Last weekend we took our planned trip to Yellowstone National Park. This year we took Richard and Melinda’s family with us instead of going with the Egley’s.
We left early on Friday morning and headed out through Idaho Falls, Ashton, Island Park and into the West Entrance. We stopped by Gibbon Falls which is one of my new favorite falls it’s very pretty. We then made our way to Mammoth Hot Springs, along the way we stopped at the Artists Paintpots, Roaring Mountain, Sheepeater cliff (which was not worth the stop) and another waterfall.
At Mammoth Hot Springs we were impressed with all the cow and calf Elk we saw, they were every where. They were surrounding all the picnic tables so we couldn’t have lunch there like we’d planned because the rangers wouldn’t let you sit anywhere near the Elk. We then went to walk up the Terraces Area, the Lower Terraces were cool but the walk to the upper was brutal, I didn’t make it all the way up, and David said once he got to the top he didn’t even take any pictures because all the pools that were there 6 years ago had all dried up.
After Mammoth Hot Springs we head off toward The Petrified Tree and Tower Falls. We stopped for lunch at Lava Creek and the kids played in the creek there. It was a perfect place for them to wade. Of course we told them not to get wet but Isaac walked too far into the current and got knocked down, he was soaked. Several visiting Asians thought he was pretty funny. Our next stopped was the Petrified Tree, not a really exciting stop but cool to see once or twice. While we were there several cars were looking across a ravine and we couldn’t see what they were seeing. So I asked a man walking by what everyone was looking at and he pointed his fingers in the air over his head and said some gibberish, I replied is it an Elk and he shook his head yes (we didn’t stop). On our way to Tower Falls we saw a Black Bear which was crazy because it was in the same place we saw a Black Bear 6 years ago. It was very exciting.
Next we visited Tower Falls, when we drove in we saw what looked like a beaver but upon a closer look decided it was a Yellow Bellied Marmot. Then we saw a large Buck Mule Deer in some trees and got a couple ok pictures and then headed to the falls. While at the falls I remembered my mom had told me last time we were there that the view from the bottom of the falls is gorgeous, so David, Katie and I started to hike down the trail. There were signs stating that the trail had been washed out and the lower falls weren’t accessible but we decided to see how close we could get on our own. While going down a hill you never realize how hard the walk back up will be. We got to the bottom and got a few pretty pictures of the Yellowstone River but then we headed back up. It took me a long time to go back up and I’m making this a record so that I’ll never go down that trail again unless I’m in much better shape. When we got to the car we saw that the Buck Mule Deer and a second one had come out of the trees and David got some great pictures of them.
We left Tower Falls and were headed to Canyon Village when we were stopped on the road again by people seeing something we couldn’t see. I made David get out and go ask and take pictures of whatever it was. It ended up being a big Grizzly Bear a very long ways away, it looks like a big brown spot on the mountain. We then left and were headed on our way when another Grizzly Bear ran right across the road in front of our van. Close enough that I had to slam on my brakes and me and all the kids screamed “BEAR!!” Then I immediately started yelling at David to get the camera. The Grizzly ran down over the other side and we drove up ahead to a curve in the road where we could pull off and get some good pictures. Talk about an adrenaline rush Katie compared it to riding the White Rollercoaster at Lagoon. 3 Bears in one day, it was amazing!!
After the bear sightings we headed to Canyon Village where we walked through a cool educational museum and the gift shops then we headed back to the west entrance to go to our hotel. Several miles before we got to Madison where we would turn to go the the West entrance we were stopped. We ended up waiting in line for an unknown reason for about 45 minutes. When we finally got to the front we discovered about 1/2 a dozen Buffalo were walking down the middle of the road and everyone was struggling to get around them. Needless to say we were an hour late getting to our hotel we decided it was too late to cook so we went to the McDonalds in West Yellowstone. They were very over priced, $2 more on everything than here in town. We finally made it to Jared’s Wild Rose Ranch and Inn which is on the North shore of Henry’s Lake at about 10:00PM. We were all so tired we went straight to bed.
We didn’t get going as early on Saturday as we had on Friday but since we were so much closer it was ok. We got into the park around 10:30 and headed for the South loop. First we drove on the one way to Firehole Falls which was very pretty. In the past they had a waterhole open to swim in but it is now closed. We then stopped at Midway Geyser Basin and walked a loop to see those small geysers. Isaac had to go potty about 1/2 around so Jenna, me and him cruised around the rest and when we got to the bathrooms he was dancing so bad and the line was so long I just had him pee in trees (ah to be a boy).
Our next stop was Old Faithful. We got there early enough to wait about an hour for the next scheduled eruption, so we went to the museum and then sat down and took some family pictures. The kids were impressed as always with the Geyser and it was nice to see it at the beginning of the day when they weren’t so worn out. After the Geyser went off we did some shopping and then had lunch at the picnic tables behind the parking lot. The kids each got a souvenir, Katie got a walking stick and David got one just like hers he was pleased with her choice. Madison got a moose she named Mark, Jenna got a pink hoodie that says Yellowstone and Isaac got a Buffalo he named Buck. I got a new hat.
When we left Old Faithful we head toward Yellowstone Lake. David wanted the kids to be able to play there for a minute and get some pictures. On the way we saw two bull Elk in the burned trees and we stopped for David to get some great pictures. Then at the lake we played in the sand and the edge of the lake all the kids got wet so we had to change when we got back to the car but they had fun. Next time I think I may have them wear they’re swimming suits right under their clothes. We also took pictures of our footprints in the sand and remembered Gabie.
Our next destination was to be the Mud Volcano and on the way there as it often happens we were stopped by lots and lots of buffalo. David got several great pictures and we saw several dumb people getting too close. There were rangers there though chasing the buffalo off the road with a weird noise on their loud speakers. I’ve never seen them do that before. The buffalo were much more vocal than I ever remember them being too. I think they must be in mating season.
The Mud Volcano was great and smelled just as bad as ever. Several of the trees were snapped in half and it looked like they were cutting several down too. David was wondering if a big storm had come through and broke all the trees.
Next was the Upper and Lower Falls, we saw the upper first and then the lower. They are always so beautiful to see and to yet again gain respect for our Heavenly Father’s creations. Then we drove to the brink of the upper falls. On the way there we saw a huge Bull Elk just off the road so we stopped to get pictures of him. Once we got there I wouldn’t let Jenna or Isaac let go of an adults hand. David had told me of a man who was goofing off a while back and climbed over the railing and fell into the upper falls and was killed. So I was just a bit over protective of my kids climbing up the wall to see the falls. It’s just so overwhelmingly powerful and scary, but so magnificently beautiful too.
After that we headed home. We had a nice safe trip all the way home and made it back to Pocatello around midnight. This trip was definitely one of our better trips to Yellowstone. It’s always better to do it in two days rather than one and to see everything. We were also so glad that Richard & Melinda, Josh & Sarah could go with us.