We had to adjust our summer vacation plans due to the travel restrictions around the pandemic. Like many others, we decided to visit some national parks. First on the list was Yellowstone. We figured this was a good age to bring the boys to this American icon.
We spent 4 days and nights in the park, splitting our time between the Canyon Village and the Lake Cottages. Both areas were nice, if somewhat simple, cabins. Each with their own attractions within walking distance.
Our first day, we went to Old Faithful. As we approached the basin, we could tell from the size of the crowd that had gathered (what is social distancing anyway?) that the geyser was ready to erupt. We made our way around the edge of the crowd, pausing several times when it seemed an eruption was starting. Finally, we decided to hike up the overlook trail for a view from above. Naturally, as soon as we rounded the corner out of site, the geyser blew.
After hiking up to the overlook, the skies opened up and poured down rain. Despite our rain gear, we were soaked. We decided to hike around the basin to dry off a bit once the rain cleared. When we made it about half way down the trail, we could see Old Faithful gushing again in the distance.
We hiked around the hot springs and geysers in the area, finally drying off. Just as we made it back up to the Old Faithful basin, we finally saw it erupt from close range. All it took was a full afternoon walking around the place to see it.
The next day we drove up to Mammoth to tour the hot springs and meet up with some friends of ours to explore the Lamar Valley to the north. It was a beautiful day. We spent some time exploring along the river, and saw a black bear foraging in a meadow on the drive back home.
On Tuesday we rode our bikes to the Osprey Falls trailhead, which led down a steep canyon to a secluded water fall. It was very tiring, but a wonderful visit to a much more quiet part of the park.
I fell into a habit of getting up to catch sunrises in various parts of the park. Alex even volunteered to wake up with me to hike down to an overlook of the Lower Yellowstone Falls. We got up at 5:00 to walk out into a wall of fog. We tried going down the trail, but couldn’t see more than 6 feet in front of our faces. I thought that would sour Alex on the experience, but he asked to wake up the next day to try again. We ended up with some nice sunrise pictures of the falls.
We also had several wildlife encounters in the park, including black bears, grizzlies, coyotes, elk, and of course the bison. We even saw some wolves in the distance. On my only other trip to Yellowstone, I had written it off as primarily a collection of the bizarre thermal features. This time around we discovered that it is so much more. It’s very much worth the time and effort. We’ll be back!