Our story continues…
YELLOWSTONE. YELLOWSTONE. YELLOWSTONE.
It’s hard to put into words how excited we were for this one.
We were out of our site near the Tetons by 9AM and on the other side of West Yellowstone just after Noon. Though Google Maps was directing us to go around the National Park, we opted to drive through it.
It did shorten the route a little bit, but the most memorable bit about driving through was howwww many people there were…. We were driving through at 11AM on a mid-weekday in mid-August and the roads…were…. BUSY.
The parking lots? Maxed out.
The trails? Visibly crowded.
The traffic? Unbearably slow.
We took this as a learning point.
By 12:30pm we made it to another campsite we found on Free Roam, one of the many free camping apps we use.
Fun Fact: We had to cross 2 state lines to get to this site!
If you look at a map, you’ll see a little sliver of Montana squeezed between Idaho and Wyoming.
We camped on the Idaho side!
It made for the perfect location because it was only 23 minutes from West Yellowstone and 45 minutes from the Madison Junction in Yellowstone National Park.
Here’s a sign from the gate as you enter this free-range camping area!
As always, #LeaveNoTrace, take ALL of your trash and ONLY park where you can see someone has parked before!!
Let me tell you… we had way too much fun at this site…
All of that first evening was spent watching these cows.
For those that may not know, I grew up on a farm.
I’ve seen cows, goats, horses, chickens, sheep, and pigs (and all the critters that come out at night) come and go.
Something about these cows being right outside the window, and sometimes the door,
felt so familiar
and yet still so new.
As we learned from the drive that morning, we knew we needed to get into the park EARLY the next day.
What we learned at 4 o’clock that next morning, however, was that we DEFINITELY were no longer sleeping and sweating…
We were now sleeping and shivering.
It. was. COLD.
Despite the weather and the early morning wake-up call, we still weren’t the only ones on the road.
We even saw a small herd of elk on our way in too!
First trail we headed for was the Grand Prismatic Overlook.
“When We Come Back” we will take full advantage of doing the entire Fairy Falls trail that continues past the overlook.
This morning was so much colder than we were dressed for, so we did the quick hike up to the Overlook for sunrise and came back down.
By 7AM we made it to our next stop, the busiest of them all during peak hours, Excelsior Geyser and Grand Prismatic Spring.
Stay on the boardwalk! Thermal areas are very dangerous and are NOT a playground! (NOR a hot tub, no matter how much you really really want it to be).
To be honest, this was another perk of being here early, I wasn’t worried about bumping shoulders with others while on the boardwalk.
“When We Come Back” it will definitely have to be mid-day where the sun is right over the spring so we can see those vivid colors. I’m open to summer, winter, whatever works… but I just know I can’t visit when the cars are just overflowing out of the parking lots… no way, Jose.
Next stop: Old Faithful!
We were still absolutely freezing but still. we went on.
I was cold as all get out. And I definitely wasn’t sure what was in store for seeing Old Faithful.
I knew the geyser went off every so often, but neither of us knew what exact time that was.
And so the wait began…
Just when you thought something was happening…
…the wait started again.
While we wait, here are some things to know about Old Faithful:
According to the National Park Service, “Old Faithful is one of nearly 500 geysers in Yellowstone and one of six that park rangers currently predict.”
Geyser activity happens anywhere from 68-90 minutes…. and then I think plus or minus 10 minutes on top of that.
Let’s check in.
The point, is, when visiting Old Faithful, plan to be waiting a little while! And plan to hear alllll different times from people around you.
We heard 3 different times before it finally went off at 8:16.
It was in fact way cooler than I thought it was going to be and very well worth the wait.
By this point I think it was still barely breaking 40 degrees outside. My hunger, that early morning wake-up call and the CHILL through my thin sweatpants straight to the bone, were all finally setting in.
I’ll be honest, I was being a little stubborn. We probably could have stayed a little bit longer in the park this day.
But as soon as we left Old Faithful, it was hardly 9AM and cars were already starting to line roads at some trailheads.
Let’s head home.
Oh how nice, the neighbors came to say hello!
That night we were in for another special treat. I was sitting outside when all of a sudden I heard a noise of something walking in the woods in front of me. We were camping in a free-range area, so it wasn’t uncommon to have the cows graze by, even through the distant trees.
WHAT I WAS NOT EXPECTING TO SEE, WAS NO COW AT ALL!
Okay, well, kinda.
I looked up and immediately called, “Devon, Devon, Devon, hurry, HURRY!!!”
ANOTHER momma moose and her baby!!!!! I’m so sad this was the only footage I have of the experience, but so so so grateful to have seen yet another pair!
Day 1 was awesome. Day 2 was even cooler.
Until next time,