grateful for the opportunity but will probably not venture again. Exhausted, we headed back to camp, ready to pack up and head to the southern part of the park for more fun and adventure.
You can find that post here: Yellowstone National Park, Lewis Lake.