Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Upper Geyser Basin - Yellowstone National Park


The Upper Geyser basin is the official name of the geyser area surrounding Old Faithful.  A large network of interconnected boardwalk and asphalt trails takes visitors up close to a number of impressive thermal features. Even if you don't want to explore the trails there are a variety of things to do in the area.  You can eat at one of the many dinning options. You can visit the displays or watch an educational movie in the Visitor Center.  You can also take in the historic architecture of the Old Faithful Inn. Make sure you plan to explore this area in addition to viewing an eruption from Old Faithful.

Location: The Upper Geyser Basin is in the southeast corner of the Lower Loop of the Grand Loop Road. Roads take you to a large parking area near Old Faithful. The trails extend from the Old Faithful Viewing area.

Hiking Distance and Time: There are numerous ways to lengthen or shorten the distance you travel in the Upper Geyser Basin.  Generally plan for about 3.5 miles round trip, but that distance might change depending on the route you take.   Plan for a solid 4 to 5 hours in the Upper Geyser Basin.

Open Season: The area immediately around Old Faithful opens in late April and remains open until early November.  The trails leading to Geyser hill are generally open that same amount of time, but may close occasionally.  The trails leading deep into the Upper Geyser Basin open around Memorial Day.

Date of Visit: Many times during the summer of 2017.

In the summer of 2017 I received a job with Xanterra Parks and Resorts in Yellowstone National Park. I moved there with my husband and our four young children. We lived in a 25 foot RV and spent all our free time exploring the park. This is one of many posts that I will write about specific features within Yellowstone National Park. Be sure to check out my other posts for more tips for your Yellowstone visit.

Five Places to view Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park


Old Faithful, the name is nearly synonymous with Yellowstone National Park. If you are planning a trip to Yellowstone then you know you are going to visit this iconic geyser. Geyser eruptions happen every 35 to 120 minutes. Generally you can expect an eruption every 90 minutes or so. Eruptions can be predicted based on the length of the previous eruption. All this regularity means that you can be assured that you will see an eruption from Old Faithful. The only thing you need to worry about is where you should wait for an eruption.

Location: The Old Faithful area is in the southeast corner of the Lower Loop of the Grand Loop Road.  Roads take you to a large parking area.  From the parking area walk north toward the buildings.  Old Faithful is on the other side of the buildings.  It is ringed by a large boardwalk so you can't miss it.

Hiking Distance and Time:  It's less than a quarter mile from the back of the parking lot to Old Faithful. However, be prepared to walk around the area to visit buildings and other thermal features.  The hike to Observation Point is half a mile long with an elevation gain of over 150 feet.  Time spent in this area can (and should) take several hours.

Open Season: Old Faithful is one of the first areas to open up in the Spring.  It is open from late April through November. Some of the trails around the area don't open until late spring/early summer. Old Faithful is also accessible in the winter if you are staying at the Snow Lodge.

Date of Visit: Various times during the summer of 2017, also in July 2015, July 2010, May 2008, and July 2002.

In the summer of 2017 I received a job with Xanterra Parks and Resorts in Yellowstone National Park. I moved there with my husband and our four young children. We lived in a 25 foot RV and spent all our free time exploring the park. This is one of many posts that I will write about specific features within Yellowstone National Park. Be sure to check out my other posts for more tips for your Yellowstone visit.

Mammoth Hot Springs - Yellowstone National Park


Mammoth Hot Springs is an appropriate name for this area. These stone terraces are, in fact, mammoth.  They completely cover a hillside. The terraces are made of travertine rock that formed as minerals in the hot spring water were deposited over hundreds of years. A network of boardwalk trails and stairs allow visitors to walk next to the stone cliffs. Various parts of the terraces still have water flowing over them. When air temperatures are cool you can see billows of steam rising from the terraces.

Location:  Mammoth Hot Springs is located in the Northwest area of the park.  The terraces are 6 miles from the North Entrance.

Hiking Distance and Time:  The boardwalk around the terraces is about a mile long. Plan for about an hour to walk around the boardwalk.

Open Season:  The terraces, as well as some of the buildings at Mammoth Hot Springs are open all year. However, the only park road that is open is the road leading from Gardiner, MT.  You can't access the area via any of the other park roads.

Date of Visit: Friday, May 26, 2017

In the summer of 2017 I received a job with Xanterra Parks and Resorts in Yellowstone National Park. I moved there with my husband and our four young children. We lived in a 25 foot RV and spent all our free time exploring the park. This is one of many posts that I will write about specific features within Yellowstone National Park. Be sure to check out my other posts for more tips for your Yellowstone visit.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Lamar Valley - Yellowstone National Park


Do you want to see wildlife in Yellowstone? Don't waste your time driving around the Grand Loop with the other tourists. The best place to see wildlife is the Lamar Valley in the Northeast area of the park. This is the least visited part of the park, which is one reason it's the best place to see wildlife.

Location:  The Lamar Valley is located on the Northeast Entrance Road about halfway between Tower Junction and Silver Gate City.

Driving Distance and Time:  The whole road is 33 miles long.  Plan for an hour to drive one way, so allow at least two hours to drive the road and then return to the rest of the park.

Operating Seasons and Hours: The North East Entrance Road is open all year long. Other roads in the park that lead to the NE road may be closed so plan accordingly and check the current conditions list.

Date of Visit: Sunday, June 18, 2017 and several other times throughout the summer

In the summer of 2017 I received a job with Xanterra Parks and Resorts in Yellowstone National Park. I moved there with my husband and our four young children. We lived in a 25 foot RV and spent all our free time exploring the park. This is one of many posts that I will write about specific features within Yellowstone National Park. Be sure to check out my other posts for more tips for your Yellowstone visit.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Norris Geyser Basin - Yellowstone National Park


Norris Geyser Basin is unlike any of the other popular areas of Yellowstone National Park. The geysers are hotter, the trails are longer, and the features aren't as well known. If you are prepared for a long walk in an area with little shade then you can have an enjoyable visit to this area. But if you are expecting just another quick jaunt down a boardwalk you aren't going to like Norris Geyser Basin very much.

Location: Norris Geyser Basin is located on the west side of the park at the intersection of the Norris/Canyon Road and the Upper and Lower Loops of the Grand Loop Road.

Hiking Distance and Time: The Porcelain Basin trail is about .5 miles and the Back Basin Trail is 1.5 miles. Don't let these distances fool you though, there is no such thing as a quick trip to Norris Geyser Basin. Plan on spending anywhere from 1 to 4 hours here.

Operating Seasons and Hours: Norris opens with the Grand Loop Road in late April and closes in late October. However, during the summer the Park Rangers often close the parking lot after it fills up in the middle of the day. It usually reopens when the parking lot clears out a bit. To be on the safe side, plan your visit before 10:00 am or after 5:00 pm.

Date of Visit: Often during the summer of 2017.  Also visited in July 2002, May 2008, July 2010.

In the summer of 2017 I received a job with Xanterra Parks and Resorts in Yellowstone National Park. I moved there with my husband and our four young children. We lived in a 25 foot RV and spent all our free time exploring the park. This is one of many posts that I will write about specific features within Yellowstone National Park. Be sure to check out my other posts for more tips for your Yellowstone visit.

Boiling River - Yellowstone National Park



After a while it can be pretty boring to just look at hot spring after hot spring after hot spring in Yellowstone National Park. If you are looking to enhance your hot spring experience then plan a visit to Boiling River. Soaking in the mix of hot spring runoff water and the Gardener River is a good way to experience Yellowstone as more than just an idle spectator.

Location: The parking area for Boiling River is located 2 miles north of the Visitor Center in Mammoth Hot Springs. There aren't any signs for Boiling River, but the parking area is just south of the signs designating the 45th parallel.

Hiking Distance and Time: From the parking lot you'll have to walk half a mile on a wide, flat trail to reach Boiling River. Time is going to depend on how long you want to spend in the water.  Plan for at least an hour.

Open Season: Water conditions in the Gardener River will often close this area through late June.  Check with the Visitor Center or the current conditions page to see if it is open. The area is open from 5:00 am to 9:00 pm.

Date of Visit: Friday July 14, 2017

In the summer of 2017 I received a job with Xanterra Parks and Resorts in Yellowstone National Park. I moved there with my husband and our four young children. We lived in a 25 foot RV and spent all our free time exploring the park. This is one of many posts that I will write about specific features within Yellowstone National Park. Be sure to check out my other posts for more tips for your Yellowstone visit.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Firehole Canyon Drive - Yellowstone National Park

The Firehole River runs near the Grand Loop Road from Old Faithful to Madison Junction.  Most of the time it is a lazy river with low banks.  However, when the river passes through the Firehole Canyon it changes completely. Steep banks of stone rise up on either side.  Swimming holes form, and in one place the water tumbles down as a 40 foot high water fall. Firehole Canyon Drive is a one way road that follows the old stage coach route through the canyon to give you excellent views of the river.

Location: Firehole Canyon Drive branches off from the Grand Loop Road less than a mile south of Madison Junction.  The exit to the one way road is about 6 miles north of Fountain Paint Pot.

Hiking Distance and Time:  There are no hikes branching off from Firehole Canyon Drive. The whole drive should take approximately 10 minutes.

Open Season: The road opens in the late spring.  The popular swimming area is usually opens the last week of July and is open through August. However, some years it may not open at all due to high water levels.  Check the park's current conditions page or talk to a Park Ranger to see if the river is open.

Date of Visit: Saturday, July 29, 2017 and another visit in July 2010.

In the summer of 2017 I received a job with Xanterra Parks and Resorts in Yellowstone National Park. I moved there with my husband and our four young children. We lived in a 25 foot RV and spent all our free time exploring the park. This is one of many posts that I will write about specific features within Yellowstone National Park. Be sure to check out my other posts for more tips for your Yellowstone visit.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Firehole Lake Drive - Yellowstone National Park


Firehole Lake Drive is a three mile, one way road that branches off from the Grand Loop Road less than a mile south of the Fountain Paint Pot parking lot. There are a number of geysers and springs along the drive. The most notable is the stunning Great Fountain Geyser. Firehole Lake is near the end of the drive. There are places to pull over and park all along the drive, and there is a small parking lot near Firehole Lake. This area is always worth a visit, but Firehole Lake Drive is an especially good option when the more popular geyser areas are full of tourists.

Location: Firehole Lake Drive is located on the Western side of the Grand Loop Road.  The entrance to the road is about a mile south of Fountain Paint Pot.

Hiking Distance and Time:  There really aren't any hikes in this area. You can get out and walk for a few minutes on a boardwalk at Firehole Lake. The main thing you need to take into consideration is how long you are willing to wait for a geyser to erupt. Great Fountain Geyser erupts approximately every 12 hours. If you arrive within a couple hours of a predicted eruption it might be worth your time to hang around and watch the show.

Open Season: Due to bear migrations Firehole Lake Drive is usually closed until Memorial day weekend.

Date of Visit: Thursday, June 29, 2017 and another visit at the end of July in 2015.

In the summer of 2017 I received a job with Xanterra Parks and Resorts in Yellowstone National Park. I moved there with my husband and our four young children. We lived in a 25 foot RV and spent all our free time exploring the park. This is one of many posts that I will write about specific features within Yellowstone National Park. Be sure to check out my other posts for more tips for your Yellowstone visit.

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