Yellowstone National Park



We arrive in Yellowstone and set up camp. Since this is our second night, we are basically pro wilderness women. To start with, here's my list of camping doodads we found handy on this trip:

  • Tent-Adrienne has a 3-person Marmot brand. Very easy to set-up and room enough for 2. Not sure about 3 unless you feel like snugglin'. Who doesn't feel like snugglin' though, am I right? 
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad-because sleeping on the ground can be a bit...firm. 
  • Blankets & pillows
  • WARM CLOTHES-It gets cold at night. Especially at elevation.
  • Flashlight(s)
  •  Lantern-electric is nice, kerosene is cool and old school
  • Fire starter blocks or some other fire accelerant
  • Lighters
  • Marshmallow sticks!
  • Pot for soupish things
  • Pot holders
  • Mugs
  • Kettle
  • Skillet
  • Plasticware
  • Paper plates/bowls
  • Sharp knife
  • Spatula
  • Large spoon/ladle
  • Dish soap & sponge
  • Grate for fire/camp stove-our sites had grates with the fire pits
  • Folding chairs
  • Can opener
  • Shower bag/shoes
  • Water bottles
  • Daybag for hiking-just a small backpack will do, depending on your intensity
  • Sunscreen
  • Aloe
  • Bug spray
  • Itch relief
  • Ziploc bags
  • Hatchet-because sometimes your allowed to collect wood and other times they give you logs way to big to start out with
  • Pam or some such thing for pans
  • FOOD-pourable bisquick, syrup, s'mores fixins, cereal/milk, sandwich stuff, peanut butter, snacks, canned food, hot cocoa, tea, sugar, salt, pepper, snacks, meat/veg/potatoes or whatever wrapped in foil to make over the fire, snacks

Remember, I'm no expert. Not even an experienced camper. We just found these particular things useful. 

Day 1: Old Faithful

We got to the Old Faithful geyser area just in time to watch it go off. As they say, Old Faithful "isn't the biggest or most regular geyser, but it's the biggest regular geyser." So that's cool! Erupting every hour and a half or so, it can get as high as 180 feet. You can see my first two pictures below for how high it got while we were there.

Arguably the coolest part of this the Old Faithful area is not Old Faithful itself, but the sheer amount of activity in the surrounding geyser basins. In case you didn't know, Yellowstone is on top of a massive (and active) super-volcano that will likely alter life on the whole planet when it blows. BUT, in the meantime it makes for all this really cool geyser, hot spring, etc. activity. We spent the entire day walking among bubbling, sulfurous pools ranging in color from brown, to bright blue, to totally clear. Day well spent.  

Day 2: Mammoth Hot Springs

The Mammoth Hot Springs area is in the north of the park (we were camping in the south), so with a park speed limit of about 40 mph it took us most of the morning to drive up there. More super cool volcanic-induced activity. In one picture below you can see the tops of trees sticking out of the ground. They're basically stone now, from where they have absorbed the minerals that have engulfed them at some point in the past. 

On the way back we stopped for a short hike through a meadow to Wraith Falls. If ever I felt like skipping through a field of wild flowers, this was it. We also took a scenic route via the Blacktail driving loop. Basically, instead of continuing along the main paved road for a section we took a gravel road that looped farther back into the back-country. Ten out of ten do recommend.

Day 3: Canyon

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is pretty grand indeed. Water is just....powerful. And peaceful, life-giving, torrential, rhythmic, refreshing. It's a lot of things. Some of the hikes around this area were pretty steep, so it makes you feel you've earned the view. 

We also stopped at the Mud Volcano area, a smaller geyser basin. I'm so happy we did, because check out the bison! In the first picture you can see how close those two guys were on either side of the path. Just chillin'. Very unconcerned with how excited we were to see them. Fun fact: they take dirt baths and are very adorably clumsy-looking while they do it. Don't be fooled by their calm demeanor though. They have the ability to run faster than Usain Bolt (according to the warning signs) and aren't afraid to gore an over-eager tourist. In addition to close bison encounters, the mud bubbling in the pools here made pretty amusing gloopy sounds so we really enjoyed this place. 

To end out our last day, we took a hike called Storm Point that promised good views of Yellowstone Lake we'd been driving by. Boy, did it deliver. Massive lake, sandy shores, rocky outcroppings. Yes. 

Below are also some pictures of Hayden Valley, a huge plains area that had "Home on the Range" stuck in both of our heads. Once upon a long time ago, the lake filled these valleys. It has since receded to leave an area where you are almost sure to spot all kinds of wildlife. Especially at dawn or dusk. 

Yellowstone in Panoramas


And with that, to Glacier National Park we go! Fingers crossed driving across Montana isn't as awful as Wyoming.