Day 10 of our almost 6000 mile road trip … was Day 2 at Yellowstone National Park. Since we rested well the night before, we got an earlier start for our second day. We ate breakfast, loaded up our cooler for a picnic lunch, then headed out to Yellowstone.
It was almost a 45 minute drive from our remote cabin to the West Entrance and because we got there much earlier than the day before, there was quite the line getting in! I had forgotten to take a picture of the sign the day before but I got one this time!
For Day 2, we headed north once we got into the park – since we’d covered a huge part of the southern loop the day before.
It’s hard to comprehend how incredibly large Yellowstone is (3,468 square miles) – and how much of it is remote. We drove for miles and miles and only saw beautiful scenery at every turn. No stores or shops or commercial anything.
In contrast to the Grand Canyon (which we found highly commercialized), Yellowstone is still very much natural and primitive. Here are some of the things we saw during our second day:
The first “major” stop of day 2 was Mammoth Hot Springs. I can’t even explain how fascinating the springs were here. We took the Upper Terrace Drive and were able to get really close to the springs!
From up top, we could also look out over the valley and see Mammoth Hot Springs – which is actually a small town in this part of Yellowstone:
They have a post office, along with a museum, a few small stores, a gas station, a hotel, and you can see Historic Fort Yellowstone. It was a really quiet little town and we enjoyed walking around and exploring. I took pics inside the museum, but they were really nothing special compared to the sites outside. As usual, I took hundreds of pictures and I’ve spent hours trying to narrow it down to favorites, but there’s just not enough time in the day, so those will have to do!
One more thing I should mention is that the elk loved it here. And clearly, they were really really comfortable with the tourists… ha! They were everywhere… grazing, sleeping, laying around – and not even flinching when you got close to them.
After leaving there, one of our next stops was to see Wraith Falls. These falls were not visible from the road and I don’t remember why, but I didn’t make the 1/2 mile hike up with the rest of the family (pics on the left – above). Maybe Asher was asleep in his car seat?!
Either way, while I waited, I spotted a fox! He was too fast for me to get a pic and the kids were disappointed that they missed him, but it was neat to add one more kind of wildlife to the list of animals we’d seen. I remember the fox because of all the blurry pics I snapped with my phone – Richy took the camera with him to get a pic of the falls (pic on the right – above) and also some pics of the kids go got to touch the water 😉
As I mentioned previously, one thing we saw plenty of were bison. There are signs everywhere in Yellowstone about not approaching the wildlife, but apparently, tourists have hard heads because we saw lots of this:
A little farther down the road, we saw more fields – with less tourists 😉
We also saw lots of pretty wildflowers along the way – here are a few I photographed:
And then, probably our most exciting thing of the day… we finally saw a bear!! We had heard that if you want to see a bear in Yellowstone, the best part of the park would be Hayden Valley ( I think that’s what it was called). And sure enough… that’s where we saw him.
Granted, he was really, really far away (which was fine by me), but still – the kids were over the moon!
I don’t know what this geographical occurrence is called (there was probably information about it there somewhere that I have forgotten), but I thought it was really neat looking!
And then… there was snow!! The kids had asked several times throughout the trip if they’d get to play in snow and while it wasn’t ideal – we did stop and let them play for a little bit 🙂 The snow on the left side of the road was too close to the road (where Richy and I are standing), but on the right side, they were able to hike down a bit and play, throw some snowballs … and Joshua even made a snowball to throw at his (hates-to-be-cold) Daddy.. ha!
I can’t remember the exact time, but not too long after this we decided to eat a picnic lunch then start the long drive back toward our cabin. Eating establishments inside Yellowstone are very limited so we wanted to get back to the cabin and have a camp fire and grill burgers for supper.
One thing that they have in abundance inside Yellowstone is beautiful, shaded picnic areas. The kids loved to explore, stretch their legs and get into trouble when we’d stop!
It’s now after 230 am as I write this, so I’m going to have to skip some of the last things we saw on our way back. More waterfalls. More bison. More beauty. We saw the “Grand Canyon of Yellowstone”, the “Brink of Lower Falls”, the Yellowstone River (and touched it)… Just too much to share.
Finally, after a long day, we got back to our remote cabin…
..built a camp fire, cranked up the grill for burgers…
and pulled out the chocolate & marshmallows.
Our cabin was next to a tiny stream with a “bridge” and was set up beautifully for enjoying the outdoors.
The kids really loved hanging out, climbing and exploring, getting wet and playing til dark. Oh and of course, eating s’mores!
And that’s how our 1oth day of vacation ended! Day 11 coming up soon… I hope 😉
If you’ve missed previous posts – catch up on our 6000 mile road trip HERE!