Our whole summer road trip was planned around one particular stop – a visit to Yellowstone! My husband has been to Yellowstone several times growing up as his family would travel through the states to visit his grandparents in Wyoming. I have always wanted to visit Yellowstone National Park and so when we started talking about taking a summer road trip it was easy to decide that would be our main destination. We traveled through ten different USA states during our 4-week road trip and Yellowstone was my favorite of all the stops. I was absolutely blown away by the scenery and landscape that surrounded me in Yellowstone.
We camped at the Madison campground, one of the several park campgrounds. The campsites were roomy and comfortable with a picnic table and fire pits right at each site. It was really interesting to see elk tracks right through our site and an elk at the river that ran beside our campground. We were really happy with our site. Madison is on the west side of the Grand Loop road that circles around the park. We were just 16 miles north of Old Faithful.
Fountain Paint Pot
After setting up camp the first day we hit the road to start exploring Yellowstone. We headed south around the loop and made our first stop at Fountain Paint Pot which lets you see four different types of terrain all in one stop: hot springs, geysers, fumarole and mudpots. One of the geysers even went off while we were walking the trail. It was so interesting to watch as the water ran down and started forming little creeks as the water shot out of the geyser. The geysers are so fascinating how they can constantly blow hot steam out from their vent holes. In the geyser basin we could see the water boiling and spurting and how the different bacteria growth would make different colors appear where the water ran.
Our next stop was to see the famous Old Faithful geyser. We arrived just a few minutes before the geyser went off. We watched as Old Faithful started with just a little sputter and soon sprayed water over 100’ into the air! It is really pretty cool to watch and I couldn’t believe just how much water was blowing out from Old Faithful. The base of the water looked as thick as a tree trunk. It’s really impressive to think just how much water was being pushed into the air.
Grizzly Bears, Buffalo and more!
The next day, we started off heading north on the Grand Loop to try to find animals. We were really lucky throughout the day and seemed to cross the path at really great times! We were able to stop and watched a grizzly bear and two cubs wind back and forth in the woods. The rangers mentioned the mama bear was likely making her way over to cross the road.
Another favorite moment was seeing a buffalo walking right down the side of the road beside us. Then, he crossed onto the road and started walking literally right down the center of the road! We drove past a river where there were hundreds of buffalo! It was an enormous herd. We saw the first fifty or so and thought it was really neat. Then, we rounded a corner and literally hundreds more came into view and my husband and I both exclaimed “WOW!!!” It was really amazing to see so many buffalo and all so close to the road.
During our trip we also saw elk, deer, eagle, ravens, osprey, geese, chipmunks and some other birds and small animals. There was also no shortage of gorgeous views and scenery with waterfalls, lakes, rivers, mountains, hills, and tons of trees.
Another geyser we stopped to check out is the Steamboat Geyser and the basin surrounding it. Steamboat Geyser is actually the highest geyser that launches water as high as 380′ while Old Faithful is typically 150′ high. An eruption can last anywhere from 3 to 40 minutes! I can’t even imagine seeing the Steamboat Geyser erupt and shoot water 380′ high for 40 minutes!! That would be SO much water! It’s eruption pattern is completely unpredictable, though, and has ranged from 4 days to 50 years between eruptions! The geyser basin is the hottest of all the geysers which lets you see a variety of colors as the bacteria grows in the pools and land surrounding the geysers. It was a beautiful area to explore and the colored bacteria was so interesting. Of course, I would have loved to see the geyser blow, but we didn’t see it during our stay. Steamboat geyser’s last major eruption was May 25, 2005.
As we were leaving Yellowstone and heading towards the Grand Tetons we were really fortunate to come across another grizzly bear. This one was on his own and was one massive bear. I stopped for a few minutes while my husband made his way through the stopped traffic to take a peek. Grizzly bears are absolutely amazing to see in person!
Just outside of Yellowstone off the south exit are the Grand Tetons. They are a massive mountain range that are so beautiful! It was the perfect way to say farewell to Yellowstone as we continued on our journey towards our next stop.