Next stop was the big kahuna: Yellowstone, along with all the thousands of people that were there along with us. Unlucky for us, July and August are when most of the park’s four million visitors are there. But we definitely not going to skip it just because it was busy. Since we were out here we were going to spend some time at Yellowstone. Fortunately for us, Katie had a friend in West Yellowstone, Montana who was willing to let us stay with her and her husband (thank you Erin and Brian!), so we didn’t have to fight for a campsite. On our first day at Yellowstone we decided to stop and see the Upper Geyser Basin (where Old Faithful is).
Immediately it was apparent that this park infrastructure was updated (and probably is continuing to be updated) to accommodate people doing exactly what we were doing. Single family cars traveling across the country and coming to Yellowstone to see the natural wonders that occur from being on top of an active volcano. What I mean is, the parking lots were giant. There were also cars from all over. We probably could have finished the license plate game walking up and down the rows of the parking lot near Old Faithful. I wonder if Ulysses S. Grant expected that when he established it as the first national park, or what he would say about how people travel through the park now, only hitting about 1% of the park’s area if they stay on the roads.
Old Faithful stayed true to it’s name, erupting at almost exactly 3:12PM. It was cool that the rangers are able to predict it with such accuracy. Old Faithful was just the beginning though. Just because it is the most famous geyser does not mean that it is the best one. There is a trail all through the entire geyser basin, where you can walk through, enjoying the sites of the geysers spurting, sputtering, and effervescing. The silica deposits surrounding the geysers were all different shapes and sizes, some neatly cone shaped and others formed over trees with hole is in the sides that water spurted out of.
My favorite geyser that we saw erupt was Grand Geyser, which is the tallest predictable geyser in the world. We were lucky to have stopped for a snack and some water along our walk and happened to be listening to a tour guide and some geyser gazers talking about. We also learned that there is an entire geyser gazer network, complete with meticulous logs of when each geyser erupts and for how long; and that each member of the geyser gazers has their own walkie talkie to communicate with. “WAVES ON GRAND” is apparently the indication that the 10-12 minute exhibit of Grand Geyser erupting is about to occur. Grand also has two smaller geysers next to it that erupt simultaneously; Vent (which erupts like a firehose, straight up in the air) and Turban. It was lovely to be able to sit there in awe of the powers of nature. It was also a plus that there were SIGNIFICANTLY less people there to view the eruption than were at Old Faithful.