I've been in Montana for a week and a half now and I'm headed back to D.C. tomorrow. To say this trip was life-changing would be a vast understatement. The first four days were spent at a conference for work that had extremely great response. The following four days were a whirlwind of adventure that I will never forget.
The first I'll post about was my trip to Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is one of the more popular and well-known of the national parks and it did not disappoint.
In the days leading up to my visit I was growing more and more nervous that the winter conditions would ruin my itinerary. Unfortunately, I was correct. The original plan was to drive from Bozeman to the north entrance of the park and drive close-wise around. I would do Uncle Tom's trail, see Old Faithful, and end at the Grand Prismatic Spring with a quick hike. Along the way I would stop at any and all beautiful views I had and I would exit the west entrance.
Well, only a small portion of the road was open so I had to rearrange my plan. I ended up driving from Bozeman to the west entrance because that was the only accessible entrance. The road was only open until Old Faithful and I would have to turn around and drive back out the way I came.
Although I was slightly bummed that I could not do an entire loop, I ended up being blown away nonetheless.
The drive to Yellowstone was beautiful in and of itself. There was a fresh coat of snow that covered all of the trees and the sun was rising directly in front of me over the mountains. I teared up (...again) and continued into the west entrance of the park. The initial road that takes you to the loop is about 14 miles and has varying landscapes with views of mountains, lakes, trees, and rivers. It is honestly just so picturesque and serene and increases excitement for what's ahead.
With my altered schedule I had two main goals: the Grand Prismatic Spring and Old Faithful. So.... I forged on.
Along my way to the Grand Prismatic Spring I stopped off to enjoy an extremely blue river and I just walked along for about a mile or so to enjoy the snow. I got back in my car as it was getting later in the morning and I wanted to beat the crowds.
I parked at the Midway Geyser Basin and followed the crowds to the trail that led me to the spring. I followed the platform and was in awe with how beautiful the spring was up close. Because of the cold weather there was a wall of steam over the spring which made the colors even more beautiful and drastic.
After I slowly and carefully completed the loop I set off for my next view of the spring from above. If you drive up the road about another mile there is a parking lot on the right for the Fairy Falls trail. At this trailhead there is a sign to see the Grand Prismatic Spring from above. It ended up being about 2.2 miles round trip and only elevates you a couple hundred feet so it is very easy.
The views were fantastic!! I ended up just sitting up there for a good while looking at the beautiful scenery.
After that I continued south to Old Faithful. The Old Faithful area is densely populated with lodges, visitors centers, restaurants, and stores. It was extremely easy to find and parking was relatively easy even though it was quite busy.
I got there just in the neck of time! I could tell the geyser was bound to go off soon with how many people were there. I noticed the left side was getting the fog and smoke so I went around to the right side and found a spot to stand right up front. Within 3 minutes of me standing there it went off! There were cheers and it was just fantastic to see up close.
After some souvenir shopping I started driving back the way I came. I stopped a few times to enjoy some different views along the way. I stumbled upon a ton of bison and even had a few run right alongside my car.
It was an extremely successful first adventure of my western-saga. The views are simply stunning. There is so much diversity in the landscape and more natural beauty than I've ever seen. More than once I was moved to tears and felt simply blessed to have the opportunity to visit. I went to sleep for a few hours before waking up for the next adventure.... Grand Teton National Park (stay tuned).