Yes, you read that right.
Yellowstone in one day.
We stayed two nights in a quaint campground in Sheridan, Wyoming. Peter D’s was selected after reading reviews on Allstays. Again, a solid choice and we are now 3 for 3 using this app! Campground had easy access to I-90, for heading to Yellowstone and heading back east to get home, sadly this was the final leg of our vacation.
Driving to Yellowstone wasn’t terrible, but Sheridan is not close to be a Yellowstone area home base. We chose this location for a single day trip, trying to avoid taking the MH into the Bighorn or Rocky Mountains.
On our drive, we saw this guy, only moose siting of the trip. This image doesn’t really do justice to the leg length these animals have!
This will be a long post, sorry. But there is a LOT to do inside Yellowstone. Having our day there will benefit planning future visits. Like, the entrance we departed (Northeast using Beart Tooth Pass) is not for the lighthearted (or motorhome driving).
Our first stop inside of the park was to play on a snow field; Tripp was so excited to play in the snow in June and so was Lizzie.
Shortly after we passed snow, we experienced our first Bear Jam! At the campground in Wall, a couple told us they had visited Yellowstone on multiple occasions and never drove by a Bear Jam! We were pretty lucky, then! The first jam of the day (yes, first!!) was for a young grizzly bear. The park ranger said it was probably about two years old. If it was only two, it was HUGE! We took turns letting Tripp spot the bear, while the other ensured Lizzie didn’t try to go visit the bear or even look for it.
The binoculars Papa Jack gave Tripp many years ago came in very handy throughout vacation, but were particularly helpful spotting bears all day long.
By 9am, we had played in snow and spotted a grizzly bear. Not to shabby!!!
One thing we had our heart set on was to see Old Faithful. After leaving the bear jam the vastness of the park was apparent when we saw our first directional sign toward the geysers…..58 miles to Old Faithful site! Wow….so this explains everyone’s strange looks when we had said we were going to visit Yellowstone for a day.
Onward we drove, toward Old Faithful. With several stops along the way.
Looking onto Yellowstone Lake, there were some active geysers under the overlooks in this area.
A couple of male buffalo roaming around, we saw a few people creep up really close to these guys so we scurried back to the car; not so much interested in experiencing natural selection at its finest on our last day of vacation before heading back home.
Another scenic overlook, one of many beautiful waterfalls that are flowing from the snow runoffs.
When we stopped at this waterfall, Roy basically told us we needed to speed up our pace:-) It was around lunchtime when we arrived at Old Faithful and we still had a lot of park to cover!
Old Faithful tip: There are several different parking areas around Old Faithful. Thankfully, our toad is a small Corolla so we have the luxury of being able to park in small spots. We still had to circle around those lots for a LONG time before we found an empty spot. There are at least two lodges in this area, which would be nice to be close to the eateries and store. However, because of the parking difficulties related to so many people visiting Old Faithful, I’m not sure I would recommend staying here. It was unclear to us if there was dedicated parking for those lodging here.
What we didn’t realize is we were minutes prior to the next eruption. Once over, the parking lot cleared out and we had no trouble. Now the problem was, how long were we waiting around?????
No worries! At this point, Lizzie was tired of riding with quick stops here and there (dogs aren’t allowed on hiking trails and we certainly didn’t want her to have a run in with buffalo or bears, so between Roy and I, we took turns walking with Tripp to see various sites). There were lots of areas around Old Faithful we could let her exercise and play; she just wouldn’t be able to visit the Information Center.
In this general area there is a huge store, a few different eateries, at least two lodges and an Information Center. Roy and Tripp scouted out a picnic spot for us, let Lizzie play around for a bit and I grabbed sandwiches at a quick service counter. Roy was ecstatic to enjoy a local beer while we waited for the eruption.
This image of Old Faithful erupting explains the parking woes we experienced…..this is probably about 25% of the people watching. It was really cool to watch this process. Right about the time predicted for the next eruption, she started gurgling and it was probably 5 – 10 minutes before the geyser reached this height!
After the Old Faithful show was over we decided an ice cream treat and a few souvenirs were needed; so we let traffic disperse while we shopped. There were some other geysers close, so we wanted to see what the smaller ones looked like. They were so beautiful!
We were amused that so many signs were posted warning people to not jump into the geyser pools. It seems like common sense, but I guess not to some.
We continued to drive toward the Northeast exit; Roy settled on a different path home than we drove in. (See our tip below, on the route we chose). Passed another waterfall, passed HUNDREDS of real buffalo (I’m going to post a lesson on the different buffalo we experienced) and around some really beautiful mountain passes. The scenery was absolutely amazing and we were convinced that when we return to Wyoming, it needed to be at least a 2 week stay. We couldn’t take any excursions with Lizzie, but there were tons of places to raft, canoe/kayak, hike and fish. To say that Yellowstone is the crown jewel of the National Park System is so true!
After hours of exploring Yellowstone, trying to judge our arrival time back in Sheridan and discussing plans for our next Wyoming visit; we turned a corner in the road and our second bear jam was before us!
This time, a black bear was spotted and was close enough to take some very clear pictures.
It was getting late, so we decided we needed to get back on the road to avoid driving through the Mountains in pitch dark; but what a great way to end our last stretch inside Yellowstone!! Two bear sitings in one day, we were beyond pleased with our day.
After we exited the park via the Northeast entrance toward Red Lodge, we were driving along a highway called Bear Tooth Pass. It was amazing! At the peak, altitude was about 12,000 feet. Roy really enjoyed the drive, but looking up to see where we would soon be driving, with at least five layers of switchbacks, I was a little nervous. Here is one of our Rocky Mountain views, the amount of snow left made our early morning snow play feel like nothing.
At one point on our drive back, this is what I saw in our backseat. Everyone had an amazing day and even for a one day Yellowstone trip, it was worth it, as evidenced by this image.
Tip: We entered the park in the morning using the East entrance, via Cody, toward Fishing Bridge (we hear there is a lovely campground here, but will be under renovations and upgrades through the 2019 season), then drove south toward West Thumb to Old Faithful. We only made it to Old Faithful by lunchtime. So our afternoon drive was from Old Faithful toward Canyon Village, via Madison & Norris. We drove out the NE Entrance in the evening. This is where it would be precarious for a MH. Leaving this entrance, there is no good way that we saw for a MH to drive. There were signs as we headed toward Red Lodge “No vehicles over 20 ft allowed”. gulp. Driving Bear Tooth Pass in our Corolla was not for the faint hearted, in my opinion.
We have read on several different blogs, sites, etc. that there is great camping in West Yellowstone and the West entrance is the best path into the park with a MH. It will be a few years before we go back to Yellowstone, but I think we will check out the West Yellowstone area and read up on the Fishing Bridge campground after the renovations are complete next year.
Photo Credit: USGS