A Motorcycle Journey in Yellowstone National Park
After getting some essentials for our campsite in Yellowstone National Park from the Visitors center, we loaded up the ‘extras’ and saddled up to find our campsite.
We arrived at our site, and it was nearly perfect. We had a fire ring near the center of our site and two perfect spots for the tents. There was also a picnic table toward the back of the site placed neatly between two trees.
We started the unloading of gear, and proceeded to pick out the spots for our tents. Deciding where to pitch a tent is a pretty important part of camping. I had the smaller of the two tents ‘the coffin’, so I took a smaller spot between two trees off to the left side of our camping area. My brother in law took a spot on the right. I think I got the better deal, though, because his spot was on a small incline. It wasn’t a hill exactly, just a small slope while my spot was relatively flat.
Once we had our tents pitched and the fire ring and picnic table surrounded, it was time to start a campfire. We gathered a little wood and soon the fire was born. We happened upon a really big piece that looked like the folks there before us had tried to burn it, so we added it to the fire once it was burning good.
A little chow, and a couple of drinks later, and we were kicked back at the picnic table reminiscing about our journey so far. From the Rocky Mountain National Park, to the Grand Tetons, and now Yellowstone, this had been quite an adventure so far.
Soon, it was lights out (so to speak), so we could plan where we were going to go in the morning. We only had three days planned in Yellowstone and wanted to make them the best we could.
As darkness approached us on our first night at Yellowstone National Park, the signs of rain began to appear. Fist, a light sprinkle, then as it grew closer to sleepy time, the rain began to fall even faster and harder. Not unbearable – no typhoon, just one of those annoying rains. We put all of our food items in the nearby Bear Box as to avoid an uninvited visitor into our site.
It was late enough that we decided not to deal with it the first night, but thought we should pick up a small tarp and some rope at the Store by the visitor center on our way out to explore the following morning.
Into the tents we went, and off to sleepytown.
Morning arrived, and the sun peeked into our tents to awake us. I woke with anticipation of what wonderful things we might experience this day. I was glad that the rain had stopped sometime in the night, and that we were greeted by sunshine this morning. It is going to be a great day, I thought to myself.
We conjured up some breakfast, managed to get ourselves woke up, and gathered what little bit we thought we would need for our ride this wonderful day. We consulted our maps, and picked a route for our day. We decided to ride the south ‘loop’ of Yellowstone National Park.
The park is basically two loops that join into a figure eight of sorts. We decided to ride the south loop the first day, then the north loop the second day. One of the things that we knew that we wanted to see along the south route was Old Faithful, the famous Geyser. We were sure we would enjoy other sights, but really didn’t know what to expect at the time, or how much beauty we would be greeted with that day.
Off we were on our trusty steeds. First stop, gas. We stopped at a station not far from our campsite to gas up for the days travel. It was warm that morning, and we could tell that the sun would be shining and it was going to be a beautiful day.
The first place we decided to go to was the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. We were in the Canyon Campground, which just happened to be very close to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. It was only about a 6 to 8 mile ride, so our motorcycles didn’t even really get the chance to warm up good, and it was time to park. Oh my! the view here was unbelievable!!. There was short trail to ‘Inspiration point’ which overlooks the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. This is where we began our adventure of Yellowstone National Park.
We could hear and in some places see a waterfall not too far away, but it sounded as if it was below us. As we approached the sound, we saw a glimpse of it, and indeed, it WAS below us!! There was a trailhead that said it would take us to the mouth of the falls. The sign said it was only a 3/8 mile hike down to the falls, so we decided to go down.
We passed a guy with his family shortly after getting on the trail headed down, and he was breathing pretty hard. We asked him if it was tough climb back up the trail. His reply was ‘Yes, it may only be 3/8 of a mile down, but it seems like about two miles back up’. With that to look forward to, we headed on down the trail.
After a short time, we approached the mouth of the falls. The climb down itself was not hard, except we had to lean backwards to keep our feet from outrunning us. At the base of the trail, there was a walkway with a rail that led us out to the brink itself. Standing directly over the brink of the falls allows you to really experience the power of these awesome forces. After a few pictures, and a moment of catching our breath, it was time for the climb back up the trail.
The hike back up the 3/8 mile trail was a challenge. It was all switchbacks going up, and the incline was pretty steep. We must have stopped to take a short rest about five of six times before reaching the top. The guy we passed on the way down was right about it seeming like two miles back up!.
Once at the top, we took a short break before hopping back on our motorcycles.
We took off again, headed southbound to the southern ‘loop’ of Yellowstone National Park. We approached one of the areas where we could get up close and personal with a few of the Geysers. The first thing that hit me was the smell. It was undeniable. To me, it smelled like burnt matches – sulfur. The air was full of that smell. I didn’t really bother me, it was just different.
The pools were bizarre. Just seeing the intensity of the heat boiling up from these things is awesome. It is really interesting the things that nature brings us. I sure wouldn’t want to wade in one of those things, though!
We were headed in the general direction of Old Faithful. We wanted to see the famous Geyser. It’s a must see if you’re in Yellowstone National Park. Along the way, we passed some wild animals. We saw some buffalo. These things were huge! We also were greeted by some Elk who didn’t seem to mind that we were there. We were able to get pretty close to these beautiful animals and take a couple of pictures.
Yes, our next destination was Old Faithful, but we were not in a big hurry, because the journey was fantastic!.
We were headed toward Old Faithful, but we couldn’t resist stopping at some more of the open pools with that amazing thermal energy pent up inside (below?) the water.
There was collection of them on our route, so we just had to stop. They had placed a walkway around the Geysers so that we could walk around them to get a closer view. I sure wouldn’t want to fall off the walkway!
We also saw some Elk along the way. These guys are amazing! One of them was so close to use that we could almost touch him. He didn’t seem to mind that we were there either. He was just hanging out, grazing on some of the lush grasses that are in Yellowstone National Park.
Then we saw it, the sign pointing us in the direction of Old Faithful. We rode on up, and parked beside the little welcome center. We wandered around a bit and picked up a couple of souvenirs. There was a sign there that estimated the time of the next eruption, but the timing has begun to be a little off over the years, the sign explained. I didn’t really understand the reasons – the shifting of the earth, I guessed.
We headed back outside and were greeted with bright sunshine. A perfect day for an explosion! The steam was already fizzing out of the mouth of the Old Faithful Geyser. It spit out a steady steam continuously – something I didn’t know it did.
Sure enough, and time approached the preset prediction that was marked on the sign, it started – slowly at first, the steam begun to get taller and more pronounced. It seemed like only a few minutes later and Old Faithful was spewing in full force. Unbelievable!! The utter power of this thing, and what it is capable of is truly amazing.
If there really is a Great Volcano under Yellowstone waiting to happen, I sure hope I am a long way away from it when it happens.