Family Vacation: Yellowstone

Grand Tetons  |  Yellowstone  |  Jackson

Approaching through the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park, we first visit vast and expansive Yellowstone Lake. Mud Volcano basin is interesting, and Andy is drawn to Dragon’s Mouth Spring, which spews a sulfurous breath to all who approach.

We rush to Old Faithful. Because of road closures, we have to loop around through Canyon Village and Norris and Madison before approaching Geyser Basin from the North. We pull up as people are leaving, having just missed the moment. We set a time to return, well before the projected eruption. There is enough time for a quick walk through Grand Prismatic Spring. Along the boardwalk, the sunlight comes from a precise angle to create a Brocken specter by one of the pools. I’ve captured this one other time while hiking in the Colorado Rockies.

The excitement builds at Old Faithful. With the first few spurts, the onlookers quiet as in reverence. There are a few false starts. Then, Old Faithful performs again. We wait until the crowd clears to get a family picture. On the way back to Madison, traffic is at a standstill. A large bison herd is indecisive about whether or not to cross the highway. A few make their way over, blocking all flow. Everyone has their cameras out. We arrive at the picturesque Explorer Cabins at Yellowstone. There is a welcome s’mores kit to be used in the fire pit.

On this second day in Yellowstone, we visit Gibbon Falls, Artists’ Paintpots, Canyon Village and Inspiration Point, and Mammoth Hot Springs. The highlight is the elk rut, as this is the precise season for seeing this event. Just to the side of the terraces, elk play in the fluffy calcium deposits. Again, because of road closures, we take the long route, back through Tower-Roosevelt and Canyon Village and Norris and Madison to get back to our cabin. There, we cook ravioli in garlic oil and sautéed asparagus. Andy serves up ice cream s’mores in a cup.

We return to Geyser Basin this third day via Firehole Canyon Drive. There is a nice hike through Twig and Spasm Geysers. Andy and I take the Fairy Falls Trail to get a higher view of Grand Prismatic Spring. The view from this hill is truly amazing, as the depth of color is completely different than when seen from the boardwalk. We retrace the road through Madison and Norris to Canyon Village, where we stop to visit Artist Point. An artist is actually there, painting a self-portrait. Then, we hug Yellowstone Lake and cross back and forth over the serpentine Continental Divide on the way out to the Rockefeller Parkway.

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