Day 2 Road trip: Idaho Falls to Yellowstone and Gardiner, MT

I almost had this posted last night, but the hotel stopped me from uploading my pictures. So here is our Day 2 (Monday).
Spent the morning with our friends continuing to reminisce over coffee. We hit the road around 11:30 for the West Gate of Yellowstone. Traffic was not bad on the way, or at the gates which was a pleasant surprise.

It has been SO many years since my family went to Yellowstone when I was a child that I had forgotten how truly beautiful this place is. Ever changing landscape, beautiful views and wildlife can pop up anywhere!

Because we were entering through the West Gate, and based on our overnight accommodations for Day 2, we decided to focus on the geysers, springs, and whatever we could squeeze in before heading “home” for the day.

As you drive down through the area, you start to see steam coming out of the ground which means you know you’re on the right path! We made a couple of quick stops for photos at some smaller areas, then jockeyed for position along the side of the road (the parking lot was a madhouse) at Grand Prismatic Spring. Once parked, we walked down and along the river until we got to the bridge. It happened to be a VERY windy day, so as you crossed the bridge and started walking on the boardwalk around the springs here, the wind would shift and it would be all you could do to see. The smoke made you warm and humid and glad when the wind shifted again and you’d catch a small, cooler breeze! The boardwalk goes one way, in a loop to help with foot traffic congestion.

Once we completed the loop, it was back along the river to the car and on our way again. We made a couple more quick stops at some smaller areas, like Flood Geyser. Driving along the river, you can see some steam.

Then it was on to Old Faithful. We found the crowd! The parking lot was a madhouse, people dodging cars left and right. We did get lucky and got a spot right away without alot of driving up and down aisles. Once parked, we headed over to the geyser. Unfortunately we had just missed it, so it took about an hour of waiting in the warm sun (it was about 84 the day we were there) for it to go off. People were chatting, laughing, and at one point, as eruption neared, one end of the crowd started the wave! And at 4:43PM, there she went! The picture here is right as it started. I also have a video of some of it.

Some of my pictures are out of order, so I’ll post based on the order they’re in. As we drove around in between geysers/springs, please note to be very aware that as you get to a meadow, if there is wildlife, people will slam on their brakes, pull part way off the road and jump out right in front of you to see it, so use extreme caution!! But as we drove, we were fortunately to encounter some Bison and Elk close enough to get some decent photos. What an amazing thing to see such beautiful creatures in their natural habitat! We saw a bear butt, once, but that was all for bear, and unfortunately we did not see any moose. But the Bison and Elk made up for it in my opinion!

Once we were done at Old Faithful, we headed north. Note that if you plan to go to any major national parks, you should book your lodging as early as possible, and also note that prices will be much higher than a same named hotel in most other locations. Based on availability and price, we went North to Gardiner, Montana. The drive was a little slow as the road does wind, but the scenery is nice.

As we drove, we came across a turnout for Gibbon Falls so we stopped and admired the view and the falls for a few minutes before continuing on. Passing more lovely scenery on the winding road, we also came across Lewis Falls which were also lovely. We did not stop here though. Continuing on, you can see that the landscape changes to become rocky, and a few more miles up the road you will come to Mammoth Hot Springs. Due to time constraints, we did not stop here this trip, but I took a picture or two from the road. And right at the parking lot we came across more elk – we had to wait as one crossed the road.

Some of the drive to Gardiner, MT

Finally, we arrived in Gardiner and got checked into our hotel. We were quite hungry, and found a little place practically right across the street called The Corral. You walk up to the window and place your order then you wait for your food. Seating is all outdoors. I decided to be slightly adventurous and I tried the elk burger with bacon and cheese and all I can say is YUM! I was pleasantly surprised and would definitely have one again.

After dinner, we went for a walk as we had spotted the Yellowstone sign for the North entrance, and I also knew The Roosevelt arch was here. More pleasant surprises, a male and a female buck – right in town which made for excellent photo ops! It should not have to be said, but DO NOT get too close!!!

While walking back to our hotel, we crossed the river as the sun was setting and I was able to catch the last photo. All in all, a long, but very enjoyable day. Back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

Day 3 will be posted soon which was Gardiner to Yellowstone to Grand Teton to Jackson

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