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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Yellowstone National Park: West Side

West Thumb, Yellowstone Lake
Last week, Alex and I took his parents to Yellowstone National Park during their visit to Bozeman. This was my second time (it's been a while), but their first.

We left the house a little after 8:00am and arrived before 10. We went through the West Yellowstone entrance (map) and got in free with Alex's dad's lifetime senior pass (!). There was a huge line into the park, but we bypassed a large chunk with the pass. Unfortunately, the huge lines hardly subsided the entire day. Yellowstone's visitor numbers have doubled over the past few years and July is the busiest month. We tried to skip some of the traffic choosing a Monday, but it didn't work. If I had one complaint it would be the number of people in the park. Alas, Yellowstone can't help it.

Line of cars on the left, people on the right
Traffic was pretty slow, but we made our way to Fountain Paint Pot first. Like a true weirdo, I looooove the smell of sulphur so this was a great first stop.

At Fountain Patin Pot
Afterwards, we drove to Old Faithful. It took eons to find a parking spot. It was hell. I think Alex made up a spot between RVs. Luckily, we saw Old Faithful erupt pretty soon after arriving.

This was the first eruption. The second one was bigger.
Alex and I took a short hike around the geyser, then we all went to the visitor center (where I bought glasses for the eclipse). Next, we went to the lodge for lunch. We sat on the balcony and saw the geyser go off a second time. We were near Old Faithful for about two hours.

West Thumb, Yellowstone Lake
Post-lunch and Old Faithful the group was fading. We knew we wanted to see Yellowstone Lake so we visited West Thumb. It was beautiful! Alex's parents were still getting used to the elevation, so I think we choose the right trails. Nothing too crazy.

West Thumb, Yellowstone Lake
Unfortunately, we didn't have much time for the rest of the park, so we began the drive back through the West Yellowstone exit... along with everyone else in the park.

West Thumb, Yellowstone Lake
Lesson Learned:
If we had it to do over again we wouldn't go in July (ha!) but, honestly, we'd go much earlier in the day OR come late, stay in the park (camping or in a lodge) and get out and about very early the next day. We'd also come in through one entrance and leave through another to cover more ground.

Yellowstone is beautiful and I'm excited that it's so close. We will return, but maybe not until September...

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