If you grew up watching cartoons like I did, you may be familiar with Yogi the Bear in Jellystone Park. Has it ever occurred that most popular stuffed animals that parents give their kids are dangerous? I used to collect stuffed bears, loving everything about them. I am just learning in my adult life how dangerous bears really are.
I have been to Yellowstone once before during my Moving Out West – Road Trip. It was the end of the season with very few tourists, so the road conditions only permitted me to see Old Faithful and Morning Glory before heading back to Jackson. With the weather forecasts around Seattle for Memorial Day weekend predicted to be rainy, we made an impromptu decision on Wednesday to make the long drive to Yellowstone Friday after work to chase blue skies.
We packed the Jeep and took turns driving with a bed set up in the back for someone to sleep while the other drove. Oh to be young! We drove and entered the park through the West Entrance and made our way to Old Faithful Geyser. We stopped along the way to see the other geothermal attractions or rainbow colored springs sinking down into the earth.
We counted down until Old Faithful would erupt water and steam from under the ground high up into the sky. During our wait, we were able to see Beehive Geyser erupt. Beehive Geyser is named according to the humming buzz sound during its eruption. The pressure is much more than Old Faithful, but Old Faithful is famous because of the frequency and predictability of its eruptions.
Continuing to drive southeast, we found ourselves at the West Thumb Geyser Basin. We stopped here and took pictures of Yellowstone Lake and more rainbow-colored holes with steam rolling off their surfaces.
West Thumb Geyser Basin
After West Thumb, we stopped at Bridge Bay Campground to see if they had any availability. The sign said full, but we figured we would still ask and see if they were able to suggest anywhere to stay. Fortunately, they had a campsite for us to stay at the next two nights. This was an excellent location for our plans to explore the east side of the park.
Bridge Bay Campsite
We saw a wolf around Hayden Valley in the distance. Even with Andy’s 400mm lens, we were not able to get clear pictures. After the wolf sighting, we continued to the viewpoints of Yellowstone Falls in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The canyon was by far the most gorgeous and memorable part of my trip because I painted the Lower Falls using pastels from a random post card when I was 12 years old. From that point on, I knew I would someday see the waterfall in person.
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
We did a short hike to Point Sublime toward Ribbon Lake from Artist Point. I was able to capture great photos of the canyon’s colors and river below with views of Inspiration Point on the other side. We drove north to Mt. Washburn trail head to gather more information on the conditions of the hike. We then turned around and drove to Lake Butte Overlook for views of the sunset before heading back to the campsite for some beef and veggie stir-fry on our Coleman stove. I crawled into the tent and sleeping bag excited for the rest of the trip.
From Sublime Point
We woke up early in the morning to try our luck at seeing some wildlife in Hayden Valley and made our way back to Artist Point for the morning light on the Lower Falls. Afterwards, we made our way across the canyon to Lookout Point and hiked down Red Rock for lower views of the falls. There was a bald eagle nest near the lookout that we were able to see. The nest was massive! We then ate our oatmeal breakfast in front of the Canyon Visitor Center using our Coleman stove before heading to Mt. Washburn. Check out my Hiking to Mt. Washburn post.
Mount Washburn Summit
After Mt. Washburn, we drove north and stopped Tower Fall for a quick picture before driving off the figure eight road towards Lamar Valley, where wildlife (especially wolves) is considered to be extremely active. We stopped at times when wildlife was spotted. We saw a fox den, an osprey nest, tons of buffalo with their calves, elk, sheep, and pronghorns. Some wildlife tours with large monoculars spotted a bear in the far distance. We were approaching the end of our second day without seeing Yogi. I wonder if I should have brought a picnic basket?
Buffalo Grazing in Lamar Valley
On the way back from the campsite, we saw a large coyote run across the road. I was able to get some good pictures while we watched it dig for its dinner in Hayden Valley. We had chicken kebabs after building a fire at our campsite before heading to bed listening to rain droplets hitting the tent walls. AAAHHHH one of the best sleep inducing sounds ever!
Chicken Kebab on a Campfire
We woke up early, broke down camp, and headed to Norris. Our plan was to drive the middle part of the figure eight and head north to Mammoth to exit the North Entrance of the park. We first drove down to Fishing Bridge to see if we could find Yogi one last time, no luck. Since it was raining when we arrived at Norris, we did not get out to see Steamboat Geyser, which is the world’s tallest and active geyser erupting last in 2005. Needless to say we did not wait around. We drove through the rest of the park and stopped in Mammoth for breakfast before starting our drive home at 10:40 am.
What is your favorite Yellowstone attraction?
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