After two nights at the Canyon Village campground, we hooked up the trailer and drove 16 miles south to Fishing Bridge RV Park. This was “true” camping: You could only camp in hard-sided trailers (meaning we couldn’t pop out the beds), and absolutely no tent camping is allowed. There’s a very good reason for this: Grizzlies are many around Fishing Bridge. It also happens to be one of the prettiest areas to stay in the park and a coveted slice of real estate, particularly in summer months.
Our first morning in Fishing Bridge, we were up and at ’em early to drive the southern loop. Originally, we were booked on the Circle of Fire tour but canceled when we found out it was nine hours long. We couldn’t exactly leave the pup behind in the trailer while we were camping in bear country!
So instead, we did our own abbreviated version of the route in probably half the time.
While the northern loop was filled with wildlife, the southern loop’s draw is its volcanically-active nature. The first major stop on our drive was perhaps what the park is most famous for, and I’m just going to say it: I was not impressed by Old Faithful much at all. It’s a lot like interviewing celebrities—so much hurry up and wait. Unfortunately, you can’t very well ask Mother Nature to perform on command, so you could be waiting up to an hour—maybe even longer—for the geyser to do its thing. And well, patience has never been my strong suit (or a trait I possess even in minor quantities). Plus, there were so many tourists there. For as much as we felt like we had the park to ourselves as we cruised on through it, I felt like I was at Disneyland while at Old Faithful.
We sat and waited for a solid half hour before anything happened. Well, that’s not entirely true. Fifteen minutes before it blew its lid, Old Faithful began to smoke silently, as if taunting the crowd, implying a show was about to begin.
And then nothing happened for a few more minutes. And then Old Faithful began to burp at random, emitting a few gargles that were quite unbecoming and unladylike.
And then another 15 minutes passed. Finally, it was time.
And, folks, well, I wish I could say the result was mind-blowing, but in actuality, it was a stream of hot water that shot vertically in the air. I could have mimicked the scenario with a pot of boiling water and a garden hose. We watched for a minute or so, scratched our heads and silently asked each other “that was it?”—telepathy is one of the strengths of our relationship—and went back to our geyser tour of the park. Truthfully, I found Strokkur in Iceland far more impressive.
But luckily, our next stop redeemed geysers in my eyes (I know they were worried), as it was by far my favorite site in the park. We drove through Upper and Midway Geyser Basins, stopping to marvel at paint pots and mini-geysers. Then, when we reached Lower Geyser Basin, we took a picnic lunch and ate down by the gushing river before meandering up the wooden pathways.
When we immersed ourselves into the steam, I wanted to tackle a jumping photo of me emerging through the fog like some sort of Smoke Monster, but alas, the tourons (thanks for my new favorite phrase, Laura) prevented such a feat and instead my endeavors ended with one take.
(At least it was a successful take. And to answer your unspoken question: Yes. I do try my best to match the landscape no matter where I go, as a matter of fact.)
It was a pretty spectacular place. The steam rose from the Earth and encased the landscape. In spots, it was suffocating, like being trapped in a sauna for five minutes too long—or possibly walking through the Haight-Ashbury on an average afternoon.
But the colors in the standing pools were mesmerizing—like the most brilliant shades of Caribbean aquamarine and turquoise; the water was just so crisp and clean.
Muddy arteries snaked their way across the cracked, calloused Earth, as a most unpleasant stench—rotten eggs—protruded from the ground.
The glassiness created by the surplus of rain the area had recently received offered the mirror effect I so wanted to see in Bonneville weeks earlier.
Who knew geothermal activity could be so much fun (other than, perhaps, my geologist mother-in-law)?! I give these geysers two enthusiastic thumbs up!