(Ken) May 30, 2013. If you look at the park map, the Old Faithful Geyser Basin was only 29 miles away from our Bridge Bay camp site, so we would be able to pack in a full day of sightseeing after we finished there.
We headed out shortly after the sun rose hoping to see more wildlife along the way. The bison that bedded down in the camp ground had already departed for the day, so we were hopeful that other animals would be on the move also.
Prior to arriving, we had absolutely no idea what a ‘turnout’ was but we were soon to find out. For those who may not know either; a turnout is a pull off on the side of the road or a small parking lot to park and see the beauty of the park.
Well, we didn’t realize they were every 100 yards (or so it seemed) and we were not going to miss a single item of interest! However, if you stop every few feet on a 29 mile drive, how long do you think it will take you?
Along the way, we came across the West Thumb Geyser Basin and made the stop. Right on the shores of Yellowstone Lake, this basin was chock full of just about everything: geysers, paint pots, mud pots, mud springs, hot springs and fumaroles (vents). Spectacular in its own right, we would find that it paled in comparison to what was to come!
Somewhere around 11:00 or 12:00, we finally made it to Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin! By the time we arrived, the parking lot was near capacity. By chance, we noticed they had ‘Fuel Efficient Automobile Only’ parking spaces. This is where a Honda Fit comes in handy – front row parking.
We made the short walk to the Visitor Center and obtained a map of the basin and checked times of all the eruptions and headed for the boardwalk! Yes, boardwalk; because over the past 150 years there have been too many people either try to swim, fall or fall through the fragile ground into 175+ degree waters and boil themselves!
I don’t know why, but I always had the impression that Old Faithful was a single geyser in the middle of a field. Quite the contrary, it is just one of hundreds in the Upper Geyser basin.
The basin, approximately two square miles in area, contains the largest concentration and nearly one-quarter of all of the geysers in the world. A variety of spouting geysers, colorful hot springs, and steaming fumaroles.
Not only is all of this going on, the Firehole River runs right through the middle of the basin. Near ice-cold water flowing directly from the ice and snow melt of the surrounding mountains. It allows for tree and some grass growth in an otherwise dead landscape.
Somewhere around 4:00 P.M., we finally made our way around the entire boardwalk. Our timing was perfect to stand and watch Old Faithful erupt for a second time. Just as awesome as the first; steaming water shooting 100 feet into the air.
We headed back to the car and back to the camp ground; tomorrow will have us hiking into the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, we needed our rest.
Until next time……………Cheers.