West Thumb Area of Yellowstone National Park

Trip Start Sep 26, 2010
Trip End Oct 01, 2010

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Where I stayed

Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Monday, September 27, 2010

This morning we got up and decided to take a walk around Jackson Hole and take a few pictures before deciding on a place to eat. We walked around until we found E.Leaven Bakery. The smell coming out of the place was amazing. We sat down and ordered. I had delicious cinnamon challah french toast. Everything they serve is made on-site and alot of it is organic and whole wheat.

After breakfast we visited the Life is Good store in downtown Jackson Hole and a few others before returning to the Antler Inn to checkout and load the car. We drove up into Grand Teton National Park, taking pictures along the way at several of the scenic turnouts. I stopped in the visitors center in Moose Junction to get my National Parks Passport stamped.

We took Rt 191 up to Yellowstone National Park. The scenery along the way was amazing! We made stops at the Elk Ranch Flats turnout to get some great pictures of the Teton Mountain Range. We also stopped at the Oxbow Bend Turnout to take pictures of Mt. Moran and the gorgeous fall colors. We made stops at Jenny Lake as well.

The area between Grand Teton National Park and the South Entrance to Yellowstone National Park is the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. It a scenic section of road between the two parks named for John D Rockefeller Jr. who did alot of conservation work for many of our National Parks.

As we entered the South Entrance of Yellowstone National Park we were greeted by Rangers and allowed entrance once we showed our receipt from Grand Teton, they also gave us a map of Yellowstone. The south entrance shows alot of the damage done in the major fires of 1988. There are huge patches of forest that still are barren and the earth is black but out of the ashes of that tragic fire new life has taken root and new small trees and shrubs are growing. The rangers say that fire is actually helpful in Yellowstone as fire forces the lodge pole pine to drop seeds and it opens the forest canopy and floor and allows new nutrients and plants to grow, sustaining new plant and animal life.

Coming in through the south entrance of Yellowstone NP you are surrounded by thick forest everywhere, while there isn't any particular object of interest its a great place to keep your eyes open for wildlife. We decided to see as much of Yellowstone as we could in the limited amount of time we had so we decide to make stops at any scenic areas we came across before going to our hotel in Grant Village.
One of the first stops we made we at Lewis Falls. Its located about halfway between the south entrance and Grant Village. Its right off the main road and very pretty. The falls itself is about 30 foot high and is viewable from a bridge on the roadway or a short hike up to a viewing platform. We took pictures here and right across the street at the Lewis River winding its way through the valley.

The forest starts to open up to valleys the closer you get to Grant Village and the caldera boundary. We bypassed our hotel and went right to the West Thumb Geyser Basin. West Thumb is one of the less frequented geyser basins because it is on the eastern side of the park farthest away from Old Faithful and the rest of the geyser basins. To be honest the geysers in West Thumb do not erupt very often but they are very picturesque and well worth a visit if you are in the area. The West Thumb Geyser Basin features 12 pool/springs, 2 cone geysers, 4 geysers, 2 paint pots and Yellowstone Lake. Some of the more scenic stops include Seismograph Pool, Surging Spring, Blue Funnel Spring, Abyss Pool, and Black Pool. It is about a half mile hike on a boardwalk and is very easy.

One of the first things I noticed about the West Thumb geyser area is the smell, it smells like rotten eggs and for good reason! The cracks in the earth, the geysers, the mud pots all emit trace amounts of hydrogen sulfide gas (rotten egg smell) through steam that rises from the magma in the volcano below Yellowstone's active caldera system. All of Yellowstone's geyser basins smell like this, but don't let it detract you from going, its really not that bad.
After we finished in the West Thumb area we continued on to our hotel in Grant Village. We were staying in the Grant Village Hotel. Its been my experience that the accommodations located within the boundaries of the National Parks are expensive and in-fact the hotels in Yellowstone are some of the most expensive. The other alternatives are to stay outside the park, which would only add more drive time and less time to see the park itself or camp. Since we rented a car and wanted to see as much of both parks as we could we opted to stay inside the park. Grant Village is a nice motel style hotel with the typical amenities of a hotel. None of the hotels in Yellowstone NP have tvs although several have wi-fi connections. Once we were settled in our hotel room we took a walk outside and came across a an Elk eating.

Once we had taken enough pictures we went to the Grant Village Dining Room for dinner. I had a Montana Ranch burger and fries. The food was very good although slightly pricey. This was the only dining option still open in the West Thumb area for the season.
After dinner we made a 20 minute drive over to Old Faithful to take a look around while it was still daylight. We missed the geyser eruption by a few minutes so we walked around a little bit of the geyser basin and through the Old Faithful Inn and shop before returning to our hotel for the night.

Things Learned on Day 2:

1. E.Leaven Food Co. info: http://www.eleavenfood.com/

 2. National Parks Passport : http://www.eparks.com/store/product/22515/*Passport-To-Your-National-Parks*/

3. The drive to Yellowstone National Park from Grand Teton National Park is incredibly scenic and worth stopping at the various turn-outs. The drive took about an hour and a half.
4. John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_D._Rockefeller,_Jr._Memorial_Parkway

5. Yellowstone National Park info: http://www.nps.gov/yell/

6. Yellowstone 1988 Fires: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowstone_fires_of_1988

7. Lewis Falls info: http://gowaterfalling.com/waterfalls/lewis.shtml

8. West Thumb Geyser Basin info: http://www.nps.gov/archive/yell/tours/westthumb/index.htm

9. Hydrogen Sulfide : http://www.wyojones.com/geyserquestions.htm#smell

10. Grant Village Hotel : http://usparklodging.com/yellowstone/grant_village.php

11. Grant Village Dining Room: http://www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/grant-village-dining-room-lake-house-172.html

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