Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Yellowstone National Park Lower Loop

Yellowstone National Park is one of the most visited National Park and with good reason.  Picturesque scenery, breathtaking geysers, and abundant wildlife who call the park home, you can easily spend a week here.  Unfortunately we only had 2 days so planning was key in maximizing our time here with the Lower Loop planned for our first day at the park and the Upper Loop for day 2 - https://aroundthebayandaway.blogspot.com/2018/08/yellowstone-national-park-upper-loop.html

Entering through the West Gate coming from Idaho, 

we already encountered a slowdown but it was not due to the large summer crowds but awe at the bison sightings along the way, in the valley 

and a few even alongside the road.  Please exercise caution and stay in your car or keep a safe distance of at least 25 yards if on foot, more if their babies are with them.  Just like humans, animals are naturally very protective of their young. 

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring was our first stop.  From the parking lot, it is an easy walk on paved roads, already giving you the first glimpse of geothermal activity along the way.  

As you proceed up the designated boardwalk, hold onto your hats as once it falls outside of the marked areas, there is no chance of recovery evidenced by others less fortunate.  You will pass the turquoise pool along the way to get you ready for the main event. 

The colors of the Grand Prismatic are impressive even if it is created by different species of heat loving bacteria. 

Old Faithful Geyser and Old Faithful Inn

With 40 minutes before the next estimated eruption, we stopped at The Old Faithful Inn first.  

A National Historic Landmark itself, the largest log hotel is worth a stop even if it is just to sit in front of the stone fireplace 

under the multi-story log lobby. 

Seeing the eruption from this side is much less crowded than the main viewing area making it a win-win strategy.  

Old Faithful Basin Store

By now, it is time for lunch and the Old Faithful Basin store, 

just behind the Old Faithful Inn, a quick minute or two drive is a great option with offerings including the bison burger 

and huckleberry soda.  

Just be aware that service can be a bit slow with only one grill.  

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake is probably the quietest and least crowded part of the park due to its size.  As the largest high elevation lake in North America, you will find yourself having your photo opportunities to yourself, making this no less impressive than other areas of the park.  

Yellowstone River Lower Falls and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Our last stop of the day is the Lower Falls and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  Although not as known for its falls as Yosemite or as its canyon as vast as Grand Canyon, it does not make this area any less majestic.  Worth the stop but bug repellent is recommended as mosquitos are out in full force. 

Unplanned Wildlife Sighting

Sometimes the best sights are unplanned and ours for the day is a brown bear.  We were lucky enough to capture a quick picture right before the ranger had everyone move back to the road to ensure that safe distance, another reminder that this is their home and we are just visiting.   

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