Day Two, and our last full day, meant cramming in as much as we possibly could. We visited Old Faithful and we could not have timed our visit better. We arrived within ten minutes of the eruption. Hundreds of visitors lined the boardwalk, and watched (or timed) the geyser do its thing. The length of the eruption will tell you when the next one will go off. If it lasts less than 2 1/2 minutes, the next time it goes off will be in one hour. If it’s longer than 2 1/2 minutes, you have a 90 minute wait.
There is more to see at Old Faithful, you can check out other geysers, hot springs and fumeroles. We did the 1.3 mile walk around the Geyser Hill Loop, then headed inside to check out the Visitor Center. We were pretty impressed with the children’s area, which explained all the hydrothermic features. After a quick picnic lunch, we headed back towards Canyon intending to make a few stops. First stop was Midway Geyser Basin, to view Yellowstone’s largest hot spring, Grand Prismatic Spring. Geoff & Miles did this hike, while Elijah said the smell of sulphur was giving him a headache, so we hung out in the shade near the trailhead.
Next stop was Artists Paintpots. Geoff wanted to see mudpots, and this short hike gave great views of our surroundings plus mudpots. The kids were amused by the size and sounds the bubbling mud produced.
Last stop before heading back to camp was snagging a letterbox. I thought it was fate that a box was planted just a few weeks before my visit, and so close to our campsite. We drove back to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, but this time on the other side of the falls we visited the day before. I had not printed the picture that went with the clue, which proved to be the key for me finding my prize. Thank God for cell signal, I pulled up AQ and used the picture to locate the box. All the while I was doing this, the boys heading on a hike on Uncle Tom’s Trail. The hike led them to a rickety metal staircase of 300 steps “attached” to the rock face. But the view of Lower Falls made it worthwhile for them.
The rest of the afternoon was resting from all our adventures. After dinner, we treated ourselves to some ice cream in the village. I indulged in Moose Tracks.
Day 3, time to go home. No joke, we considered staying another night. We loved it there, and wished we had made it a longer trip. But reality beckoned us to return to Denver. We had packed up most of our stuff the night before, so we just rolled out of our sleeping bags and headed to the village to meet Gramma and Gary for breakfast at the Canyon Lodge Dining Room. This was a great decision on many levels, one being that the weather was starting to mist. A hot breakfast followed by one last stop at the Visitor Center. I had one more souvenir to pick up, and Miles was ready to become a junior ranger. Miles was tickled to earn his first ever junior ranger badge, and Gramma & Gary awarded him with a junior ranger hat. (*side note, Elijah had not finished his book, it is a little harder for 8 year olds. He earned his badge and hat a few weeks later)
It was time to part company, but the memories we made were amazing.
Was it worth the drive? Yes.
Worth the cost? It was definitely one of our most expensive camping trips when you add up gas and park fees. But since we don’t plan to do it every year, and it was our family vacation for the year, I’m going to say yes.
Should you go? Absolutely! Yellowstone was awesome. We hope to go back in a few years, next time checking out Grand Tetons and the parts of Yellowstone we missed.
For more information, visit Yellowstone’s website.