Travel to Yellowstone National Park

At breakfast I sat with a couple that had been in Yellowstone the previous few days and enjoyed hearing about what they had been doing.

Lewis Canyon still had a lot of snow on the ground

We got packed up and since it was going to be rainy, stopped at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, which we had passed going to and from the park. They have some neat sculptures outside, and the guidebook said it was the best museum around. They have a lot of paintings and some photography inside, along with a few sculptures. They have an entire room of Carl Rungius paintings, showing his development from a technical style to more impressionistic work, though he still focused mostly on moose and bears. We saw a marmot while driving out and they must be common because they have signs saying to watch out for the marmots.

We continued up on US 89 and saw some bison in some fields along the highway. We stopped and took a few pictures. We went up past Teton and into the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, a small park that connects the Tetons with Yellowstone. We entered Yellowstone National Park (see map) through the southern entrance, which is maybe the coldest part of the park. There was still a lot of snow on the ground, but the roads have been clear for a few weeks. The road runs along the Lewis River Canyon which is pretty impressive even though, like much of the park, it is recovering from the 1988 forest fires, leaving young trees growing among scattered still standing dead trunks with fallen trees everywhere. The new trees are like Christmas trees, growing slowly due to the harsh conditions.

Old Faithful Inn

Sapphire Pool has deep and very hot blue water

From the southern entrance to Old Faithful is a pretty long drive, 39 miles. We passed Lewis Lake and then mostly trees for the rest of the drive until we got to Kepler Cascades just outside the Old Faithful area. We were pretty hungry by the time we got to Old Faithful, so we stopped at the Old Faithful Grill, attached to the closed snow lodge. By the time we were done, we went over to the visitor center and found out that Old Faithful would be erupting in about 30 minutes plus or minus 10 minutes. We looked at some of the exhibits and then headed outside where Old Faithful was steaming, but otherwise it was pretty cold. Off in the distance there are a lot of other geysers steaming as well and we just missed the Beehive geyser erupting. Old Faithful was a little late, probably at the end of the estimate. But it did go pretty high. I did a movie of it, but I tried to change to portrait to catch the height, which doesn't work when doing a movie (it just comes out sideways). That plus the overcast sky means it didn't photograph well. By the time Old Faithful had gone off it was time to check in to the Old Faithful Inn. This Inn is over 100 years old and has a crazy rustic look to it, but is still quite impressive, with a giant atrium in the lobby. The wings were added within 20 years (so still quite old) and have been updated, so they are kind of like a regular hotel rooms, albeit with creaky floors. We had a view of the parking lot from Room 2007 in the East Wing.

We had a 6:30 reservation for dinner at the Inn's dining room, so we headed down there. The waiter recommended the roasted red pepper smoked gouda soup which was pretty good. The busser was from Bulgaria and working the summer in the park. We found out from them that there are dorms for the workers near the Inn and they work 5 days on with 2 days off. They have an employee's pub which we found out was moved from its original location because of geothermal activity. The dorms actually pre-date the Inn, since they originally housed the workers that built the Inn.

Biscuit Basin

Looking around the geyser basin there are steaming hot spots everywhere

After dinner it was still light, so we drove up to see more geysers. We saw a couple of buffalo near the Biscuit Basin geyser area and stopped to take pictures of them. Then I walked around the Biscuit Basin boardwalk (while Susan was talking to her brother on the phone) to see a dozen or so features. The sapphire pool is very blue and deep, like a swimming pool. Because the park is so old, some features are called geysers even though they aren't geysers anymore. I saw one steam vent that made a clicking noise, and another that had bubbling water that at some point gushed up to about 10 feet in height. There were bison droppings all over the place, so the bison certainly walk around there a lot. Though the water can be close to boiling as it comes out of the ground, maybe the ground itself is warm in spots and makes a good place to sleep. There isn't enough grass for them to want to graze in that area. From the boardwalk I reached down and touched some of the water and it was just warm, not hot. I imagine it cools off pretty quickly.