Today was our second day in Yellowstone. This morning we got started early, so we would have time to do all the stuff we wanted to, and to beat some of the crowds. The most crazy, crowded times at Yellowstone seem to be between 12:00-4:00.
First we drove to the Norris Geyser Basin area. We did about a 2 mile hike around the whole basin area on the boardwalks there. It was kind of eery to see- kind of like a wasteland. The kids LOVED it, though. They wanted to do the whole hike over. We saw all the thermal features- steam vents, geysers, mud pots, etc. We actually got to see two geysers erupt- the Steamboat geyser and the Vixen geyser- we just got lucky on those, because they don’t necessarily erupt all the time!
The Vixen Geyser went off right as we were walking up to it!
After that, we hit the road again (seeing Yellowstone does require a TON of driving) to see Old Faithful. We stopped for a picnic lunch on the way, and also got slowed down a couple of times for buffalo viewings.
We got to the Old Faithful visitor center about an hour and half before the geyser was scheduled to go off again. That visitor center area was crazy busy with tourists. Yellowstone is all very touristy, but the Old Faithful area reminded us of Disney World or something- it was that full of people. We wandered around the gift shops, walked a short loop trail, and then joined the thousand other people waiting for the geyser to erupt. When it went off (just 1 minute early), it was pretty cool! The kids were so excited to finally get to see this thing they have been anticipating for so long. 🙂
Along with the THOUSAND other people also waiting…you can’t even see all the people that wrapped around the rest of the circle!
We left there as soon as the geyser was done, because we wanted to get to the Fishing Bridge visitor center by 4:00 for the kids to go to a ranger-led program so they could get their Junior Park Ranger badges. It was an interesting program about bald eagles and ospreys, so the kids really liked it. And they earned their park badges, which they were really excited about. 🙂 I know I would have been at their ages, too.
We left there and went to find our cabin at Yellowstone Lake Hotel, on Yellowstone Lake in Lake Village. The lake is absolutely gorgeous, and we really liked the Lake Village, because there is really nobody in the village except people staying at the hotel or the lodge, so it is a lot less crazy and busy. More relaxing for sure. We checked in, rested a bit (I needed a short nap!), then went to get dinner at the Lake Lodge cafeteria, which was surprisingly really, really good. After dinner we walked around the lake a bit to let the kids get rid of some energy.
This buffalo was 30 yards from our cabin when we left for dinner! The kids were THRILLED.
Running off some energy after dinner!
Our little cabin.
So our impression of Yellowstone after now doing just about the whole Grand Loop: this is definitely not a place to go if you want a relaxing, restful trip. It is definitely a tourist destination! We liked it a lot, and there are some very interesting and beautiful things to see, but it is definitely not relaxing or restful. Also, we did not see everything there was to see, not by a long stretch- I think we could be here a whole week and still not see everything. The kids like Yellowstone more than Glacier; Jake and I preferred Glacier….but we always seem to prefer things with less people. 🙂