One of the benefits of arriving in Yellowstone in late April is minimal crowds, but the weather was definitely problematic. I kept waiting for a clear sky day to go into the park, but finally realized that probably wasn’t going to happen so instead settled on a dry roads day. Although it was overcast it was still really exciting, and we finally entered our nation’s first National Park. Due to the time of year and weather not all of the roads were open, so we decided to focus on the Old Faithful section of the park.
Even if all the roads were open I would NOT recommend trying to see everything in a day or even two. This park is HUGE, with multiple sections that each deserve their own time in my opinion. To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect, despite all the hype, but this park has absolutely blown me away. It truly has it all. Gorgeous vistas, tons of wildlife, waterfalls, and the geysers. Of course the most famous of them all is Old Faithful so of course that was high on my list. And did I mention this is the 150th anniversary of the park??? I would love to say I planned it that way but it is just a happy coincidence.
We saw a sign when we entered that said watch for bison on the road and we were not disappointed. We had several up close and personal encounters with bison that first day and they were beautiful. We also saw some Trumpeter swans which I have only seen once before in Alaska. This was all less than 10 miles inside the gate which was a great way to start.
It’s hard to decide which pictures to highlight so I will share my favorites in gallery view and you can click on any for a larger version.
The 14 mile drive to Madison was cool enough, but then we started seeing lots of geyser activity. That I did not expect as we would see billowing steam in all kinds of places. Yellowstone sits on an active volcano, and the steam vents and geysers are “release valves”. Frankly it’s incredibly cool and we stopped and took a walk around the Painted Pots area, one of the many walkways built through the geyser fields. We had a lovely conversation which a young ranger named Mary and then hit a section where three of them were all going off at the same time and we were in the middle. What an amazing feeling and I absolutely loved it!!
The day was just filled with unexpected surprises and we hadn’t even gotten to Old Faithful yet. When we arrived we stopped at the gift shops first and met lots of other fulltime RVers who were working there. These stores are beautiful and had lots of staff so we picked up a couple of items.
We made it to the Old Faithful Visitor Center around 3:30 and to be honest I was a bit disappointed. Mostly that is because I am not that interested in the details around geysers, but it does have a beautiful large window you can see the geyser from while being inside. We finished the museum around 4:00pm and since the next eruption was scheduled for 4:14 decided to walk out and wait. Unfortunately it was cold and sleet while we were waiting but the eruption was pretty cool. Keep in mind this was off season and terrible weather and the crowds were still there. Can’t imagine what its like in season.
We were both really glad that we had checked Old Faithful off our list but to be honest I liked the experience at the painted pots better. Still its something everyone should do and I look forward to seeing the lesser known geysers in the future. Since we are here all summer our plan is to do the most famous attractions as early in the summer as we can and then spend the high season (July and August) exploring the lesser known places. Even in high season the park is supposed to be good between 6am – 10 am (prime animal viewing) and 6pm – Dusk. We have already made a couple more trips into the park in the evening and those are special as well.
So far I really love this park and I may come out of this experience with it as my all time favorite. I’ll continue to write about our adventures this summer and share my pictures!
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How neat to see Yellowstone in the snow! What a beautiful park.