seastival 2.0, part four


Since backpacking was a bust, T and I decided to head home a day early to give ourselves time to drive through Yellowstone National Park. I'd never been to the most popular national park in our country and T was game to go through again if, in return, we could go through Grand Teton National Park also. I thought that was a pretty good trade.

We didn't leave Missoula until about 2p, so we didn't get to the entrance to the park until about 7p, so we didn't have a ton of daylight left. We decided that we'd only do half the park, stay somewhere in West Yellowstone if we could find a room and then see the rest of the park in the morning.

Our first stop was the Mammoth Hot Springs. Weirdly, or at least according to T, there wasn't any scalding hot, boiling water spewing forth from the ground here. Like there normally is.

I can only imagine how cool it looks when water is spilling out of all of the holes in the ground, but even without it, it's still a cool, crazy, alien landscape. The Earth is an amazing, freaky place.

We saw a lot of very cool scenery on our drive through the park, trying to get to the next feature before the sun set. After looking at the map, we decided on Norris Geyser Basin—a one-mile loop through an area of multiple, small (compared to Old Faithful) water spouts.

We literally drove off into the sunset and arrived in West Yellowstone after nightfall. Because of our nervousness about finding a hotel room—T kept saying that the park would be crazy with people, but really it was fairly empty—we stopped at Westward Ho, the first one outside of the park, where we squeaked in just as she was about to close (who closes a hotel at 10p?) and got the last room she had available. For $66! This has to be the last hotel in America that still offers rooms for such a low price. And, even though T got attacked by a bat outside of our room and they didn't provide free internet, the room was still really clean and the shower was an actual shower instead of one of those low-flow-spit-on-you ones.

After we got settled in, we went out in search of the internet. Apparently West Yellowstone closes down at 10p. The only thing still open was the Dairy Queen and since they didn't have wifi, we didn't stop in. Oh well, such are the woes of traveling. So, we went back to the hotel room and watched the last bit of Vacation.


Since we knew we'd have another looooonnnnnngggggg day in the car, we figured it'd be good if we hit it pretty early, so we woke up at 6a, went to the recommended Roaming Bear Cafe for breakfast, and drove back into the park. When you enter Yellowstone, they give you a flyer that says more people are gored by buffalo than are attacked by bears. Then they constantly remind you of the danger with signs posted up all over the park. I kind of thought they were maybe over exaggerating the danger, but after seeing one come right up to the walkway around the Fountain Paint Pots, and seeing how everyone reacted, I can definitely see why it might happen. A lot. Because most people are stupid. Me included.

And, while no one was gored (dangit), that thing looked me right in the eye and let me know that it could seriously hurt me if it wanted to. I'm just happy he didn't have any friends with. It would've been West Side Story all over again. After that excitement, the Fountain Paint Pots were a little bit of a let down, but still fairly cool.

I got some really good shots to use as backgrounds anyway.

Out last stop in the park was, of course, Old Faithful. I had to see one of the most famous natural tourist attractions in our country, even though T was nervous that it'd be so crowded I'd get annoyed. It was pretty crowded, but nowhere near as bad as I'd thought it'd be.

A boiling hot, stream of water that shoots at least 50 ft into the air for about 5 minutes? I can see why it's lauded, 'cause that thing was pretty frickin' cool.

We got to see some really cool things in the park, but I would definitely like to go back and spend enough time to do some backpacking. It'd be great to see what's off the main roads a bit.

More pics up on the Flickr.

Since this post is getting extremely long, all I'll say about the Tetons is this:

I can see why people want to climb to the top of them.

More pics up on the Flickr.


LSL said...

Yay! Great vacation pics and stories. (A $66 hotel?) And the Tetons - amazing.

Dylan K said...

I found myself half-wishing the whole Yellowstone swell would blow while I was there, just so I could witness such a thing as my last sight. Truly a freaky spot on the planet.

Kate T-C said...

Wow! Sounds like a really great trip! Your shot of the Tetons is beautiful, but they look SNOWY. I don't think it would have been fun to camp in that (still trying to convince myself that canceling our climb of the Grand was a good idea).

If you want to see people gored by buffalo, I found this little website just the other day:
http://www.nps.gov/yell/photosmultimedia/safetyvideos.htm Actually pretty awful.

Yellowstone might be crowded, but it will always be one of my favorite places on the planet. It's special, unique, and definitely a wonder.

d said...

lsl: i think we might've been a tad more excited about the cost of the room than what we saw in the park.

dylan: yes.

kate: i didn't really want to see anyone gored by a buffalo. that would be terrifying.

y-stone was pretty cool. glad i finally got to see it.