Exploring Yellowstone National Park

Midway Geyser Basin
Midway Geyser Basin

Day 8: Up and at ‘em Autumn told us with a loud wail at 5am. No one was ready to get up, especially the rest of the campground. Laura and Autumn were up a lot the night before so rather than fight this 5am wake-up call, I loaded her in the car and went for a drive along Yellowstone Lake. We returned around 7am. Autumn stayed in the car and slept and I prepared breakfast for everyone.

We hit the road by 8:40am because we had a lot of exploring to do today. Since Laura and I visited Yellowstone in the winter of 2002 we didn’t see much of the park. Today we were set to visit the most popular spots that Yellowstone has to offer. On a first summer visit to any national park you just have to bite your tongue and go big, meaning visit the tourist spots that made the park a national park. Yes, there will be crowds to deal with but you do your best to enjoy the experience. On your second visit, you aim for the less popular places where you can find solitude.

Our route today took over 10 hours and 120 miles around the interior of the park. Here is a list of spots that we visited.

  • West Thumb Geyser Basin
  • Old Faithful
  • Midway Geyser Basin
  • Firehole Canyon Drive
  • Museum of the National Park Ranger
  • Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls

Honestly, we were all beat by the end of the day. The kids held up pretty good but were ready to get back to our tent to stretch their legs and eat dinner.

Osprey mother and chicks

The highlights of the day include viewing the herd of bison along Fishhold Canyon Drive, viewing the historic Old Faithful Inn, the views all along Firehole and Gibbons Rivers, and viewing a mother and three baby Ospreys at Lower Yellowstone Falls.

Being in Yellowstone is exciting. As the world’s first national park this place just has history written all over it. It’s full of wildlife and geologic activity. There are a variety of ecosystems to explore and hikes to take you there. The evidence of the 1988 wildfires demonstrates how resilient nature can be. Also, the park is very accessible. If you haven’t seen a map of the park, click here to view it. There are a lot of roads that make it easy for visitors to see most of the park. I wasn’t expecting such accessibility to be honest. I come from visiting Yosemite, Mt. Rainier, North Cascades, Death Valley, Joshua Tree National Parks where you really need to set out by foot to see a lot of the park.

All in all it was a great day to be in Yellowstone National Park.