Saturday, August 17, 2019

Want to see Yellowstone in the Summer? Wake Up Early!

Midway Geyser Basin - 6:45am
I've been feeling bad about spending all this time right outside the entrance to Yellowstone without going in to visit.  The problem of course is the people - so many people!  We're smack dab in the middle of summer season for the National Parks and everything in and around them is an absolute zoo.

I came up with a theory a few days ago that maybe if I could get in early, say before sunrise, I might just get a few hours on my own to enjoy the park.  I set my alarm for 5:30 am this morning and set out to test the theory.

I pulled into the parking lot at Midway Geyser Basin and Grand Prismatic Spring at 6:45 am and my heart gave a little leap - hooray!  Only two other cars in the lot.  The place was virtually empty.

Grand Prismatic Spring
There were quite a few interesting geothermal features along this walk but it was kind of difficult to see Grand Prismatic through all the steam rising so early in the morning.  I decided to drive up the road a bit to Fairy Falls where there is an overlook to the springs and possibly a better view.

Fairy Falls Hike - Lots of Steam Rising in the Midway Geyser Basin

Grand Prismatic from the Overlook Trail

The next stop on my little Yellowstone tour was Biscuit Basin.  I arrived there just before 8:00 am and again found the parking lot nearly empty.

I really enjoyed the colorful array of thermal pools located in and around Biscuit Basin.  It was by far my favorite stop of the four I was able to make today.  
From Biscuit Basin it is only a couple more miles to get to Old Faithful.  I mostly wanted to go there to get some coffee and check out the Old Faithful Inn.  Again I had no trouble finding parking at this time of the morning.  

I walked around the historic Old Faithful Inn and drank my coffee while taking in the awe-inspiring lobby and the massive stone fireplace with its hand-crafted clock made of copper and iron.

I finished my coffee and stepped outside just in time to catch the 9:15 am eruption of Old Faithful Geyser.

All-in-all, I would say my theory about visiting Yellowstone early in the morning to avoid summer crowds was a success.  My goal was to be out of the park by 10:00 am and I just about made it out by then.  I never once hit traffic, had to wait for parking, or stood in any lines.  To add emphasis to the benefits of visiting early, here is a photo of the line of cars I encountered while leaving from the west entrance.

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