Gaga for Geysers in Yellowstone

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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!

COMMENTS
  • June 27, 2011
    SVV

    Would you say Old Faithful was more like Ryan Reynolds or Woody Harrelson?

    • June 27, 2011
      Kristin

      I’m going to go with Woody–a bit stoned, rough around the edges, somewhat of a letdown. Ryan was more like Fountain Paint Pot–pretty, an unexpected yet pleasant surprise–if I had to make a geyser comparison.

  • June 27, 2011

    Love!

    Also, random side note–I was at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago last week and there was a girl there trying to get a jumping photo on the steps leading up to the entrance. Not sure if you inspired her or what, but she’s got nothing on your jump skillz. Heh.

    • June 27, 2011
      Kristin

      I don’t mind being mimicked, as long as I’m still better. HA.

      (And yes I realize I didn’t actually invent the jumping shot, though I’d like to think I perfected it! Or am close to, at least.)

  • June 27, 2011

    These photos are great. I loved the geysers there, though Old Faithful was probably my least favorite because of the crowds. Felt like I was at Disnelyland (I love Disneyland, btw, just not in a national park).

    • June 27, 2011
      Kristin

      Why is it so famous? I am still miffed by that. I’d say I loved every other facet of Yellowstone more than I did Old Faithful–by leaps and bounds.

  • June 27, 2011

    I was also completely underwhelmed by Old Faithful, and I only sat there for 10 minutes before she erupted. Some of the others though? Fantastic!

    xox

    • June 27, 2011
      Kristin

      Glad I’m not alone! Did you have nice weather while you were there? Finally escape the Salt Lake monsoons? =)

      • June 28, 2011

        It was cloudy and overcast and a bit chilly, but it didn’t rain! I’ll take it! (Sidenote: it is now in the mid-to-upper 80’s here and I find myself missing the clouds and the rain and the cooler temps. Sigh.)

        xox

  • June 27, 2011

    How lovely! I love the contract between the texture of the ground and the water. It’s like two different planets.

    And you do take one badass jumping picture.

    • June 27, 2011
      Kristin

      Why thank you. I’d like to think so! 😉

  • June 27, 2011

    Beautiful colors, rotten egg smell? Yuck. Thanks for stopping by my website… you should visit Telluride someday, it’s beautiful. If we’re ever in the same place at the same time, I could probably finagle a helicopter ride for you. Happy travels 🙂

    • June 27, 2011
      Kristin

      I would love to go up in a chopper with you! Can we bring the pooches? =)

  • June 27, 2011

    I also wasn’t overly impressed by Old Faithful. It’s all hype, and conveniently close to the Lodge. I’d rather watch you jump. There is so much more to Yellowstone. I also remember the rotten egg smell which permeated everything.

    • June 27, 2011
      Kristin

      We can arrange that. I’m like a circus monkey…I perform on command for chocolate (or simply applause…I’m an easy sell, apparently).

      • June 27, 2011

        I always have dark chocolate kisses on hand and would also applaud. Does this mean you’re coming to the North Rim?

        • June 28, 2011
          Kristin

          I wish that were possible! Unfortunately, we’re going to be in Flag for two quick nights and the North Rim is just too far a drive for such a short visit. Rain check?

          • June 28, 2011

            Too bad it’s such a quick trip. When will you be in Flag? You two are always welcome to visit.

  • June 28, 2011
    Mister Sister

    Yeah.. mom was a little too excited with the Old Faithful thing. I never told her, but I wasn’t impressed either. Couldn’t break her little heart!

    • June 28, 2011
      Kristin

      Really? Well, that shouldn’t surprise me–LOTS of things excite her =)

  • June 28, 2011
    sbc

    My husband was quite disappointed by old faithful as well, so I told him ” it is named old faithful not old powerful”. That said we have a much better time exploring the other less crowded thermal features & love spending time in Lamar Valley.

    • June 28, 2011
      Kristin

      Good point. At least it is, in fact, “faithful.”

      Lamar Valley was also my favorite part of the park–well, I’d say it tied with Lower Geyser Basin!

  • June 28, 2011
    Jessica L.

    Ha! Seems to be a running theme with Old Faithful. We went through Yellowstone on our way out to Idaho and Old Faithful was the last stop, needless to say 2 tired and hungry people weren’t waiting around for something to happen. And after seeing all the other amazing sights we managed to cram into those two days, we didn’t fee like we were really missing anything. The only photo we have is standing in the viewing area with that fog in the background, my husband wrote on the back “Old Faithful being a jerk”, which kinda summed up how we felt.

    • June 28, 2011

      Bwahahaha! “Old Faithful being a jerk” is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard about geysers…I almost snorted soda out my nose!

      xox

    • June 28, 2011
      Kristin

      Oh man, I think I need to meet your husband. That is hilarious! He and I would make stellar travel companions =)

      • June 29, 2011
        Jessica L.

        Yeah he keeps it real…..real interesting! And anytime you guys need some extra people to keep things entertaining on your travels count us in!

  • June 28, 2011

    yeah, I think old faithful must have a great publicist.
    But those colors are amazing!! Its so neat that those colors happen organically in nature.

    • June 28, 2011
      Kristin

      HAAA! That’s the best reason I’ve heard for Old Faithful’s fame, ever.

  • June 28, 2011

    The colors are amazing!

  • June 29, 2011
    Bruce

    Although I’m not well traveled, Yellowstone was my 2nd best vacation experience (behind Hawaii of course:). I love the spectacle of color and the variety of wildlife….especially the free-roaming buffalo..er bisons.

  • June 29, 2011

    Awesome! Old Faithful brings back some memories for me… It was here at 3:30 PM MDT on September 11th, 2001, that my friends and I found out about the events back east. Someone mentioned it sitting behind us waiting for the geyser to erupt. It’s a testament to Yellowstone’s remoteness that it wasn’t until 8 hours after the even that we found out about it.

    On a lighter note, as much as I like the Upper Geyser Basin around Old Faithful, I really love The Norris Geyser Basin.

    Thanks for the suggestion on Geogypsy, too. Great Blog. I have 137 in my reader, so I really didn’t need anymore, but I’m glad to have found this one 🙂

  • June 29, 2011

    Ha! All three of Kali’s parents have degrees in geology, so you can imagine what dinner conversations are like. 😉 Actually, it’s kind of handy having folks around who know everything about rocks, or at least enough to B.S. a response if they don’t know.

    Love the way the steam looks blue in one of those photos… and the incredible blueness of all those pools!

  • May 6, 2012

    Love the photos! I’m so ignorant with geysers! I’ve never seen one before!

  • May 16, 2012

    I love these stunning photos. 🙂 Wow. The colors are amazing!!!

  • May 22, 2012

    Gorgeous pictures! Interesting you found Old Faithful so underwhelming. I remember seeing it as a kid and thinking it was the COOLEST thing. I’ll have to go back as an adult now and see if I still find it as amazingly awesome. 🙂

    • May 22, 2012
      Kristin

      Oh, I’m sure as a kid I would have thought it amazing, too! Maybe I’m just jaded in my old age? 😉

  • May 28, 2012

    It’s been a few decades since my family visited Yellowstone. Thank you for reviving the memories.

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