Yellowstone National Park

August 2014

August in Yellowstone National Park, and it was cold. Not freezing-your-ears-off cold, just a bit too chilly and damp for a picnic to be anything other than an ordeal to endure. In the Firehole river valley, every little vent and pool was steaming, the steam billowing up to merge with the solid overcast of the skies.

Despite the weather, the park was quickly crowded with people. When I came through the south entrance about 7:30 in the morning, it felt like I had the place to myself. There wasn't even anyone collecting entrance fees. By 10am, there was no parking left at the Midway Geyser Basin, and cars, buses, and RVs were circling the lot and trying to park along the sides of the road. The roads were crammed with cars, nose to tail, one right after another, trains that went for what seemed like miles.

I didn't see any wildlife. I didn't stay that long. By the time the parking ran out, I was on my way out. Even so, it was lunch time by the time I got to Flagg Ranch, where I could stop and walk, get gas, and grab a burger.

Steaming vents along the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful

Old Faithful is, of course, the most famous thing in the park. So I made a beeline for it. I'm glad I did, based on the size of this parking lot.

A large, nearly-empty parking lot near Old Faithful

After a quick dog walk, it was time to go see what the fuss was about. I didn't have to wait long.

Old Faithful at rest

Old Faithful erupting

Geese wandering very close to the recently erupted geyser

And while I was there, took a look around at some of the other features of the basin.

A view along the boardwalks in the Upper Geyser Basin

The Grand Prismatic Spring

The other big feature I really wanted to see was the Grand Prismatic Spring. Hooo boy, did I pick the wrong day for that.

The edge of the Grand Prismatic Spring, obscured by steam

Water-covered stone ripples in the Midway Geyser Basin

Tourists taking photos of each other in front of the wall of steam rising from the Grand Prismatic Spring

And, just for kicks, a few more shots of the vents steaming in the valley and along the river.

Hot water steams as it trickles into the Firehole River

Pools and vents steam in the Firehole River valley

That, and a lot of lodgepole pine and tourists, was what I saw of Yellowstone.