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I was pretty underwhelmed with my Yellowstone experience at the beginning. Driving in from the south, we went by the magnificent Tetons and then, as soon as we passed through the Yellowstone gates, were thrown into a Disneyland-like, pine tree-lined traffic extravaganza. All the way to Old Faithful, all I could see were pine trees and (you guessed it) RV’s. Starving and not willing to deal with the lines in the touristy new service center by Old Faithful, the hubby and I sat on a bench overlooking the main parking lot and ate our beef sticks, apples, and cheddar cheese, all while be heckled by a huge black crow. (Did you know that crows can cluck, and whistle, and gurgle, all in addition to making their normal crow-like sounds?)
Leaving our new friend crow behind, we ventured over to wander around Old Faithful and the other geysers in that part of the park. It was 1:30 and we had an ETA for Old Faithful of 2:24pm (+ or – 10 minutes), so we walked over to the Old Faithful Inn (beautiful log lodge built in 1904), purchased one of the airiest ice creams ever (vanilla only, because this late in the season everyone is just waiting for the food to run out so they can go home), and took a seat with a few hundred of our closest friends. 2:24pm came and, like someone turned on a switch, water started spewing 20 feet into the air. I’ll admit it was more of an awe-inspiring experience than I anticipated.
Luckily Old Faithful was the beginning of the good stuff. Bison filled meadows, Artist’s Way on the canyon, and a little jaunt to the top of Mt. Washburn were all around the corner. Mt. Washburn was my favorite. After a two hour hike mostly above the tree line, we arrived at a fire lookout on top of the mountain. We could see all of the park, the Tetons, and the fires burning off to the east of the lake. Looking out over such a large and varied landscape was the first time that it really hit me why this piece of land had been the first national park.
In 24 hours I went from underwhelmed to enchanted. I think I’ll be back.