Wilma, Fred and Pebbles, from the cartoon family The Flintstones, used to visit a nearby park called Jellystone. I can’t recall what manner of natural attractions (lava-spewing volcanoes?) or wild animals (dinosaurs?) they saw, but I’m pretty sure the cartoon version of Yellowstone National Park doesn’t compare to the real thing.
We’re on a road trip to Salt Lake City from Calgary, via Denver and the Rocky Mountains, to attend the annual Chromosome 18 Registry & Research Society conference for Bennett. Blake and I thought it would be fun to hit Yellowstone, and other places like Georgetown and Grand Lake, Colo., and Dinosaur National Monument and Park City, Utah, along the way.
But before I recap our drive-by shooting of photos inside Yellowstone, I will give you a tip: Do not visit this park on a weekend in the middle of summer. It is a human zoo. If you make our mistake, follow this itinerary for the highlights, but be prepared to experience nature while rubbing shoulders with a bunch of tourists like you’re at a football game.
Fountain Paint Pot trail
The almost one-kilometre boardwalk Fountain Paint Pot loop trail located in the Lower Geyser Basin takes you past the majority of thermal attractions you’ve come to Yellowstone to see: orange bacterial mats, bright blue hot springs, boiling mud and active geysers. It took us a good 45 minutes to take in everything, and we loved watching the geyser erupt!
Firehole Lake Drive
We turned off the park’s main drag to enjoy the sights along Firehole Lake Drive, also in the Lower Geyser Basin. It winds past more blue pools, geysers and travertine terraces caused by flowing hot water. We didn’t see White Dome Geyser (below) erupt, and we didn’t let Bennett climb the ancient, 30-foot-high cone, either.
The highlight of a visit to Yellowstone is supposed to be Old Faithful geyser, which erupts pretty much on time every 90 minutes or so. It’s a spectacular sight watching water spew from the ground to heights of 150 feet, but after seeing the concentrated sights at Fountain Paint Pot with relatively fewer tourists (people are literally seated on bleachers waiting for the Old Faithful spectacle like they’re at a sporting event), I can’t say it was our favourite.
In all, it was a long, exciting day in Yellowstone with kids and we were happy to drive south to Dubois, Wyo., home of the World’s Largest Jackalope.