Yellowstone, Day 1: Southern Loop

The Western road trip continues! We were really lucky in that Yellowstone was fully opened by the time our travels came around. A large portion of park roads had been closed due to massive flooding in the late Spring. Then, there was a partial re-opening that had alternating day entry based on whether your car’s license plate began with an even or an odd number. I was ready to roll with the punches since we wouldn’t know our rental car plate until the trip started. But then, full entry was restored so it wasn’t even an issue!

https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/upload/YELL-GRTE-Tear-Off-Map-2022_508.pdf

We drove up the John D. Rockefeller parkway, which was scenic and brought us right into the park through the South Entrance. Our destinations for the day were along the west half of the lower loop. I used Eternal Arrival’s posts to help plan the trip and I would recommend them as a resource!

Our first stop was at Old Faithful. We thought about taking the short hike to Observation Point, but we decided we’d rather be closer to the eruption. We spent two eruption cycles at the Old Faithful/Upper Geyser basin because we were terrible at timing our location with eruptions. We just missed several of the less regular geysers in the Upper Basin and then, as a result, we missed the first Old Faithful eruption. And yes, there are geyser predictors but everything was going off a few minutes early. No big deal. It was still super impressive and we enjoyed hiking around. It was in full sun and it was pretty hot, but we had water and took our time.

We decided to grab lunch and wait for the next eruption. We ordered some (pretty terrible) chili and sat down on the porch. The porch would have been a good spot, but I wanted to get closer and broil in the sun. SMS is such a good sport that he came along, even though the porch was quite nice.

We hopped back into the car and headed to the Grand Prismatic Spring (GPS). There, we took in the views from the GPS lookout point, about half a mile along Fairy Falls Trail. It was a great viewpoint. I think it’s a better way to take it all in than the boardwalk adjacent to the GPS, but I don’t know this firsthand since we skipped it. We had seen a lot of the smaller pools at the Upper Geyser loop and admired the color gradients there.

After our short hike, we went to our next stop: Fountain Paint Pots. The geothermal springs and variety of activity were so cool! I love the burping mud! It’s hard to pick a favorite site among the Yellowstone sights we saw today, but I would pick Yellowstone as my favorite park of the trip.

After our stops, we headed towards West Yellowstone and our glamping accommodations for the next two nights. We stayed at Undercanvas Yellowstone, where we had a really nice yurt-tent with a bed. There were shared bathrooms and showers, but plenty of them so there wasn’t a wait. The main lobby tent had coffee in the morning and s’mores at night. There were a fair number of activities so it felt a little Summer Camp-y, but we skipped the yoga in favor of more time in Yellowstone.

There was also a small river that I went swimming in, which was pretty cool. Literally and figuratively. Between the bugs and the temperature, SMS passed which meant I was swimming by myself. I don’t love swimming by myself because there are no other people for the sharks to attack. So I didn’t stay in the water too long, but it was fun. We also tried to take a fly-fishing casting class but the instructor was a no-show.

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