We started this morning with a walk around Gardiner, Montana, where we camped out last night. It’s a pretty small town just outside the North entrance to Yellowstone. There were a bunch of interesting shops, mostly catered to rafting and fly fishing, since the town is right on the river. It was after 11am by the time we decided to head into the park.
We stopped in at the visitor center and I, of course, had to get some postcards and one of the National Park “coins”. While we were there we looked at the map and found out it would be about a two hour drive to the South end of the park to check out Old Faithful, which was our main goal for today. It’s only a 48 mile drive, but much of the road is under construction and many other parts have low speed limits. Along the way, there are many pull-offs with things to see and we stopped at a few.
Eventually, we actually made it down to Old Faithful. We got there almost right in the middle of the time between eruptions. It erupts every two hours, plus or minus 10 minutes. We had about an hour to waste, so we walked around and checked out the junk at the gift shops and whatnot. There’s a surprising number of people who sit out and wait for the geyser to erupt. It’s funny to me because essentially we were all just there to see some hot water get blasted into the air. It was pretty nifty and I was surprised that it kept going for around five minutes; I figured it was gonna be much shorter.
We left the park around 6pm and headed out the West entrance, which leads back into Montana to a town called West Yellowstone. It’s a pretty small town and we were able to walk around the entire place pretty quickly. While looking for a spot to park the van for the night, we saw some other campers parked on the side of the road and after talking to them, they told us they were actually staying in a cabin right across the street that night and weren’t using the parking space for it, so they said we could park there. We thought it was really cool of them and ended up thanking them three or four times before we headed back out to walk around town some more.
We had dinner and some drinks at a place called Wild West Pizzeria and Saloon (14 Madison Ave, West Yellowstone, Montana). Pretty darn good pizza, would definitely recommend it to anyone, and they had some live music… even if it wasn’t the best in the world. A group of Chinese tourists next to us seemed to think it was good, and who can argue with that? They went full honky-tonk up in that place.
I forgot to mention it yesterday, but we drove through the Lewis & Clark National Forest on the way here, then later on drove through the Gallatin National Forest, but I wasn’t able to get a pic of the sign. Le sigh.
I have to admit, I thought Yellowstone would have been the most exciting part of this trip so far, but I don’t think it even compares to Glacier National Park. I like all the unique features that are here, but there’s a certain beauty to Glacier that’s hard to beat. I love the mountains, I love the green, I love the cliff-side drive, and I especially love the lake views with cascading waterfalls in the background. Granted, out of all the days up to this point, my favorite has been our random day in Minnesota when we went to the Rusty Bucket and later the Woodtick Theatre. Such a pleasant, unplanned day.