Sunday, August 25, 2019

Yellowstone: Old Faithful

Buffalo Run RV Park
Island Park, ID
July 25, 2019

Island Park, ID was the next stop on our summer vacation.  I made reservations with plans to visit three places in Yellowstone NP...Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Lamar Valley.  Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans !  I didn't do my research... little did I know that Island Park has the longest Main Street in the world (so they say).  It is 33 miles long ! 

Since Buffalo Run, our RV park, was on the extreme western end of Main Street, it added 33 miles distance to planned eastern bound destinations. So, trips to Mammoth Hot Springs 80 miles (2 hours) away, Lamar Valley 104 miles (2 1/2 hours) away were cancelled.  We decided Old Faithful at 64 miles (1 and 1/2 hours) away was a must do.

Yellowstone NP archives photo taken in May, 2012
Back in May of 2012, Joe and I rode the Harley form Cody to Yellowstone so I can't say 2019 was our first visit to our country's first national park. 

Yellowstone NP archives photo taken in May, 2012 

The east entrance had just opened that day.  We saw a frozen Yellowstone Lake and lots of bison.

Old Faithful has been on the "I must go there list" for a long time.  Geysers are rare features.  Only about 1,000 exist in the world with more than half of those located in Yellowstone. 

So, on the morning of July 25 we set out at 5:30 was a chilly 34 degrees... hoping to beat the crowds.  We enjoyed a nice sunrise along the way.

Once in the park, the drive was amazing...

Old Faithful parking lot...
We saw a moose cross the road and a bison grazing beside the road, but pictures were blurry.    
And we arrived to an almost empty parking to a good start !

We had Old Faithful all to ourselves !

From here we had an interesting walk (5 miles RT) with Morning Glory Pool our destination.  We took the counterclockwise direction.  In 1982, The Old Faithful Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Old Faithful Inn opened in 1904 and the entire area encompasses 160 acres.      

I was surprised to find that geysers have names.  I  don't remember most of those of names, but a few did stick out.

Grotto Geyser is the most unusual thermal feature in Yellowstone.

Giant Geyser is a cone shaped geyser and the second tallest geyser in the world.  
Tardy Geyser is a fountain-type geyser.  The water is cooler in the dark orange band and more bacteria can live there making the color so vivid.  The "microbial mats" are orange and red in the summer and usually dark green in the winter.  The color depends on the temp of the water (around 149 degrees) in the summer making it cooler than the water closer to the center.  That cooler water is home to more and different bacteria than those found near the eruption site.
Nature...not only art, but easy cool too!
Riverside Geyser is located on the Firehole River.  It is also a cone-type geyser.  
 A Ranger arrived and said the geyser would erupt at anytime, so we waited.  The gurgling was a sure sign and Riverside Geyser is a relatively predictable he said.

I am so glad we waited (maybe 20 minutes or so). It shoots  steam and water to about 75 feet and its duration is about half an hour.  It was picture perfect as the water arched over the river. My first geyser eruption !

Morning Glory Pool is a hot spring also located in the Upper Geyser Basin. It was named "Convolutus" in 1883...the Latin name for the morning glory flower.  That name didn't stick long as it was soon referred to Morning Glory Pool...thank goodness !  

The gorgeous aqua color at the center is just above the underground water source and that is where the temps are the hottest...up to 189 degrees.  The water is too hot for most bacteria, therefore it is very clear water.  When light hits the water, it looks blue since blue light scatters the most.  It is so sad to read the "interpretive signs" placed at the pool that discuss the damage caused by ignorance and vandalism.  It seems objects thrown into the pool have reduced the hot water supply and in turn is fading the beautiful aqua color.  

 It was such a wonderful morning...the air was crisp,  the skies were blue,  the colors were stunning, and we didn't even mind the occasional "stinky" smells as we took our time exploring Upper Geyser Canyon.  Our reward at the end of the walk was an erupting Old Faithful !
And what a difference a few hours makes !

On the way home, we took a short side spur to see Fireside Lake Road. 
Fireside Lake
Young Hopeful Geyser
Great Fountain Geyser on Fireside Lake Rd. is the only Lower Geyser Basin feature that the park makes predictions for.
White Dome Geyser on Fireside Lake Rd. erupted just as we were driving by.   
So Yellowstone was not a total bust.  And I have lots of information for when we return next time for a visit to the north park.  Our stay in Island Park, ID turned out to be a busy week as there is lots to see and do in the area.  More on that next time.

I will close with a few more pictures from our West Yellowstone visit...
Old Faithful

Firehole River
Beauty Pool

Until next time,



  1. I love when someone visits Yellowstone and shares lots of photos. I just love this park. There is so much diversity between the wildlife, geysers, hot springs, and hiking. Never a dull moment. I don't think that most people realize just how far the main features are in Yellowstone. Getting to the gate means nothing. It's still about 30 miles to see anything. Definitely takes a LONG time to visit all of the park. We've been three times and I still have lots I'd like to do. You did a great job with your one day. How exciting to see so many geysers erupt! Beautiful photos! Visiting on the motorcycle is a great way to take in all the sights and smells. John didn't enjoy the motorcycle and the buffalo, though...Haha!

  2. Wow! So cool that you got to see those "extra" geysers erupt! Yellowstone is in our backyard and we seldom go--my husband hates crowds. I still love to go to the Park as we call it. And yes, it does take a long time to get to anything in the Park. So glad you enjoyed your visit!

  3. We were able to find campsites for 5 days within the park, sure helped with the travels. It's an amazing destination, you've captured it nicely in your photos.

  4. Great pictures, we have been there at least five times but clearly we have to go back!!

  5. How timely! I just put together a slide show today of our last visit to Yellowstone several years ago. I had spent a week there at a photography conference hosted by the Photographic Society of America and we toured the park all five week days. Great memories!