Daniel and I waited until today to see the most popular attractions at Yellowstone. You know the ones that I mean – Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Springs, and the other geysers of the Upper Basin area. We figured they wouldn’t be as crowded if we waited until Monday rather than visiting them on the weekend.
Well, we figured wrong. We arrived at the West Entrance gate around 9:30 am to find that it had backed up all the way into the town of West Yellowstone. This was definitely the longest line that we’d seen at the park so far.
We debated briefly about whether or not to proceed and decided to give it a shot anyway.
Honestly, I don’t care very much about seeing Old Faithful. There are so many other amazing things to see in the park that have fewer crowds to contend with. That being said, I felt compelled to see it anyway. It’s just one of those things that you have to see at least in your life.
Technically, I have visited Old Faithful once before. I vaguely recall a trip through Yellowstone with my family when we were on our way to a family reunion. I was 8 years old and don’t remember the trip very well. So it was time for a do-over.
As we approached the Old Faithful carpark, it was clear we were entering a different area of the park. There were so many cars and buildings and endless parking lots. It’s not the Yellowstone that I have come to know and love.
Daniel and I showed up without checking the geyser prediction beforehand and lucked out. We only had to wait about 20 minutes. First a small stream of water jetted into the air and then it turned into a giant plume. It was pretty cool to see. But honestly it wasn’t any cooler than the other geysers at Yellowstone.
And there were so many people! The risers surrounding Old Faithful were packed. That being said, about half of the people I saw were wearing masks. And most family groups sat at least 2-3 feet apart from each other. Many people stood further back and managed to get a good view while still maintaining appropriate social distancing. So it’s not as bad as it could have been.
Firehole Lake Drive
After lunch we planned to see the Grand Prismatic Springs, but quickly abandoned that idea. The parking area was packed and cars lined the side of the road in both directions. We’d had enough of crowds for the day.
So we turned into Firehole Lake Drive on a whim. This turned out to be our best idea of the day. Firehole Lake Drive is a one-way road that winds by a number of lovely geysers and hot springs – and was much less crowded. We really enjoyed it.
Fountain Flats Drive
We also decided to check out Fountain Flats Drive on our way back to West Yellowstone. It’s pretty short and doesn’t have any geysers, but it does have some very scenic views of a river. Also its a jumping off point for some trails.
Where are we now?
Date: July 20
Great American Road Trip Status: Day 15
Location: West Yellowstone, MT
Miles Today: 64.1
Total Trip Mileage: 1669.5
For more details on our Great American (Socially Distanced) Road Trip, see my previous posts: