Considering the lateness of my plan I feel like I got a pretty good bargain at the Victoria Inn and Carriage House in Gardiner. If you want to visit Yellowstone during the summer, best to plan and reserve early! I was a bit concerned about the “private, unattached bathroom” but it was no big deal. It was a fun historic looking house and a comfortable. Breakfast was good for continental, but the breakfast room was a bit cramped.
Gardiner is a quaint little town that has an old mining town kind of feel.
Since we planned to spend the evening at the West Gate we opted to take separate cars back into the park. The first stop was the Visitor Center in Mammoth where we took a little tour and listened to a Ranger Talk.
From there we made our way to the Tower-Roosevelt area where we stopped for lunch and to view the Tower Falls. Here are a few more pictures from the drive as well as the falls.
We had a couple abrupt stops through the pass on the way to the Norris Geyser Basin. One jam caused by a mountain goat crossing the road. I caught a glimpse of her scampering up the hillside but wasn’t prepared for a picture. Another jam was being caused by what apparently was a black bear perched on the back side of a rock. From my perspective in the car all I could see was a black puff of fur.
The parking lot at the Norris Geyser Basin was a bit packed. You definitely see more traffic as the day goes along. There are a couple paths you can take and we took the shorter option. One of the highlights was the Steamboat Geyser. Here is a little video of the Norris Geyser Basin from the museum.
Back to the parking lot we all got into one vehicle and made our way to the Grand Prismatic Spring. This was one of the spot I was really looking forward to seeing. The backup of traffic getting into the parking lot was large so we opted to park along the street and make our way through the a little trail in the woods to the springs.
The hot spring water rolling down the hill into the river was so unique. The different springs in the area were a lovely blue tone. I was a bit disappointed by the Grand Prismatic Spring. From ground level you don’t see a lot of the color changes and drama that are pictured in postcards. Those must be taken from an aerial perspective. It did appear there was probably a better view from the top of the hill but since we didn’t know how to get there we skipped it. Maybe next time. It was still lovely, just not quite what I was expecting.
As we wove through the trail on the way back to the car we heard a big crack and the rustling of a tree falling to the ground. We were a safe distance but you have that moment where you don’t know what was falling where.
From there I was returned to my car and I followed my travel partners to the West Gate where we stopped off at the Visitor Center so RJ could get his Junior Park Ranger Badge.
Again we were booked in separate hotels so we checked in our respective places for the night. The clerk at my hotel recommended the Outpost Restaurant for dinner. I walked right past it because its set back off the sidewalk a bit. We were eagerly greeted by the hostess and told the special was ribs. We were not too excited when the waitress told us she thought they only had one rack left for the special but I selfishly claimed them. These had to be the biggest ribs I have ever seen. I decided it was more like the rack of dinosaur ribs from the Flintstones. They were SO good! And the portion was going to provide a whole second serving for me. We were very pleased with our meal and the service.
My companions and I were headed different ways in the morning so we opted to say farewell for now. I was so thankful they had let me join them during their holiday and I look forward to seeing them during my next visit to Seattle.