We packed up our picnic lunch, snacks, water and drinks for the day and headed out from Elephant Head Lodge to explore Yellowstone. The Grand Canyon and Geyser Basin topped our to-do list so our plan was to do the lower loop of Yellowstone.
I had picked up a Yellowstone travel guide at McKay’s Books in Nashville the week before our trip and it really was helpful in telling us things not on the park map. I would highly recommend visitors invest in a detailed guide to let you know areas worth stopping, places to picnic, good trails, etc. The park is HUGE and if your time is limited you will want to maximize what you see.
Since Elephant Head Lodge is located just outside of the East Entrance of Yellowstone, we stopped off at Pahaska Teepee Lodge to fill up with gas on our way. Here are a few snapshots of Pahaska Teepee, which offers cabins, a store, gas, and restaurant. It’s also prime wildlife sighting territory – we spotted a moose mama just across the road in the river and several guests spotted grizzlies along the river in late Sept/Oct.
I’ll post my favorite pictures to go along with our day and then include all the rest in the gallery of photos for explorers to check out.
Up, up, up and over Sylvan Pass, and as we were winding down the mountain on the other side, we spotted some mule deer in one of the meadows. We stopped off at the Fishing Bridge Lodge in the park to check it out and use the restrooms. They have a big assortment of Yellowstone and Wyoming souvenirs, supplies, sundries and a casual restaurant in the back.
We dodged the buffalo wandering down the road around Fishing Bridge without losing too much time and turned to go north towards the Grand Canyon and Falls area.
Mud Volcano along the Yellowstone River was the first stop off along the way… the buffalo were hanging out by the river right by steaming geysers…
We then passed through a golden-colored open area known as Hayden Valley and home to many of the park’s grazing wildlife.
Then we parked and walked out to Artist’s Point to see the view of the Grand Canyon and falls. An artist was set up painting so I captured her too.
We backtracked down the road and got a different view…
The Geyser Basin was next on the agenda after leaving the falls, and I couldn’t wait to see all those bubbling geysers!
My guide book noted picnic areas before and after Gibbon Falls, and this is where we stopped off for our picnic lunch. As we were driving along the Gibbon River between Elk Park and Gibbon Meadows, Wally spied something weird looking by the river. There was a pullout, so we stopped to see what it was. Another car was there and when I got out a lady excitedly told me that it was the “chocolate pots” we had found. “We’ve been here four or five times and this is the first time we’ve seen them,” she exclaimed. While they don’t spew, this big one is just really cool looking!
When we reached the junction at Madison, we stayed left towards the Geyser Basin. It was worth driving through the Firehole Canyon Drive to see the Firehole Falls which looks like it would be fun for families in the summertime. (Worth noting – they have bathrooms along the road by a swimming are in the river for those in need).
We took the Firehole Lake Drive and it’s worth your time with some colorful pools and big blows..
Next stop was the Midway Geyser Basin and Grand Prismatic Spring – WOW! My favorite of all the geyser areas! Loved the popping colors … the oranges and aquas are amazing!
Biscuit Basin was next… and then Old Faithful! We arrived in the huge parking lot, found a spot and headed towards the lodge area. We saw people lined up and figured that must be what we were looking for…
We found a spot and watched as the geyser began to sputter and spit. Weren’t we the lucky ones??? Less than 10 minutes from when we arrived, we got our photos and headed to the Old Faithful Inn to do a quick run through and beat the crowd’s departure.
We made it back to the Elephant Head Lodge in time for dinner and to visit with the other guests about their day. Wow! What an amazing American treasure!
I have to say the pros to staying inside the park is less driving so you can see more. The cons are fighting the crowds and feeling like you’re on a cattle drive.
Here’s the rest of my shots from the day…