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Yellowstone/Grand Teton Trip

Day 3 of 11

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Sunday, July 24th
Old Faithful, Mystic Falls

At 8am we woke up to find it sunny and hot, as the sun poured into our campsite. Thankfully we'd brought our sun shade, and put up one of the side walls to give us some shade while we ate breakfast.

By 10am or so, we were at the small Madison information center. We picked up a couple of junior ranger booklets for the kids. Then I asked about the four hikes I was considering in Yellowstone: the Snow Pass/Hoodoos Loop, Shoshone Lake, Elephant Back Mountain, and Mount Washburn. The ranger informed me that the Mount Washburn hike was covered in snow on the side I had wanted to do it, turning it into a much longer hike from the other side -- too long to do with the kids. She also mentioned that the Elephant Back Mountain trail was a bear-frequented area. So that basically ruled out those two hikes for me. (In fact, we ended up not doing any of the hikes I'd originally considered, but I wasn't particularly tied to any of them.)

Since it was getting relatively late at this point, I decided we'd start off with a couple of shorter hikes today. We drove to the Old Faithful area, where we bought the last can of bear spray from one of the stores. I would hope to never have to use it, but it's a (currently) $45 investment in a security blanket. I generally wouldn't be bothered if I only had to worry about black bears, but grizzly bears are much larger and (in my mind) more dangerous.

We then started off on a hike to the Old Faithful Observation Point.

After the hike, we went inside for some ice cream. We found a table in front of some big tall windows overlooking the geyser. It wasn't long before we saw it erupt again, and then shortly afterwards the hoards of people outside came inside and the line for ice cream became huge.

We returned to the car, passing a sign telling us the next expected Old Faithful eruption was a bit past 4pm. Then we drove to Biscuit Basin to hike to Mystic Falls.

After the hike, we returned to Madison Campground, spotting a bison next to the road along the way. After we put out our campfire that night, I looked up at all the stars in the sky and spotted a shooting star. Living in the Bay Area, sometimes it's easy to forget how many stars can be visible with the naked eye, if you can just get away from all the light and air pollution.

Bison-induced traffic jam

Bison lumbering away

Back of the bison


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