Yellowstone Day 3

Trip Start Jun 12, 2012
Trip End Oct 18, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Monday, July 23, 2012

We had a good but short sleep last night because we got up just before 6am. We had to do a bit of driving south so we didn't even have a proper breakfast before we left the campground. Our first stop was back at Norris Geyser Basin which the weather had thwarted the day before. We did a longer loop this time past a number of thermodynamic displays. There are 4 types of hydrothermal events: mud pots, hot springs, geysers and fumaroles (steam vents). We saw them all at Norris except the mud pots. My favourites were the Dragon’s Cave and the colourful hot pools.

Passing Norris, we made a stop at the Artist’s Paintpots which finally held some white mud pots bubbling away along with some other hot springs and fumaroles. It’s a somewhat indescribable feeling being in such a place where the smell of sulphur fills your lungs and you ears are filled with the hissing, bubbling, gurgling and steam of all the things around you. Yellowstone has more of these types of attractions than anywhere else in the world combined! It isn’t hard to see a dozen or more of these things in a single place.

There was a quick stop at Gibbon Falls before we drove past Old Faithful geyser and over the continental divide twice to the campground at Grant Village. We got there at 11am which was pretty good and certainly the earliest I have ever gotten to a campground, but also very necessary. When we arrived they had one site left, but we had to wait an hour to be certain that they would checkout. We had a bite to eat and returned to check-in and set up the tent. This is the first campground we have stayed in that is outsourced to Xanterra and twice as expensive as Mammoth! Nevertheless, we were glad to have a place to stay for the night.

We decided to drive back to the geysers which we had missed along the way. First we drove to Grand Prismatic Spring at Midway Geyser Basin.  There was a bridge across the river which revealed the Crater Spring and the very large Grand Prismatic Spring. As we were coming back across the river, there was a large bull bison which was walking along the road and stopping all the traffic! Next we travelled to Black Sand Basin which had a small geyser next to the river and two large hot pools with very colourful waters. It’s amazing how many hydrothermal sights there are to see in Yellowstone. It never gets old.

Finally it was time for the main attraction and we drove to the very busy and popular Old Faithful Geyser. There is an entire village setup around the geyser which erupts around every 90 minutes. We just missed the last eruption, so we had to wait until 4:23pm when it erupted precisely on schedule. The show lasted 5 minutes and the water was at its peak in the first minute. There were so many people around waiting and watching the geyser, it was a real spectacle. We had a look in the historic Old Faithful Inn which has a giant fireplace spanning 4 stores in the old wooden lodge.

Driving back to our campsite we crossed the Continental Divide for the 6th time that day and the 9th time on our entire trip! I doubt that anyone has crossed the Continental Divide as regularly as we have on this roadtrip. Our site didn’t have power, so we came up with the brilliant idea of sitting outside the toilet block with an extension cord and ripping off the power from the campground. We had many people congratulate us on our idea!
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