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  • Writer's pictureShayna Gaman-Bean

The Beans' Favorite Park to Date, Part 2

"Within National Parks is room -- glorious room -- room in which to find ourselves, in which to think and hope, to dream and plan, to rest and resolve." ~ Enos Mills

Continuing from the previous post....

Day 5:

Today we slept in after our late night last night and then got breakfast and let the kids swim while Mike and I decompressed.

Then we went to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center right across the street. Definitely worth a visit. There is a AAA discount and your ticket is good for 2 consecutive days. The bears and wolves put on a pretty good show and it was also fun watching the ground squirrels, birds of prey and otters. So much to see!

Then to lunch at McDs and back to the hotel to pack up for an afternoon in the park.

We first headed to Grand Prismatic which was fantastic. I just can’t get over how fascinating it is that all this ground water collects to then be spewed out. The underground water collection system of Yellowstone is pretty amazing. And the blue of the hot spring pools is unreal. It was another windy day and you could feel the warmth of the steam in the air. Fortunately, it wasn't smelly.

Then to Biscuit Basin for more hot springs and geysers.

Sapphire Pool:

It was so windy and we thought Kendall was going to blow away. HAHA!

Then we had to see Old Faithful again. She was expected to erupt at 1750 and we arrived right at about 1745. She kept teasing us and then finally erupted at 1810 and OMG it was so spectacular!!! There was an initial big eruption and then a secondary that was ginormous!!! It’s like she was saving up for the big one. Definitely worth the wait.

Of course hit some traffic on the way out of the park because of this sleepy bison.

Then we went back to town for dinner at The Branch, it was ok.

Then back to the hotel for s’mores and a late-night workout with Kendall.

Day 6:

We slept in today and took our time getting ready before heading to Bozeman Hot Springs.

We hit the road at about 0930 and headed North.

The drive is easy on 191 and so gorgeous. Pastures, valleys, incredible mountain ranges, picturesque rivers with fly fishermen and rafters, and then into plains and farm country. We didn’t see any wildlife, but lots of horses in pastures.

We made it to Bozeman at about 1100 and then headed to get lunch and then to the hot springs.

We got into the hot springs at about 1130.

We started in the 4 pools outside after having lunch.

We absolutely loved this place and it was so nice to relax for a day.

Then worked our way inside. The pools varied from 89-106 degrees and then there were 2 indoor pools that were 59-63 degrees. We all did the “polar plunge” which was crazy cold!!

Then we swam some more and I took a nap for a little bit.

It was a little after 1500 by now and I had noticed clouds rolling in and sure enough, as we went to get ice cream, they shut down the outdoor pools.

So we changed into our clothes and headed back to West Yellowstone for dinner at Wild West Pizzeria since that has been the best restaurant this trip so far.

Then s’mores at the hotel and back to Yellowstone for nighttime exploring.

On the way in we saw another impressive bison.

We headed to Norris Geyser Basin to see those impressive sights!! The Basin was incredible and just about a 0.6 mile loop.

This dumped so much funky smelling water on us!

But we survived!

Then went to check out Steamboat Geyser which is just 0.5 miles round trip. This geyser is the tallest active geyser in the world at over 300 feet! It seems to be pretty toxic to things around it and it is unpredictable, last erupting almost 2 months ago. It does tease a little, but I wouldn’t want to be near this thing when it erupts!

Then back to the hotel late for bed.

Day 7:

Mike and I woke up at 0400 to head into the park to look for wildlife (really wolves). We were exhausted, but we did it!

The park is very eerie this early in the morning (it was only 34 degrees) as the steam is really intense almost like fog.

There were some clouds in the sky which made for the most beautiful sunrise, but unfortunately no wolves were seen.

We headed to get breakfast burritos and donuts at Mountain Mama's Cafe and then back to the hotel where the kids were just waking up.

Mike and I took a nap and then we went swimming, showered and headed back to the park.

We stopped at McDs to grab lunch and then had a picnic in the park.

We saw an injured bison on the way by the Gibbon River and watched him for a while.

Just to give you an idea of how far away we were from this bison:

We then headed to Mammoth Hot Springs. It was hotter this day, into the low 90s, and no wind so we didn’t last long, but did explore some more beautiful landscapes.

We were suprised to see this was a whole town with lots of places to get food and most importantly, ice cream.

So we got some ice cream and headed to the North Enrtrance in Gardiner to take pics at the Roosevelt Arch.

Then time to head back to West Yellowstone as we were all exhausted.

On the way back we saw the same bison who was now hiding and no one knew he was there! Pretty cool seeing this massive animal right there and no one knew but us! Made me wonder how many animals we've driven by without knowing!?

We also saw an Elk in the forest near the West Entrance.

We went to Buffalo Bar for dinner. So good!!

Then back to the hotel to rest.

Day 8:

We managed to pack up pretty quickly and headed back into the park at about 1000. For some reason, our luck is to always get in slow lines, so even though the line wasn’t long it seemed like we waited forever.

After barely entering the park was immediately saw a bald eagle, herd of elk and a bison!!

Then we headed back to the Old Faithful area to see Castle Geyser.

We walked around to try to find the spot to remake my childhood pic, and found something similar, but not exact.

Old pic from the late 80s:

The attempted remake:

Another old pic from the late 80s:

And the remake. In our defense, you can't get that close anymore:

We saw many more interesting geysers and springs and walked for a little over a mile.

Then headed back to Old Faithful for a family pic. It was not the most spectacular eruption, but we got the pic!

Then we grabbed lunch at McDs and hit the road.

We saw the sad scene of a mama and baby moose and the baby was injured. We watched them almost get hits by cars on the freeway, but ultimately were able to safely run off to the mountains. Phew!

We made a pit stop at Bear World which was so cool!!! It's a wildlife sanctuary with an area very similar to a zoo and another area that you drive through and get to experience the animals up close! There are so many bears and other animals in the drive through area.

And the baby bears inside were so much fun to watch!! The bear feedings were booked, which was a bummer, but we still enjoyed our time there. If you're better than me at planning, definitely plan of doing a bear cub feeding.

We made it to the hotel at about 2100, went for a quick swim and then bed.

Day 9:

We sort of slept in this morning, got the hotel breakfast and then checked out at about 1030 and hit the road.

We made great timing only stopping once for lunch in Elko and then in Winnemucca for gas and snacks. We pretty much just drove a ton and super quick and made it home in record time at a little after 1800.

This drive is challenging because so much of it is Nevada high desert and not so pretty. It was nice to have a time change back 1 hour when we crossed into Nevada.

Funny thing was we realized that there’s no welcome to California sign!!! Or at least we couldn't find it!

It felt great to be home!

Is there anything I didn't get to do that I would love to next time?

  1. Fairy Falls: where you see views of Grand Prismatic

  2. Hike to see Old Faithful from a different view

  3. Lamar Valley: great way to see wildlife

I would highly recommend at least 2 days in Yellowstone and 1 day in Teton. Must sees on Grand Loop in Yellowstone, in order, if you have a limited time in the park:

  1. Norris Geyser Basin

  2. Grand Canyon

  3. Hayden Valley

  4. Dragon's Mouth Spring

  5. Yellowstone Lake

  6. West Thumb Geyser Basin

  7. Old Faithful

  8. Grand Prismatic

If you have additional time, other great things to see in Yellowstone:

  1. Mammoth Springs

  2. Lamar Valley

  3. Biscuit Basin

  4. See Old Faithful more than once because each eruption is different

  5. Fountain Paint Pot

  6. An early morning (before sunrise) in the park to go looking for the wolves

Things to do in Teton if you only have a day:

  1. Mormon Row tour

  2. String Lake hike

  3. Jenny Lake - swim in the lake, hike around the lake or go kayaking or boating

  4. Most importantly: admire the beautiful views of the mountains from one of the many lookouts

  5. Have lunch at the Pizza and Brews place at Jackson Lake



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