We spent our first night inYellowstone  at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge a 5 minute walk from Yellowstone’s most famous icon, ‘Old Faithful’.

Old Faithful Snow Lodge, Yellowstone National Park, USA

It’s more expensive to stay inside the park but it was great to be so close to Old Faithful. Not just because it meant not having to drive at the beginning of the day but also it meant we could marvel at Old Faithful and the surrounding area at varying times of the day.

Totally unperturbed by the traffic and people, clearly the buffalo though so too!

Buffalo grazing near Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, USA

Old Faithful Geyser in the Upper Basin

Old Faithful is named because it is the most reliable of Yellowstone’s geysers. It faithfully erupts about every 9o minutes, each eruption lasting between 1.5 to 5 minutes. The historical range of its recorded height is between 100-180 feet. The geyser itself was smaller than we’d been expecting and in truth didn’t look as spectacular as we’d thought it would.

Old Faithful Geyser at Yellowstone National Park, Day 7 of American Road Trip

We waited with quite a few others, who, like us, had read the well posted signs or downloaded the Yellowstone ‘App’ that tells you when the next eruption is due.

Crowds watching Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, USA

The predictions were unbelievably accurate and our slight initial disappointment was quickly dissipated. Old Faithful is thrillingly impressive!

Old Faithful Geyser erupting at Yellowstone National Park

And when we went back at dusk it was even more mesmerizing.

The Upper Basin by Old Faithful

The Upper Basin where Old Faithful is situated lies close to the Firehole River. Like most of the accessible thermal areas at Yellowstone there are wooden boardwalk trails to follow allowing you to safely view everything just a few inches above the steaming ground. The entire basin is a bubbling, gurgling pagaent.

Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

We were rapidly just as enthralled as we had been the previous day.

Thermal Pool at Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone

Spellbound by nature.

Thermal pools at Upper Basin Yellowstone National Park

Crested Pool

There are more than 10,000 thermal pools scattered across the park but the crested pool is one of the hottest, its temperature often exceeding 199 Degrees Fahrenheit~93 Degrees Centigrade.

Crested pool at Upper Basin Yellowstone National Park, USA

Anemone thermal pool at Upper Basin

The anemone pool really did look like a it’s name sake, subtly changing its shape as it writhed in the mud.

Anemone thermal pool at Upper Basin, Yellowstone National Park, USA

Belgian Pool

So named for its resemblance to Belgium.

Belgian thermal pool at the Upper Basin, Yellowstone National Park, USA

Beehive Geyser at Upper Basin

Beehive geyser is named for its 4 foot high cone’s resemblance to a beehive. Although more modest looking than some of its neighbors, the Beehive is actually one of Yellowstone’s most powerful geysers. It’s cone shape acts a nozzle allowing it to shoot up to impressive heights of over 200 feet.

Beehive Geyser, Upper Basin, Yellowstone National Park, USA

There are other thermal basins minutes away in the car, Black Sand Basin, Biscuit Basin and Midway Geyser Basin but we decided to leave those for our final morning and spend this day exploring as much of the lower loop as we had time for.

Map of the lower loop at Yellowstone National Park

Retracing our steps back to Madison we climbed up through the pine forests towards West Thumb crossing the Continental Divide twice!

The Continental Divide at Yellowstone National Park

West Thumb thermal area by Lake Yellowstone

We came to the frozen shores of Lake Yellowstone before we reached West Thumb. The steaming lakeshore and water around West Thumb fills a volcanic crater created about 174,000 years ago. Small, compared to the Yellowstone caldera, nonetheless it is as large as Oregon’s well known Lake Caldera. West Thumb was yet another riveting spot.

Thermal pool at West Thumb, Lake Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park, USA

West Thumb itself was caused by an explosion 125,000 years ago but remains thermally active. It is a percolating marvel of hot springs, mud-pots and steaming geysers.

Lake Yellowstone at West Thumb Geyser Basin

Some just chuckle, others steam and hiss furious little clouds of sulphur infused steam.

Geyser at West Thumb thermal area, by Yellowstone National Park, USA

The Sulphur Cauldron

This was our next roadside stop. Situated on the edge of Yellowstone’s buried volcano, the Sulphur Caldron is ten times more acidic than lemon juice. Unbelievably it is teeming with life, billions of Thermoacidophiles (micro-organisms which thrive in a hot, acidic environment) thrive here, converting the pool’s hydrogen sulfide gas into sulfuric acid. This in turn breaks down the soil and rock creating a bubbling mud pool.

Sulphur Caldron at Yellowstone National Park, USA

Unbelievably, magma from the Yellowstone Caldera is still moving below the ground, pushing the ground upwards into the hills visible in the distance.

Mud pots by Sulphur Caldron, Yellowstone National Park, USA

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Without sounding trite, just when you think you couldn’t be any further impressed you are! The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, like it’s name sake, The Grand Canyon, is virtually invisible until your toes are on its edge. The impact is just as dramatic. The show capped edges of pine trees tumbling down the golden, red rocks, dropping 422 feet between the cascading waters of the Yellowstone River is literally spell binding.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park, USA

We were viewing The Grand Canyon from the North Rim.

Waterfall at Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park, USA

and when the camera lens caught the vista from the reverse direction it was just a captivating.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone from Lower Falls at Yellowstone National Park, USA

Brink of the Lower Falls

It is possible to hike to a viewing point at the place where the river crashes hundred of feet into the canyon. In this photo, it is just about visible on the right of the top of the falls. Sadly we didn’t have time to do that.

Top of falls of Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park, USA

The drama where the river cascaded over the rocks far below was dazzling too

River at Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park, USA

Standing above the canyon we thought it was probably the most entrancing of all Yellowstone vistas, well almost……

Lake Yellowstone partially frozen, Yellowstone National Park, USA

Returning back to the lodge we stopped by the snow kissed lakeshore one more time. Looking at the ice across the water was striking.

And then of course seeing Old Faithful erupt at dusk well….

Old Faithful erupting at dusk in Yellowstone National Park, USA

I hope a picture speaks a thousand words.

Old Faithful erupting at dusk

The golden streaks across the evening sky made the Upper Basin even more mystical.

Old Faithful, Upper Basin of Yellowstone at dusk

Could Yellowstone stun us any further? I think you can imagine my answer. See you next time!