Road Trip Leg #8 Jackson to Gardiner
We found that you will need at least three days in Yellowstone to fully enjoy what the park has to offer. You should check with the Yellow Stone web site More Info to find out what type of pass you can obtain for your vehicle during your stay.
Since we aren't true campers, we decided to stay in a town called Gardener MT. The name of the hotel was the Best Western Gardener More Info For our needs, the hotel was just fine. They had an indoor pool, with a nice restaurant for lunches and breakfasts.
As we approached the south entrance we stopped at Moose Falls for a quick peak at one of the many waterfalls Yellowstone has to offer.
We made a quick stop to eat our lunch and to prove what Yellowstone has to offer, on our way back to the car we spotted three Elk just yards from the parking lot. Easily the largest animals I had seen in nature to date. The horns on this animal were huge, and intimidating.
Next you'll want to stop in Grant Village if you nee any supplies. Since we were on our way to Gardener MT, anyway, we bypassed this location and went directly to the West Thumb Geyser Basin. There aren't any huge geysers at this basin, but it's a great first introductory stop to the geyser basins.
Leaving the West Thumb Geyser Basin, we headed north, and encountered our first buffalo sighting! The buffalo are not timid and will chose to cross the road at any time. The pair we encounter walked directly in front of our car, turned towards us, as if they were waiting to have their photo taken, and continued on their way. An amazing experience. See the video at: More Info
Keep heading north, with Yellowstone lake at your right. There's plenty of opportunities to stop and take pictures and watch for wildlife.
You'll soon reach the Mud Volcano area. We had the opportunity to see a massive herd of buffalo at this point. They were literally 50 ft from everyone, going about their business. Check out the video here: More Info
Still traveling north, you'll find one of the most beautiful spots in Yellowstone. The Canyon area upper and lower falls clearly define the amazing scenery you will experience in Yellowstone. Make sure you walk out to Artist's point. The photos you will take will never give justice to the real life experience.
At this point we headed west towards Norris Junction. Day one was pretty busy, full of activities, so we just continued straight past any attractions. Don't worry, we'll tackled those on Day Two.
After resting up, we stopped in Gardener MT at a local gas station for sandwhiches for a picnic. Make sure you load up on water if you plan on hiking.
Our first stop for Day Two was at the Mammoth Hot Springs Basin. If you park at the bottom of the hill you can actually explore around the foothills and then drive to the top instead of hiking all the way.
After visiting Mammoth Falls, head east towards Tower-Roosevelt Jnct. We stopped an saw a few waterfalls along the way including Wraith, Undine, and Tower Falls. Tower Falls was our most favorite of the three.
Along your drive you should see some of the fire damage that was caused in the 1996 Yellowstone fire. It is amazing how much the terrain has improved with new trees sprouting everywhere. Yet the charred remains of the once tall trees still stand as reminders of what nature can do.
Next was the Norris Geyser Basin. Here you will find a variety of active geysers that will entertain. You can surely sit and wait for the action. The Puff N Stuff Geyser, and Steamboat was the most active when we visited. More Info
After visiting Norris Junction head North back to the hotel. You may find some of the terrain familier because you have already driven through this area. But by driving through Yellowstone a few different times it will increase your chance of finding wildlife. This time while driving back to the hotel in Gardener, we saw a coyote pup playing in the prairie. More Info
Starting back at the hotel in Gardiner, we actually checked out for the stay. Our plan was to stay our final night at the Old Faithful Inn. If you plan on staying, make sure you book your stay MONTHS in advance. The hotel is very popular and very crowded during the high peak season, which can run from May - Sept. More Info
After entering the park, head south towards Norris Jct. We stopped at Gibbon Falls for a while for an ice cream. It was a little crowded so we pressed on towards Madison Jct, and Firehole Canyon Dr.
NOTE: That Firehole canyon drive is one-way and can get very crowded. I would still recommend to make the drive. If you're towing a camper you may / may not be able to make the drive depending on the sea
son and how crowded it is.
Along the way there is a swimming area, if the weather permits.
Next on the plan, was the Lower Geyser Basin / Midway Geyser Basin. Before you visit any of these Geyser basins, it's a good idea to actually find out estimated geyser times. We made the mistake of just visiting and hoping for the best. While waiting for the Great Fountain Geyser, we actually viewed another geyser eruption in the distance. Thinking that the geysers went off fairly frequently we didn't rush to the car to drive the 1 mile to get a closer look. Morale of the story, Great Fountain Geyser wasn't planned to go off for another 12 hours, and the geyser we viewed from a distance wasn't planned for another 8 hours. Luck of the draw really.
By around 3:00 you should be able to check in to the Old Faithful Inn if you have reservations. The Old Faithful Village and Upper Geyser Basin walk was a personal favorite. Lots of activity and of course Old Faithful which actually goes off every 90 minutes or so.
LINK TO FULL SLIDE-SHOW: More Info
LINKS TO YELLOWSTONE VIDEOS: More Info
Americans save up their whole life to take that one big vacation out of the country. It always baffles me when I meet someone that has never taken the time to simply hop in the car and drive out west (or east if you're coming from the west coast of course) The experience of the old west, Yellowstone and the simple vastness of how large the United States is, never ceases to amaze. If you're looking for a vacation this year, or next year, consider the American Road Trip out west. You won't be disappointed.