Day 5, Friday, July 28, 2017
We planned to meet up with my aunt and uncle, who spent last summer working at the bookstore over at Old Faithful’s Visitor’s Center. If you haven’t been to Yellowstone before, you may not realize that it is a huge park, so the driving distances can be long. Heading over to that area of the park – we planned a whole day trip to hang out in that section.
On the way, we stopped at the Kepler Cascades; it is a waterfall on the Firehole River that drops approximately 150 feet over multiple drops – the longest one is 50 feet tall. Kepler Cascades was first discovered on the 1870 expedition, but it wasn’t named until 1881. It is named for the son, Kepler, of the Wyoming Territorial Governor, John Wesley Hoyt. Kepler Cascades are just a short walk from the parking lot, so it is a popular waterfall in the park – plus it is beautiful!
Once we got to Old Faithful, we found Donna and Greg and saw the eruption of Old Faithful. It never gets old!
After that, we did the Ranger Talk with the kids on Growing Up In Yellowstone. One of the rangers spent her childhood in Yellowstone, as the daughter of a Ranger, so she talked about what it was like to spend winters there, traveling on snowmobile, having to have all your supplies stocked for weeks at a time, and doing things like cross country skiing for fun. She also talked about the school system that existing for the approximately 20 children that lived there with their Ranger parents.
We did a walk around the Upper Geyser Basin Loop and saw geysers and hot springs. We waited a bit for Grand Geyser to erupt, mostly because there were a lot of people sitting there looking like something was going to happen. We waited about 15 minutes and then got bored, so we left. Of course it erupted when we got over to Castle Geyser, so I got some photos of Castle Geyser, with Grand Geyser erupting in the distance.
After our geyser tour, we went to the Old Faithful Lodge to look around, and I got some mango sorbet – others got ice cream!
We checked out the Visitor’s Center, which had a fantastic exhibit on geysers and how they work. While we were looking, they announced that Beehive Geyser was going to erupt shortly, so Greg, my niece and I ran over there to catch it. It is a cool geyser!
We planned to head over to Donna and Greg’s campsite for dinner – so I biked over with Greg, while Donna took my seat in the van to show my brother where to go. We worked on our Junior Ranger books and my niece did some whittling, until it was time for dinner. It was a full spread of brats, corn dogs, potato salad, chips, and pickles and olives. Yummy! There’s just something about camping food that really hits the spot!
We were talking about where to see elk, and Greg mentioned that there were always elk in the evenings in the West Thumb area, near the thermals there. After dinner, we drove over there and checked it out. There was an impending thunder and lightning storm – because we just couldn’t get away from it! But the recent (and current) rain made for a gorgeous rainbow over Lake Yellowstone! There were, however, no elk to be found. Not a one.
We said our goodbyes and drove home to our campsite in the rain and a hail storm. On the way, we did see three elk, but it was too dark for photos and one was tucked in the trees too.
Thankfully the storm had cleared when we made it back to camp – it was another cold night though!
Distance for the Day: Driving within park
Canyon Campground, Yellowstone National Park: $30 per night for a tent site