After walking around the main Norris Basin we took another path to Steamboat Geyser, which has a huge eruption but unpredictable. The notice tells us it can be anywhere between 4 days and 50 years between eruptions so we decide not to wait ! Along the way there is a lovely blue pool steaming away and good views of the effect the basin has had on the forest.
Tonight we are staying in Grant village and as we plan to see Old Faithfull tomorrow we decide to head to Grant via the Hayden Valley and Yellowstone Lake. As we make our way back towards Canyon we take a signed detour from the main loop road onto a narrow, twisty one way road that has a steep drop off to the Gibbon River below, which didn't please Lezli too much, especially as the drop was on her side ! Along this drive you will find Virginia Cascade Falls which drops 60ft into the wooded canyon. There are no developed viewpoints along the road, but I managed to find a safe place to park to get a glimpse of the Falls through the trees before rejoining the main road.
Virginia Cascade Falls.
We then headed south through the beautiful Hayden Valley with views of the Yellowstone River and herds of Bison captured by the early evening sun.
One thing that amazed us about Yellowstone was how much there was to see at every turn, the vents steaming by the side of the road and from the middle of the river, or by the shore. There is just so much more than the 'main events'. We were soon stopping again at the Sulpher Caldron and the Mud Volcano area just across the road from it.
Sulpher Caldron area.
Here you can see evidence of a visit from a bear.
Unfortunately we didn't have the time to walk the whole Trail at the Volcano mud area but what we saw was pretty cool. The steam shown in this photo is coming from the 'Dragons mouth Spring'. Deep rumbling sounds are heard as the steam and other gases explode through the water and then it pushes it out from the cave causing waves.
We continued our journey past Yellowstone Lake as the sun was setting and enjoyed the views, including that of the steam coming from the West thumb geyser basin on the southern shore of the lake. We arrived in Grant Village at 8pm and after checking in and finding our room we walked to the Lakeside restaurant for a wonderful meal. We had a nice young lad from Poland serving us who had a good sense of humour. He told us that he was finishing work in a few days time and hitting the road with his friends. They had got a 3 +1 visa I was told, a work permit for the usual 3 month stay and an additional month as a tourist. This had allowed them to purchase a van for their journey, but unfortunately he was to busy to go into detail. He informed me that he had spoken to all his American visitors and had taken notes of places they recommended. He showed me the list and I started to tell him of all the different options around that list, potential problems and other routes. I saw his face change with the info overload and the surprise that it was coming from a Brit, he hadn't even thought to ask non USA residents. He was busy and struggling to take it all in, so I suggested he take a look here at RTA and ask for advice if needed.
Wow that was quite some day !
Todays mileage = 69. Average = 29mph. Returned 38mpg.
Mileage to date = 2259
Last edited by Southwest Dave; 10-18-2013 at 05:57 AM.
The Grand Tetons and Old Faithfull
The lodgings at Grant Village were very comfortable with rooms being in 'house blocks', like a Hotel room without reception. The room was a good size, very comfy and clean, so comfy neither of us woke until 8:30 and it was 10am before we made our way to the Lakeside restaurant for breakfast. We ended up chatting to two biker couples who were from New Jersey, they were touring on their Harley D's. They were really interested in visiting England one day and we ended up chatting for another 20 mins before we said our goodbyes. We got to the Lakeside diner only to find it closed, so we took a few moments to enjoy the lake views with ducks and various other birds on the water, where a cheeky Chipmunk decided to join us. We made our way to the Village Grill which is part of the Grant village general store building. Over breakfast [which was very nice] we worked out a plan for our day ahead. As it was mid morning we presumed the park would be busy by now, so we decided to leave visiting Old Faithful until later in the day in the hope it would be quieter by then, a tactic that had worked for us before. As it was a nice sunny day and the weather had been unsettled, we decided to head south to the Tetons and take advantage of the clear weather offering good views. I was looking forward to spending a little time in the Tetons and had originally planned to visit them and Mormon Row tomorrow as we passed on our way to Manilla in Utah, but I was concerned that it would be too rushed while travelling almost 400 miles from Canyon village, our stop tonight. So we finished our coffee and had a look around the store and finally hit the road at 11:30am.
The drive south was wonderful on the John D Rockefella Jr Highway, we crossed the Continental divide as the mountain peaks started to reveal themselves from behind the tall trees. It wasn't long before we saw Jackson Lake with the mountains rising up to touch the clouds in the background.
Our first stop was at Jackson Dam, the dam controls the water level between the lake and the Snake river by raising and lowering the 15 x 2.5 ton gates within it. The views across the lake were wonderful !
We continued further into the park and the drive was quite amazing. Glaciers were still clinging to the gulleys of the mountain peaks as the views came and went between the trees. We parked up near the Jenny Lake visitor centre and walked to Jenny Lake from where there were boat tours on the lake, we were tempted but decided to go for a stroll around the lake a little way.
Along Teton Park Road.
We walked to the visitor centre and had a wander around, taking in some of the information available. It was worth it as I noticed a road on the map called Signal mountain road, which straight away caught my attention. After a chat with one of the Rangers and a Hot dog outside we were on our way up Signal Mountain to take in the panoramic views the Ranger had told us about. The road was steep, narrow and twisty as it wound it's way up and down the mountain, but we enjoyed the drive and the rewards that lay in wait at the top.
On Signal mountain.
I don't no where the time goes, but once again it had flown by and we were making our way back to Yellowstone. We did not arrive to Old Faithfull until 6pm and we're hoping that we would not have to wait too long for an eruption so that we could look around the rest of the area before nightfall. Our idea of arriving late in the day seemed to have paid off, the viewing and seating area was under half full as we walked towards it. It then dawned on me that another reason for this could be that we had just missed the last 'performance'. Luckily that wasn't the case and less than 10 mins after sitting down the show began and Old Faithfull performed for us. It was an impressive display alright but personally speaking, after all the loud hissing from vents, the bubbling from boiling mud and almost violent discharges of water we had witnessed, it was almost a little too graceful for me. The main attraction here is the 'Old geysers' reliability, although don't get me wrong, it's still quite amazing !
After the display we walk over to Yellowstone lodge to use the rest rooms. Wow, this is quite some lodge and a most impressive building, so we spend a little time looking around. Next up, we walk across the Firehole river and up Geyser Hill to take in more of the sites and sounds the land has to offer, we get a real bonus along the way and one of the trips highlight moments.
More to come.....
Last edited by Southwest Dave; 10-19-2013 at 06:54 AM.
As we make our way up Geyser Hill the sun is setting and creating a glow on one side of us and big black clouds are gathering on the other creating quite a scene which just adds to the atmosphere created by our surroundings.
We then crossed back over the Firehole river at the top of the walk to circle back towards Old Faithfull. The river has hot springs and steam vents dotted along it's shore and we stop on the bridge to take in the view, made all the better by the 'moody' sunset. As we continued we noticed a small group of people gathered around a cone Geyser, we soon discovered it was known as Castle Geyser, so named for it's likeness to a castle turret, or at least it was when first discovered, but it's shape is changing with the mineral deposits left following eruptions. We spoke to a lady who informed us that it was not the most reliable of Geysers, but that it did erupt twice in a 24 hour period and they were hoping this would occur within the next hour. That put us in an awkward position as we had to make our way back to Canyon Lodge to eat and the time was already approaching 7:30pm. We stayed to take a few photos and within minutes we noticed the small vent close to the 'Turret' was starting to change from steam to a fierce bubbling of boiling water and then all of a sudden a huge column of water was discharged from Castle Geyser high into the sky. We could not believe our luck !! Up until this moment we had never heard of Castle Geyser, it only erupts every 12 hours or so, and here we are after a few minutes witnessing this wonderful event, far more impressive than Old Faithfull in our opinion and a highlight moment of the trip.
As the discharge of water 'softened' the water would splash and cascade down the sides of the 'Castles' walls and everytime you thought it was just about over, it went again. Whereas Old Faithfull's eruptions usually last between 1.5 and 5 minutes, Castle Geysers last an average of 20 mins and then goes into a 'Steam' phase that can last for another 30 to 40 minutes.
A view from the other side.
We started to walk back to the car at 8pm and trying not to be out done, Old Faithfull treated us to a second display as we approached, stronger and taller than the first we had witnessed. We stood and admired his efforts with great appreciation, but the day was won by Castle Geyser.
As we made our way across from Norris to Canyon, it was dark and the black clouds we had been admiring were now on top of us and it rained heavily and a thick mist formed. It made the drive back quite a strain on the eyes, but we arrived back safely a little after 9pm. The cafeteria was closed and the restaurant was full and had a waiting time for a table. They gave us a buzzer that would sound when a table was free which left us free to wander around the gift store next door. It wasn't long before we were sat at our table and ordering our food. It was a much better experience than in the cafeteria although this was probably as most people had eaten and left in numbers leaving us and just a few other guests to enjoy a quieter affair. The Canyon dining experience felt a lot more commercialised than the Lakeside restaurant at Grant village and lacked charm.
We headed for our cabin, which was much the same as the other one we had stayed in 2 nights before and got a good nights sleep ready for the long day ahead. Utah, here we come !
Todays mileage 185. [mph and mpg not recorded.
Total mileage 2444.
Last edited by Southwest Dave; 03-29-2014 at 11:08 AM. Reason: Broken link
Loved seeing you wearing your RTA hat at the geyser!
Come rain or shine, the RTA cap always travels with me. And yep, it's still going strong !
As the song says "Wherever I lay my hat, that's my home". lol
Time to leave Yellowstone.
We never set an alarm when on holiday, but we were both aware of the long day ahead to get to Manila UT tonight and both instinctively woke at 6:30am. This gave us an opportunity to stop at a few more places as we drove south through Yellowstone towards Mormon Row Historical district. There were still a few places of interest between Norris and Old Faithfull that we had yet to visit, so that's the way around the loop road we decided to go, even though it added to the time and mileage. We were on the road shortly before 8:30 and our first port of call was Artists Paint Pot. After a short walk down the quiet wooded path we came to the Paint pots and had a wander around. It was like a steamy marshland area with green grass, coloured rock and blue pools making a colourful display. It was quiet eerie [in a nice way] which was highlighted by the fact we were the only ones there and it was so silent. Our timing was pretty good because as we made our way back ,2 buses with tourists had arrived and were making their way up the path.
We were soon back in the car and even quicker getting back out of it again as we stopped at Gibbon Falls to take in the views and snap a few pictures. Next up was Fountain Paint Pot. This was another fine walk around a Geyser basin that had mud pots, blue pools and steaming vents on show. Once again we had spent longer than we had anticipated and our next visit to the Mid way Geyser Basin was limited to views of the basin from the roadside across the Firehole River due to the time factor. [There is never enough !]
Fountain Paint Pot area.
We had to get a move on now with almost 400 miles to cover today, but once again the temptations to stop were to much, first at Mystic Falls and then at Kepler Cascades and again at Lewis Lake, before we finally said our farewells to Yellowstone and headed south into the Grand Tetons once more. We kept on 191 and didn't drive back through on Grand Teton park road, although we still got some lovely views of the mountains and Snake River before turning off on Antelope Flats to the Mormon Row Historical district.
More to follow as we make our way to Manila in Utah for the night.
Great report and great photos! Even better, I get to re-live bits of my trip.
Keep it coming!
Awesome photos -- I love that one of Fountain Paint Pot.