Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in America, is famous for its geysers. But when you visit Yellowstone, you will find it has so much more to offer than just geysers.
When I couldn't book any flight to Jackson, Wyoming on the date I wanted, I chose to fly to Idaho Falls, Idaho, never even thought about trying Bozeman, Montana. Nothing wrong with Idaho Falls itself, it's just that the city was so small that the plane serviced there was small too. It was an uncomfortable flight. More on that later.
We camped five nights, two at Madison, three at Canyon campground when we were in Yellowstone. I was surprised at how easy it was to book those campsites two weeks before our trip. Probably because of the high elevation, it could get pretty cold at night in late August (we had 25F one night). I liked both campgrounds. Madison didn't have any other facility, so it felt more peaceful. Canyon Village was a major junction on the park road, so the area was very much commercialized. The campground had laundry (came in handy on those rainy days to dry the sleeping bags) and showers ($3 for as long as you want). Nearby there was Canyon Village Cafe. For a cafeteria inside one of the most popular national parks, I had to say their price was reasonable, and the food was descent. We ate at both Canyon Village Cafe and Lake Lodge Cafe (16 mi south). They were run by the same company. Lake Lodge Cafe's prime rib ($13 for 7 oz) and fried chicken ($8.99) tasted so good we went back the next day.
1. Our campsite at Madison campground.
2. Old Faithful, perhaps the most famous geyser in the world. It erupted every 92 minutes almost on the minute when we were there. At its peak, the water shoot to 100+ feet high, but it quickly went much lower, and stopped totally after about two minutes.
3. Wave Spring in the Old Faithful Area.
4. One of seven bull elks seen near Norris.
5. Beaver Ponds Loop trail, a moderate 5 miles hiking trail in the Mammoth Area.
6. Beaver pond seen on the trail.
7. Bison seen near Mud Volcano. There were so many bison in Yellowstone that you were lucky if you didn't see them every day multiple times. They love to roam on the road, sometimes in the middle of the 2-lane park road, causing traffic to back up in both directions. It's very exciting to drive slowly past a bison on the road the first time. They are just huge. But when you have to sit in traffic several times a day because bison like to take a stroll on the road, or can't decide which side of the road has better grass, the excitement runs out quickly.
8. Bighorn sheep seen on Mt. Washburn Trail, a moderately strenuous 6 miles hiking trail in the Tower Area.
9. The Fishing Hole in the West Thumb Area. Local fishermen say you can catch a trout in the lake, swing your rod around and cook it without taking the fish off your hook!
FYI, Yellowstone park map.
(To be continued)