In preparation for this day, we had gleaned many tips from various people on how to get the most out of our day(s) at Yellowstone! Some of those tips included: get to Old Faithful before 10am or the parking lot fills up, to beat the crowds you should go early unless you go in the afternoon when people are going home, you should break it up into 2 days doing the east side one day and the west side one day, etc.
SOOOOoooo, we got up at 5am and were on our way by 5:45am. I had made high protein low sugar breakfast cookies for each family to munch on for breakfast while we drove. We all took our picnic lunches and plenty of water. Looking at the weather, it looked like it may be on the chilly side so we dressed accordingly. We later discovered the weather app was wrong, it was a rather warm day!
We got to Old Faithful around 9:30 and took our seat to watch it blow! We waited for approximately 45 minutes. I had no idea what to expect so every little sputter or gurgle made me think that was "it". Boy was I surprised when it actually blew. It was crazy how far that geyser could erupt! It was also fun to experience the reactions of the children. Old faithful gets its name because it "faithfully" spews hot water day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year! God's creation is amazingly incredible.
There was a little museum by Old Faithful so we waited in the "covid" line until they let us in the museum. You could only enter one set of doors and only exit another set of doors. Inside, we learned all about geysers and more of what Yellowstone had to offer. It was a cute hands on museum with a room of activities for the children.
This picture in the museum made me realize just how far we really were from home!
After Old Faithful, we headed to the Prismatic Ponds! By the time we got there parking was scarce. We did find parking in the parking lot but it took awhile. Also, the lines for the bathrooms were long and took about 20 minutes every time someone wanted to "go". They were the primitive no flush kind of potties with no running water unless you were in a store or building such as the museum.
The Prismatic Ponds were amazing. There was a fabulous board walk for you to stroll around the ponds. I longed to touch the water so I slipped my shoe off and dipped my toe in the warm water. Apparently, you aren't supposed to experience the ponds quite that way. I was put in my place rather quickly and in away that wasn't so kind. (Thank you, Karen!) I did see a sign further on the trail that explained why you should stay on the boardwalk. Apparently, people have fallen through and were scalded. So, now I know and so do you! Just stay on the board walk and no one gets hurt and Karen stays quiet.
After the Ponds, we found a quite an almost isolated stream. We had a picnic on the banks and then waded and the children fished. We didn't catch anything but we laughed, had fun and made memories. By the time we left, other people had discovered our spot and wanted in on the fun of a gentle stream and a picnic lunch!
I am so amazed at the blueness of the sky and the purity of the water.
We hopped in our cars and continued on our pursuit of to find the amazingness of Yellowstone. We stopped each time we saw an animal. We stopped when other cars stopped because we thought we might see an animal. We ended up seeing over 100 animals including bear, buffalo, elk, and mule deer. It was amazing to see the animals in their own habitat and not in a zoo somewhere!
Our next stop was the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The parking lot was so full we parked on the road and hiked to our hike! This was an incredible and slightly dangerous hike. We hiked to the falls and then the children wanted to go to the lower falls. My head was starting to hurt a bit (I think it was the elevation) so I headed back to the car. Ben was left with 6 kids. Apparently, the hike to the lower falls was even more dangerous and a teenager had actually died on that hike. The children and Ben turned back before they got to the end. I fully and completely supported that decision. When everyone returned to the car, we were all exhausted and decided to return home.
Of course, we stopped for every animal we saw and stopped at one more store to get souvenirs and a sticker for the trailer.
I drove on the way home because Ben was very tired. I will not lie, I was glad he was doing most of the driving. I was perfectly fine being a passenger but a bit of fear kicked in when I was the driver.
When we got to Cody, we saw a pair of deer right in the city limits. We were told during our stay that the local Dairy Queen once had a moose in their drive through. I can't imagine. Can you?
We went back to the camp and I made dinner for every one. We gathered the children in the cars once more and went into Cody to watch the fireworks. This was a very lonnnnggg day!
We decided against doing more of Yellowstone the next day and instead opted to do a very different adventure that turned out to be the highlight of our trip!