Yellowstone Adventure 2021: Day 4

Geysers, Geothermal Activity and Bad Luck

“With adventure comes risk but also reward”

We woke up to a beautiful sunrise over the mountains – this place is the best combination of being in nature and comfort – guess that is glamping 🙂 We got a somewhat later start than we wanted but it was worth the extra sleep as we had a full day ahead of us – the plan was to do the left side of both the loops, we would later find out that was an ambitious goal and we should have broken the day into two days…at least!

After a picture stop…

…we entered the park and drove for about 30 minutes before stopping for a short walk to see if we could spot some moose.

First big stop on our itinerary was Roaring Mountain. Roaring Mountain is in Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. state of Wyoming. Roaring Mountain was named for the numerous fumaroles on the western slope of the peak which during the early 1900s were loud enough to be heard for several miles.

Norris Geyer Basin where we walked through pools and took a hike to Steamboat Geyser which is the tallest active Geyser.

Norris Geyer Basin from above on our drive in

Norris Geyer Basin is one of the largest thermal basins in Yellowstone National Park, Norris Geyser Basin is also one of the most volatile.

Tucked away in the Norris Geyser Basin is Steamboat Geyser, the world’s tallest active geyser. Its major eruptions shoot water more than 300 feet. Only Waimangu Geyser in New Zealand has rocketed to greater heights—but not in more than one hundred years. In Yellowstone National Park’s recorded history, only two other geysers have exceeded Steamboat in size: Excelsior Geyser in Midway Geyser Basin and Sapphire Pool in Biscuit Basin. Steamboat’s minor and major eruptions are entirely unpredictable. We missed the eruption by only a couple days: On September 11, 2021, Steamboat had a major eruption. That was the first one in 65 days. 

Artist Paint Pots were next and I was really looking forward to this stop as many people mentioned this was their favorite trail. Artists Paint Pots is located just south of Norris Geyser Basin. After taking the turnoff from the Grand Loop and parking, you’ll need to walk about half a mile down the trail to the Paint Pots. The name comes from the striking hues of mud and hot spring water hat can be found in this area: red, yellow, emerald, milk-blue.

There were mud pots on top of a steep hill – it was well worth the hike – it was one of the coolest things I have seen.

We swung by Old Faithful and lucked out to see the geyser almost exactly when we got there!

We also had the job of recreating a picture!

We had a brief stop at the Continental Divide.

Then we were off to our last stop before turning around, West Thumb Basin, where we enjoyed lunch overlooking some hot springs and Yellowstone Lake. It was in the top 5 places I have eaten lunch. Everything around Yellowstone seems like another planet I could not get over what the explores must have felt like when they saw these regions!

On the way back we hiked up to see the Grand Prismatic Spring – which I was really excited about. The Grand Prismatic Spring (from Wiki) in Yellowstone National Park is the largest hot spring in the United States, and the third largest in the world, after Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand and Boiling Lake in Dominica. It is located in the Midway Geyser Basin. Grand Prismatic Spring was noted by geologists working in the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871, and named by them for its striking coloration. Its colors match most of those seen in the rainbow dispersion of white light by an optical prism: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue.

After a harder than anticipated hike (especially after a long day of hiking) I got to the top! It was surreal. I was speechless and enjoying the view when I noticed to my left two couples not dressed like anyone else there and realized they are influencers. There was a hipster couple in overalls and wheat to put in their mouth and then a super fit couple who looked like “Hiker Barbie”. It was shocking how many pictures they were taking, even putting on makeup but not once did any of the models even look at the marvel that was their backdrop 😞

We finally made it to the car after a long day (and we even cut out a couple spots like West Yellowstone and one last hike at sunset. We were so sad when we go into the car and realized that with the extreme heat and the sun beating on the windshield that we must have had a rock chip that became a long crack – right at eye site. I wish I could say this was our bad luck but it was about to get much worse.

We got on the road and noticed the bison were very active…which was foreshadowing for our long night to come.

After only a couple miles we came to a traffic jam. We did not move for about 20 minutes and pulled out the map since we did not have service in the park. We were excited to see that our luck had turned around, this was one of the only places in the park that had a different route where we could go around the traffic jam. We turned into Firehole Lake Dr feeling clever.

We were almost back to the main road when we hit a bridge wrong and a HUGE bolt punctured our tire-we could hear all the air hissing out as soon as it happen.

Luckily, I was with an Eagle Scout and Derek started changing the tire calm and collected as I waved cars by…everyone stopping to ask if we needed help ❤️ A couple from Helena stopped to offer their massive car Jack – which saved us having to use our tiny one ❤️

Within 30 min we are back on the road going slow as our spare was only a donut, luckily we still had plenty of time before dusk…or so we thought.

Right after we changed the tire we hit a “Bison Jam” (a bison herd in the road that has traffic backed up for miles) We ended up sitting in that traffic for nearly 3 hours!!!!!

It finally was cleared by rangers as the sun dipped below the mountains. The next couple hours were the most stressful of our lives, driving for 2 hours through the dark wilderness, white knuckling it through curvy roads knowing there could be Buffalo, Elk or pot holes waiting for us. 

We pulled into our camp at 10 pm with great relief. The next day we would get the tire patched down the road and be back in the park without skipping a beat. One of my favorite takeaways from the day was saying to Derek “how can we be so lucky sometimes yet in the next moment so unlucky??” He said without a beat “that is life” 🤔 very true! 

Lucky everything worked out and it was heart warming for so many strangers to offer their help ❤️ 

Additional places that I wanted to go but we did not have time. Excited to try them next time!

  • Firehole Bar-B-Que 120 Firehole Ave, West Yellowstone, MT 59758 (Opens 4 PM) 1.15 Hours from West Thumb Geyser Basin of Lake Yellowstone
  • Grant Village: Grant Village was built in 1984 and named after Ulysses S. Grant, president when Yellowstone became the world’s first national park in 1872. Located near the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake, Grant Village features 6 two-story buildings each containing 50 rooms, none have elevators. The lodging complex features a full-service restaurant, a lakeside restaurant with a casual menu, lounge and gift store.

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