Aug 2, 2013

Road Trip USA: Yellowstone Day 2

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On July first, 2013 Hannah and I drove across America from Atlanta, Georgia to Portland, Oregon. Here's our adventure!

During our road trip across America we were lucky enough to spend two glorious days in Yellowstone National Park (you can read about the first day there and our road trip across America here). I really wish we had had more time in the park--it was an amazing experience, and there's still so much we didn't see while we were there! However, I really think we made the best of our time there. Hopefully one day Hannah and I get to go back!

Early in the morning of July 6th, after eating breakfast and packing up our stuff, we left our KOA campsite in West Yellowstone and headed for the west entrance. Our first stop was Firehole Canyon Drive, where we saw Firehole Falls. The falls, which are a part of the Firehole River, have a drop of about 50 feet! Our next stop of the day was Lower Geyser Basin, where we saw the Fountain Paint Pots (which--apparently-- are "mud pots") and the Clepsydra Geyser, which was pretty impressive. We were lucky enough to see it erupt while we where there, which was fun!

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After seeing the Lower Geyser Basin we drove south towards the Midway Geyser Basin. The midway basin is definitely worth a look, if for nothing else than to see the Grand Prismatic Spring, which is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world. The hot spring really did look like a rainbow--when we visited, there were vivid orange and brown microbial mats, and the water was a stunning blue-green color. We also saw Excelsior Geyser Crater, whose water was a perfect blue. Unfortunately, the water was smoking so much that it was hard to get a good picture! 

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Our third stop of the day was at Old Faithful. I definitely recommend planning your trip there around the eruptions--it was hard for us to find parking, and we arrived about an hour and a half before the geyser went off! While there we grabbed pizza for lunch at the Lodge (it was super overpriced, but we were starving) and hunted for t-shirts before heading out to see the geyser. We got to listen to one of the rangers talk about the geology of the geyser and the park, which was really interesting! Since we had awhile before the next eruption we walked around the rest of the Upper Geyser Basin, where we saw Chinese Spring and Blue Star Spring. The crowds were beginning to get big (aka massive), so we made out way back towards Old Faithful and set up camp in the front row to watch the eruption. I definitely wasn't as "wowed" as I expected to be (Hannah and I talked afterwards about how we had expected it to be much bigger), but it was certainly worth seeing! 

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The second to last stop for the day was West Thumb Basin, which was probably one of my favorite spots. There was a really nice walkway along the geysers and mud pots (it also went out by the underwater geysers by Yellowstone Lake). There were also fewer tourists here (in my opinion), so it was a little more relaxing. We saw the Seismograph Pool, Lakeside Spring, Fishing Cone, Big Cone, Black Pool, Abyss Pool, and Twin Geyser. As was walked along the pathway the sky started to get really dark, which made for some dramatic pictures! 

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Our final stop was the Black Sand Basin, where we saw the Green Spring, Cliff Geyser, Rainbow Pool, Sunset Lake, Emerald Pool, Spouter Geyser, and Opalescent Pool. We tried to make a last stop at Biscuit Basin, but the storm broke as we were walking up to the pools, so we turned around and headed for the cars! When we got back to West Yellowstone we grabbed some food for dinner at the grocery store and headed to the cabin we were renting for the night. We stayed at a cute little studio which had a pullout couch, queen size bed, and a full kitchen. It was the most expensive place we stayed on our trip, but it was worth it--it was so nice to cook in a real kitchen and relax in something other than a hotel! The owners were also super sweet. The next morning we got coffee from Espresso West, the owner's coffee cart in West Yellowstone. I had an incredible caramel mocha, and Hannah had the best chai tea latte either of us had ever tasted (plus, since we stayed in her studio, the owner gave us our amazing coffee for free! Too cute. She was the sweetest.). 

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