As we were soon to suss out, this trip is all about the rise and shine! We were on the road by 7am, and on the road to a place we couldn’t wait to see – Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone was the first ever National Park in America, and home to grizzlies, elk, eagles and buffalo to name but a few. It is also an active super volcano, with the magma being only 3 miles beneath the surface.
Yellowstone is beautiful. We had a clear, sunny day and set off to visit Old Faithful, named so due to its regular eruptions (every 91 minutes). We didn’t have to wait long, so we wondered around the tourist centre for a little while then found a nice spot to watch the eruption.
The iron compounds in the rocks cause them to be gorgeous red and yellow colours. The smell of sulphur is really strong here. If you walk around a little bit, you can find black trees with white bases, called ‘Bobby Sock Trees’. This is where the trees have drawn up water and left mineral deposits, leaving the tree with ‘white socks’. On our walk we unexpectedly caught another geyser go off too:
Today we’ve been elk and bison spotting. Still no sight of Osprey or moose though (or bears for that matter). We took a hike along the North Rim Trail, past Inspiration Point. The views of the rockface and the falls were just gorgeous, as well as the infamous yellow stone (though apparently the park isn’t named after this, but in fact by the yellow sandstone which was found alongside the Yellowstone river some few hundred miles north of the park).
After our hike, we were driven to a little secluded area, and told to get our swim kits on. A short 10 minute hike down the road led to ‘The Boiling River’, which is exactly what it says on the tin. The Boiling River runs alongside Gardner River, and where the 2 meet creates a spa-like relaxation area in the river where it was the perfect hot-meets-cold temperature. Bliss!
We took another walk to see some hot springs and more geysers, and we saw the most amazing thing. Most of the group followed the path down from the top to the bottom, but 2 of us decided that we wouldn’t make it to the bottom without going to the bathroom first… Jules came with me to keep me company. So our guide drove us down to the bottom where we could stop for a toilet break, and then we could walk up from the bottom to meet the group halfway. On the way down, we were lucky enough to watch a full grown bison cross the road right in front of our van! This, for me, was an absolute highlight of the trip.
Luckily the second night in the tent wasn’t as cold as the first night, but the ground at the campsite was really hard to sleep on – ouch! Not much sleep for us. I started to get bruised in very strange places… The mornings were bitterly cold. It felt like winter.
We also had to hide all our food in bear bins so that the bears weren’t encouraged to shred our tents and ingest every human around. This included things like toothpaste and even plastic water bottles. Welcome to ‘Bear Country’!
You might wanna check out…
Trek America Mountain Trail, Day 1: Seattle to Montana
Trek America Mountain Trail, Day 4-5: Jackson and Grand Teton National Park
Things we learned along the way:
* Always try to have cash on you, as there’s not always a cash point to hand. You’ll have to pay for your excursions a few days in advance to your guide.
* Don’t be fooled because it is summer – if you are camping, there are going to be some COLD nights! Take a pair of gloves (mainly for the chilly early starts) and some thermals. Oh how I wish I had bought my thermals…
* Be aware that each tour guide is different. This was Jules’ second trip and the first time around the tour guide made sure that everyone always had bottled water. This one didn’t, so make sure you keep topped up!
* Be aware that you are expected to tip tour guides, bartenders, waiters and any other persons offering you a service in America. Although this is common knowledge, it isn’t something I’ve ever been aware of before. A good guide is $1 per every alcoholic drink, and a little more for other services (a cab ride, for example, around $5).