Day 3 - Monday, September 7th, 2009
Leaving the Moulton Ranch Cabins and our first day in Yellowstone
Day 3 Photos:
I woke up early again and took a few more photos around Moulton Ranch and Mormon Row. I was so glad I chose this location for our 1st two nights lodging. For anyone planning on visiting the Grand Tetons, I would highly recommend staying at the Moulton Ranch Cabins: http://www.moultonranchcabins.com/
The place is awesome, very well maintained, beautiful landscaped yard, and clean cabins. It's a photographer's paradise! Owners Hal and Iola Blake are excellent hosts and we were sorry to leave, but it was time to move on into Yellowstone National Park.
We took our time driving in and stopping and several roadside views along the way. There is some major road construction on the road leading into the south entrance of the park and we were warned of the possibility of some major delays. Fortunately it was Labor Day and the workers were enjoying a much needed day off. Some unplanned good timing on our part!
One worry about planning the trip for September, is that if it has been a dry summer, many of the waterfalls would be far less impressive than normal. Plus, it is prime season for wildfires. We passed by many acres and acres of charred, dead trees from wildfires that occurred over the years.
Fortunately, the area had adequate rain this summer and our first stop at Moose Falls proved right away that lack of water flow would not be an issue. The brink of Moose Falls is located just past the South Entrance on the East Side of the Road. A small pull-off area leads to a short trail to the base.
This 30-foot virtually roadside waterfall was much nicer than I was anticipating. However, the sun was shining directly into my lens making it very difficult to get a good photo. I posted one from this morning, but I got some better shots later in the trip on the drive out.
We continued on into the park stopping at several roadside viewpoints including Lewis Falls. Again the bright sun made my photos far less than spectacular.
We headed west at the West Thumb Junction towards the Old Faithful Inn. Our final stop before arriving at the Inn was Kepler Cascades, another nice roadside waterfall. Once again the sun was in a horrible position and none of the photos from today's visit were worth posting. I will have some better ones to post from later in our trip.
Even though it was only around 11:00am, we were able to check into our room at the Old Faithful Inn. Room #1 What are the odds of that? About 1 in 340 according to the woman who checked us in.
The Old Faithful Inn is the most popular lodging facility in the park. Even booking months in advance like we did, this was the only night they had a room available. It can set you back over $500/night if you go with one of the premium rooms. We got in for just under $100 by going with a room without a private bath.
Jack and Amy at the Old Faithful Inn
Even without our own bath, I was very glad we were able to spend a night here. Our room was one of the Inn's original rooms dating back to 1904 and was very charming. The community bathroom and shower facility for our wing was shared with 7 other rooms, but was always very clean throughout our stay. We never had to wait to use it, and even if we did there was always the public bathroom for any emergencies that couldn't wait!
Upon check-in, we saw that the next Old Faithful eruption was scheduled to happen in about 30-minutes. So after unloading our stuff and checking out our room, we hit the crowds of people surrounding the world's most famous geyser.
While waiting for old faithful, another Geyser started erupting. Beehive Geyser eruptions are actually a good bit higher than Old Faithful, but much less frequent and predictable. I didn't realize at the time that it was actually a rare treat to see Beehive erupt.
While Beehive was putting on a show, Old Faithful started going off right on schedule. Compared to the Beehive Geyser, good Old Faithful was less than impressive. However, seeing these two geysers erupt simultaneously is something that almost never happens.
Old Faithful and Beehive Geyser Erupting Simultaneously
After the twin Geyser eruptions, we decided to head north and explore the road towards Madison Junction. We took the Firehole Lake Drive past several more Geysers and hot springs.
I would have liked to check out Gibbon Falls, but that section of road was closed for construction, so we only got as far as Madison Junction. On the way back, we took the Firehole Canyon drive to check out Firehole Falls and Firehole Cascades.
After walking through a few more Geyser Basin we decided to head back to the Inn for an early dinner.
The Old Faithful Inn can also be the most expensive place to eat in the park. Dinner for two, with a few drinks could easily cost $100. Fortunately there are other dining options for people like us who prefer more casual dining, and we enjoyed a good meal for under $20.
The Old Faithful Inn Dining Hall
My idea for a Yellowstone Vacation was to try to get as much hiking in as possible. Amy's idea for any vacation is to relax and read as many books as possible. So we started our trend throughout the week of eating early dinners. Afterwards, I would plan a solo hike, while Amy would hang out wherever we were staying for some reading and relaxation.
My solo hike for today would be Mystic Falls. While Amy could have easily handled the out and back hike to Mystic Falls, I decided to do the more challenging loop hike. The 4.0 mile loop hike gains about 1,000 feet of elevation offering up some nice views of the Geyser Basins and rivers down below.
Mystic Falls also proved to be very impressive, and the early evening light offered up some good photo opportunities. I would definitely recommend this one!
After my hike, I met back up with Amy and we explored around the Inn, checking out the many interpretive signs and displays showing the history of this famous Inn. I also saw that it was just about time for another Old Faithful eruption, so I decided to check that out from a different viewpoint than earlier.
This seemed to be a much higher eruption than earlier, but after I took my first shot, the charge battery message came up on my camera. By the time I got the battery changed, Old Faithful was just about done for the next 90-minutes.
Later that evening, after the stars were out, Amy and I took a night time stroll through the Geyser Field and enjoyed a night time performance of Old Faithful. I also got some nice night time shots of the Inn and the rising moon before heading back to our room and calling it a night.
Night Time Eruption of Old Faithful
The Old Faithful Inn Under the Stars
Additional Photos from Day 3 of our vacation are located here: