When I Went: Aug. 2011
Was That the Best Time of Year to Go? We visited during the end of summer. While the weather was perfect, the mosquitos were out of control! If you are planning to do a backcountry hike, there are a lot of trails with water crossings, and the trail we hiked had several. We waited until late summer because the snow melt from spring creates high and dangerous water crossings, some of which are impassible. By the time we hiked our trail, the river crossings were manageable and everyone made it safely across without falling or being swept away!
Why I Went There: We have been backpacking and primitive camping at a few parks across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, but wanted to do an extended trip at one of the national parks. After about many months of research, we decided that Yellowstone, with the unique geological features and diverse landscape and animal life, was the best pick for our track through the backcountry. Imagine hiking 40 miles through the woods, over mountains, through fields, with hot springs, waterfalls, grizzlies, geysers, elk and bison for five days straight. It’s an experience of a lifetime. Our hike was along the Bechler River. We started our hike at a trailhead 1.5 miles east of the Old Faithful geyser and ended at the Bechler Ranger Station.
Who Went With Me? My boyfriend (now husband) Zach and two of our good friends, Huy (co-worker) and Geoff (college buddy).
We Stayed Here: We stayed at several camp sites along our trail in the back country on the Bechler River trail. We stopped over in Jackson Hole on the way to and back from the park and stayed at the Painted Buffalo Inn.
You Won’t Want to Miss: There are so many amazing features of this park. Some well known, like Old Faithful and the Lone Star Geyser (no relation to Texas, sadly) and others are well-kept secrets available only to those who hike in the backcountry, like Mr. Bubbles, and let me tell you, you do NOT want to miss Mr. Bubbles. Mr.Bubbles is not a person nor animal, but a unique thermal area. It is a pool where there is a hot spring shooting up in the center, which is normally very hot (way too hot for anyone to swim in). But here is the trick: there is also a cold river that flows into the hot spring making the water just cool enough that you can swim in it. It basically creates a natural Jacuzzi. And let me tell you, after 20 miles of hiking with sore feet, back and aching muscles, it was amazing to swim in Mr.Bubbles. In fact we spent about 1.5 hours hanging out in Mr.Bubbles. It felt so great. After this we all felt rejuvenated for the rest of our hike!
Eat Here: There are lots of places to eat in the park. We had our post-hike meal at the Old Faithful Lodge cafeteria, that overlooks the geyser, has beautiful Adirondack and wooden chairs on a porch to sit and watch the geyser. There are several different dining options in the Old Faithful area.
Play Here: The Old Faithful area has a number of features and areas to explore: Upper Geyser Basin (home to Old Faithful), Lower Geyser Basin (home to the Fountain Paint Pots, bubbling clay), Midway Geyser Basin (home to the Grand Prismatic Spring – another don’t miss), Lone Star Geyser Basin (home to the Lone Star geyser), and some cool waterfalls (Kepler Cascades, Mystic Falls and Fairy Falls). The best place to play though is out on the trails! There are an abundance of trails that you can hike–some short, some long, some easy, some hard–that bring you to see amazing features like the waterfalls, geysers, hot springs, and animals galore. It is truly a park that has something for everyone.
If I Went Again: If, and when, we go again, I would definitely bring a jug of bug spray and possibly a mosquito suit. There are so many other trails in the park that are great hikes, so we would probably hike in a different area of the park. I think also, we would budget some extra time to drive through and explore the park, as we didn’t get to see all of the features that are so easily accessible to anyone who wants to go to the park.
How Did You Get There From Dallas? We flew into Salt Lake City, which is about six hours south of the park. You can fly closer to the park, but the air fair and rental vehicles are much pricier, so we rented two SUVs in SLC and drove up to the park. We stopped over in Jackson Hole (due to a misplaced luggage situation), but found it to be a welcome surprise. Definitely a cool tourist town with lots of shops, hotels, restaurants and things to do.
Other Tips For Fellow Travelers: One of the things that made this trip special for us is that after being together 14 years (since 8th grade) my boyfriend finally proposed and we got engaged (and are now married, still hiking)! One special thing to note about Yellowstone is that it is one of those special places on earth; no other place like it. And it is a place that anybody can go to and enjoy. There are so many parts of the park that are totally accessible. If you are old, young, in a wheelchair, you can still see and enjoy so many of this parks special features.