Colorful hot springs, clouds of sulphuric steam rising out of almost every inch of the park, magnificent Bison just strolling around and hissing fumaroles make Yellowstone National Park a very alluring place to visit. Without a doubt, it is one of the most exotic and pristine National Parks in the country and it also happens to be the oldest! During our short long weekend visit, we only managed to cover most of sights on the West and South sections of the park. It was certainly not enough time to take in all the spectacular geothermal features.
In a barrage of thunder and hailstones, we drove up from Salt Lake City, Utah towards West Yellowstone, Montana where we were going to be staying. The landscape throughout the drive was quite mesmerizing. I happen to love rain and thunderstorms, so it was the perfect start to the weekend. As we got closer to Montana, the skies cleared up and the lovely crisp mountain air welcomed us. After checking in at the lodge, we immediately set out to the Old Faithful Inn to witness the dutiful Old Faithful. The park is big, it is also very busy and after parking at the Old Faithful inn, we began to wonder if it all the spots in the park were going to be as busy. The crowd sort of takes away from the charm a little bit, but as you hike deeper into the park, the crowds disappear and all is well again :)
The next morning, we started out early morning to make sure we were able to cover as much of the park as possible. The Bisons crossing the roads slowed us down a little bit, and caused a few traffic jams, but no complaints there! Just watching them calmly walk across was a treat. Apparently it is the only park where they have lived continuously since prehistoric times and roam freely, sublimely indifferent to the cars and people. We continued on to the Fountain Paint Pot, where we witnessed 4 hydrothermal features – geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles. It was quite fascinating to just stand and observe these features. Boiling mud randomly squirting over the mud pot, creating interesting sounds as the gases bubbled through the clay and a constant stream of Sulphur laden steam, leaving us nearly soaked as we walked off the wooden walkway!
One of the most remarkable sights was that of the Morning Glory Pool. It is about a 3 mile hike from the Old Faithful and the best part is that you get to see a number of other geysers and springs on the way, including the Castle Geyser. By the time we got to the Morning glory, the crowds thinned out and there were only a couple of other people. The gorgeous blue, green water and microbes that give it its characteristic orange-yellow fringe make it one of the most picturesque sights.
Spots such as the Grand Prismatic Spring, which is the largest spring in the US, and the third-largest in the world seem to draw the highest number of visitors in the park. I would recommend visiting the popular spots early in the day and then heading out to the other less popular sights.
Having heard so much about the Grand Teton National Park, we decided to drive through the park on our way back to Salt Lake City. What a gorgeous drive it was! Since the direct road from inside Yellowstone was blocked, we had to take a detour, which turned out to be one of the prettiest drives I have done. Narrow meandering roads and lush green meadows leading us towards the snow capped peaks in the distance. Since this post is primarily about Yellowstone, I will stop right here and just add a few pictures of Grand Teton below :). Would love to go back and explore some more some day.
Yellowstone National Park is home to some of the most visually breathtaking hot springs, geysers and very diverse wildlife. It is one place anyone can fall in love with! On my next trip, I plan to cover Lamar Valley, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Mammoth Springs and of course, go back to all the spots we covered on this trip.