So.. One very important thing to know about Yellowstone and all its surroundings: even though it seems close- it’s not. The sign says 20 miles, you think “awesome, we’ll get there in 20 minutes!”, no, you won’t. Because you’ll pass traffic, animals, people, more animals, more people and a whole 20-miles trip will become a one hour trip.
Also remember, when traveling by car in Yellowstone, or other parts of Wyoming: have enough gas. What is enough, you ask? Well, try to not go below half of the tank. On our trip, we got to an empty road, straight from King’s horror books, and have been driving for 2 hours, without seeing any gas station, with our gas control getting awfully close to “empty”. That’s the moment when you really know what fear is. And I was told that wasn’t even half as long as it can be in Wyoming.
If you wanna know the end of that scary story we finally got to the gas station, with gas 2 dollars more expensive than in the city (1 dollar more expensive than IN YELLOWSTONE!!), with -1 people and some abandoned hostel on site… Yes, you were right. We bought couple gallons as fast as we could, and quickly run away. I couldn’t resist taking couple pictures though.
The Yellowstone National Park is not just a home to Yogi Bear. Yes, you’ll find signs about how dangerous bears are on every corner, but that’s not all. Yellowstone is a huge volcano. If or when it erupts it makes half of North America disappeared. Some people say the eruption of Yellowstone will mean the end of the world. Pretty dramatic, huh? So what’s the deal about Yellowstone? Life-threating bears, erupting volcanos, that sounds like a place for a suicider. The thing that calls everybody to Yellowstone is not exactly a volcano, but the geological structure of that place and that amazing temperature under it that creates all those beautiful geysers, pools and hot brings that Yellowstone is famous for.
The best view of some of the most interesting geysers you’ll get taking a hike in Upper Geyser Basin. It starts right behind the Old Faithful. Even though it’s really crowded (actually it gets less crowded after the pavement ends ;p) it’s a beautiful area and a perfect opportunity for many breathtaking pictures. But I already can tell you, Old Faithful is overrated… During the hike, you’ll see much louder and funnier geysers, that actually look like geysers. But of course, you can sit down with hundreds of people and wait for the eruption. Old Faithful erupts about every 90 minutes. In a visitor centre, you can get a list of predicted eruptions of some of the bigger geysers. Smaller ones usually erupt every couple minutes or even all the time.
My favorite geyser of that hike was Grotto Geyser, that was spitting water out almost all the time, which was accompanied also by amazing sounds.
If you decide to do a hike (most of it is paved or goes through the wooden footbridge, and the whole loop has about 4,5 mile) get all the way to the Morning Glory Pool, you won’t be disappointed.
Just don’t be lazy and don’t cut the hike, by going only on the paved trail, the wooden part has much more to offer.
And never, ever get off the trail. The area is very hot and dangerous.
Other crowded, but also incredible looking part is Grand Prismatic Spring overlook. It brings in mind a huge, broken mirror reflecting all possible colours, surrounded by white fumes. No words or pictures can actually describe it, you just gotta see it.
Yellowstone really has a lot to offer. There are also famous Mammoth Hot Springs, Dragon’s Mouth Geyser, or Steamboat Geyser, the highest active geyser in the world, whose eruption can reach heights of even 295 ft (it hadn’t erupted in couple years).
Just watch out, on the way to the last one, there’s a geyser that stinks like a band of skunks. It’s caused by a big amount of sulfur in its water. Better cover your nose.
Going for a longer trip (not just one day) to Yellowstone you gotta remember that everything’s pretty expensive there. Gas will be usually 1$ more expensive, can of Coke will cost 2,50$ instead of 1$, but camping in Yellowstone is a great experience. Even though they have thousands spots on their campgrounds, it’s recommended you book a spot in advance, especially when you go during the season. Some campgrounds are more expensive, some less but those usually have also fewer facilities. You can find out everything here.
If you feel more adventurous you can also get a wilderness permit (you should also book it in advance, they’re limited) and do some primitive camping. With the bears :), but far away from silly tourists.
Yellowstone has about 10 villages, most of them will have a store (you’ll find there gifts as well as groceries or fire wood), sometimes with a restaurant or a lodge, gas station and visitor center. So as long as you have a car and some money you shouldn’t die, if that’s the concern.
But let’s remember Yellowstone isn’t only about geysers. There are still bears, one of the biggest population of gray wolfs, bisons, elks and much much more. Driving through Yellowstone you’ll see groups of people standing in the weird part of the road “because someone saw an animal” at least couple of days. I saw elks walking in the middle of the road, bisons eating grass next to a tent, wolf puppies playing on the grass field (through a binocular) and almost saw a bear. That’s all during 3 days.
But still 500 animals is killed in Yellowstone each year. Please, be careful while driving.
And there is also Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, which is even more “grand” than a real Grand Canyon, I’d say. Just remember the road down there is one way, so if you’re planning on going to the Inspiration Point, check out if it’s open. Know from the experience 😉
AND definitely consider driving through Cody on your way in and out if you want to experience real Wyoming town.
I hope you enjoyed it.