Our third day visiting Yellowstone. Our plan was to visit some of the sites that we missed because they were too busy for us to get into. Today we stopped at: Gibbon River Falls, Artists Paintpot, Norris Geyser Basin, Lower Yellowstone River Falls and Yellowstone Lake. We got to the park about 8:15 which is about an hour earlier than we had the first 2 days. The line at the entrance was much shorter and traffic lighter.
This drive was along several rivers including the Yellowstone River. There were several waterfalls along the way. The scenery is amazing. We found several geysers along the drive, but most of the drive was full of green trees and grasses. We stopped to visit some mud pot geysers and there were several stops to see colorful geysers.
At the southern end of the park we were at over 8,000 feet elevation and there was lots of snow still on the ground. Here we drove by Lake Yellowstone which is a very large lake and there is a marina. The lake was deep blue.
All along the way we saw bison and elk with an occasional deer running across the fields. At one place, we looked up the river and there was a large herd of bison (our estimate was a couple hundred). Bison were seen lying in areas called a buffalo wallow. A wallow is a place where the bison has worn away the grasses so that they can roll in the dirt to help remove bugs that like to live in their fur.
Generally, we were ahead of the crowds at the different stops. About 11:00 we started seeing the larger crowds.
If you are planning a trip to Yellowstone we recommend:
- Leave the RV parked and drive your car. There are roads where RVs are not allowed, and with the large crowds parking is a lot easier in your car.
- Pack a lunch and plan to stay the day. There are few places that sell food in the park, you will appreciate having your lunch, and there are some great picnic areas.
- Take lots of water, good walking shoes, hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. It wouldn’t be bad to have some bug repellent with you. We didn’t find many bugs on the trails, but when we came across some they were hungry.
- Camera, there are so many great photo opportunities.
- Make sure you have plenty of fuel in your car. There are a few gas stations in the park but you don’t want to run out while sitting in a line to get into a parking lot.
- Don’t rush. The park sits on the Yellowstone Plateau, at an average elevation of 8,000 feet above sea level and the air is thin. Think of yourself as being on “island time”. There are many things that will slow you down – traffic, crowds, bison, and other things. Don’t let the traffic or crowds upset you. Enjoy the moment after all isn’t being in Yellowstone National Park better than most alternatives?
- When you find a restroom, stand in the line, and use the restroom. Restrooms are available in all areas of the park but are not available in every specific stop that you want to make. Restrooms are definitely not available in the miles long traffic jams that are sometimes caused by bison or elk.
- If traveling cross country on a trail remember: grizzly bears have done so well in Yellowstone that they are now off the endangered species list, black bears are numerous, wolf are doing well in the park. The recommendation, travel in groups of 3 or more, bear spray is available in the area and is recommended.