In mid-October of 1995, after our annual trip to Gillette, Wyoming to hunt Antelope, we decided to drive over to the western part of the state to visit Yellowstone National Park. It was an 8 hour drive from Gillette to Cody, much of it through the scenic Bighorn Mountains. Yellowstone is an incredible park - there is so much to see and do there - beautiful mountain and lake scenery, geysers and other thermal features, and wildlife.
We stayed at the Old Faithful Inn, the only place within the park that was still open in October. This was the last weekend before they closed for the season. October was a nice time to visit the park - it was not very crowded and the snow and cold weather seemed to enhance the scenery. We stayed in a room overlooking Old Faithful Geyser, so every hour or so, we could look out our window and see it go off!
Geysers Of the Upper Geyser Basin
The first morning we ventured out to photograph Old Faithful. Old Faithful is only one of a number of geysers in the Upper Geyser Basin. We took a leisurely walk along a trail that passed by a number of geysers, and saw many of them erupt. Each geyser has a different schedule and length of eruption - and they erupt with differing regularities. We saw one that erupted for several hours.
A colorful Hot Spring Pool
Also, along the trail are other thermal features, such as colorful hot spring pools. The most famous of these is Morning Glory Pool - with colors resembling the Morning Glory. The cold weather enhanced the steam coming from these pools and geysers and made them an even more spectacular sight.
A shot from the edge of Old Faithful Geyser Basin
Later in the day, we took a ride on the main road that forms a loop around the park. We stopped at a number of points around the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. This area is one of the most beautiful spots in the park. The canyon is very colorful and there are several waterfalls along the Yellowstone River. We took several short hikes, one of which descended to the bottom of one of the waterfalls. It started to snow on one of the hikes and it was interesting to see parts of the waterfalls that were starting to freeze.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River
As it approached dusk one evening, we drove to the north end of the park, towards Mammoth Hot Springs. We had read that this stretch of road was a good place for spotting elk. We were not disappointed - we saw a large bull elk eating grass at the side of the road. When we arrived at the town of Mammoth we were amazed - this town appears to have more elk residents than humans. They were everywhere - on peoples lawns, in front of the post office... it was really an amazing sight. Along the roads in the park we also saw a wolf, many buffalo and some moose. Yellowstone is truly a great place for watching wildlife.
One of the Park Regulars
As we headed back to our hotel on our last evening in Yellowstone, we noticed that it was starting to snow quite heavily. When we awoke in the morning, we discovered that it had snowed over 9 inches and all of the roads in Yellowstone were closed. We were quite concerned, since this was the last day the Old Faithful Inn was open and we were scheduled to fly out of Salt Lake City early the next morning. We packed up the rental car and headed out to the road were we were stopped for about 4 hours until the road was opened. We left the park at 2pm and proceeded to drive south through Grand Teton National Park. The Grand Tetons also provided spectacular scenery, as did the drive south through Jackson and the Wyoming Rockies. We were disappointed when the sun went down since we missed out on more beautiful scenery.
The Grand Tetons
As we flew home, we promised ourselves we would return to Yellowstone one summer when we would have time to see even more of this incredible place.
If you would like to plan a trip similar to this one, here are some useful links: