Day 7, Sunday, July 30, 2017
Sunday was our last full day in Yellowstone, so we tried to see some of the sights that we hadn’t yet made it to. We started out by driving over the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which is not far from the Canyon Campground where we were staying. We stopped for a short hike at the Brink of the Upper Falls – you can hike down to the viewpoint and watch the waterfall cascade over the brink.
Our next stop was Artist Point. Artist Point is just that – a viewpoint with amazing opportunities for beautiful paintings and photography of the Lower Falls. Interestingly, its name was a mistake. F. Jay Haynes, Yellowstone photographer in the 1890s, thought that this was the place where Thomas Moran painted his famous paintings of the Lower Falls in 1872. It wasn’t – that distinction belongs to Moran Point on the north rim – which is now called Lookout Point. Despite the confusion – go – it is beautiful!
We stopped at the Gibbon Meadows picnic area for lunch. It is right along the Gibbon River, which quietly meanders along at that point. The kids played on the banks of the river for a little while we got lunch ready; peanut butter wrap sandwiches. Super-FANCY!
Next up after lunch was the Midway Geyser Basin; we went to Grand Prismatic Spring. I had been there the year before with my mom, so it was neat to go again! I do have to admit that it was pretty nerve-wracking following my nieces and nephew around on that boardwalk crowded with people and the hot, hot, water right there! It is probably not considered acceptable to have 10, 8 and 5 year olds on leashes? There is a new trail that leads up to an overlook above Grand Prismatic Spring; it is about a mile long. We were going to hike up that trail to get a different perspective, but we weren’t able to find it! Granted, we didn’t look that hard either. So the overlook above Grand Prismatic Spring remains on the list of things to do next time I am in Yellowstone!
We visited Gibbon Falls; the signs explain that Gibbon Falls in right on the edge of the caldera that was created with the volcanic eruption 640,000 years ago. If you go south from Gibbon Falls, you travel into the caldera. If you go north, you move out of the caldera. Even though you can’t see the caldera, it was interesting to ponder driving through a giant volcanic crater. I walked down to get a view of the falls, where it promptly started to hail! Yep, that’s right, it seemed we weren’t going to get away from the terrible rain on this trip! By the time we got back to the car, all of us were soaked – right down to sloshy shoes. We all took our shoes and socks off even – except my poor brother, who was driving.
On our drive back to camp, we went up north through the Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower areas of the park once again. The wildlife spotting was amazing! In just a short period of time, driving on the road, we saw two Sandhill cranes, a coyote, and believe or not, two mules. Of course, the mules were obviously domestic animals who escaped, but they managed to get away without their halters. I can only hope that they were caught soon enough.
Back at camp, we saw a giant bull elk hanging out. He was injured, so he likely sought refuge in the relative safety of a campground – wolves and bears likely stay further away than the middle of camp. He was eating and relaxing, and hopefully it was just a temporary injury.
Dinner that evening was spaghetti and meatballs with my aunt and uncle, and my sister-in-law’s mom, sister, niece and nephew. Why do we not have better familial names for our in-laws’ families? I digress. We hung out around the campfire, and had birthday donuts in honor of my niece’s birthday. What a fun day!
Distance for the Day: Driving within park
Canyon Campground, Yellowstone National Park: $30 per night for a tent site