Finishing our half-day trip at Theodore Roosevelt NP, we made our way to Billings Montana to break up the drive. The drive to Billings was approx. five hours and then the next morning we would have another five hours to drive to Yellowstone. We stayed at my first ever KOA in Billings, and wow this was the nicest campsite/resort I’ve ever seen in my life. They had their own mini-golf course.
Yellowstone National Park is by far one of the more famous NP in the United States and known around the world. The Park is filled with a lot of wildlife and geothermal springs. There is the Yellowstone loop which is recommended to be done in 3 days but honestly, I think as long as you’re not taking long hikes you could do this in a day. A few quick notes about Yellowstone NP:
- Entrance fee $35
- Established in 1872 (First ever National Park)
- 2,219,791 acres in size
- Covers three states (ID, MT, & WY)
- Best known for Wildlife, Geothermal Features (Old Faithful), Waterfalls, Rivers, & Forest
Day 1 – Arrival & Old Faithful 06.09.2020
Driving from Billings to West Yellowstone was beautiful, one of my favorite scenic drives of the trip. I was a bit worried driving thru the mountains pulling a trailer for the first time but no issues whatsoever. We got to our KOA West Yellowstone and set up camp and then took the short 10-minute drive to the west entrance at Yellow Stone National Park. At the time only two entrances were open into the NP (due to COVID).
The beginning of the drive from the west entrance isn’t much to look at until you get to the first turn off, you turn right if you want to see Old Faithful. After turning right, we were welcomed to see our first Bison of the trip.
Along the way you pass Kepler Cascades & the Continental Divide.Driving from the west entrance to old faithful takes about one hour, longer if you get stuck by someone driving in the Cruise America Rental RVs (Seriously the people driving these are the worse drivers at Yellowstone).
Old Faithful erupts every 44 minutes to two hours and has been doing since the year 2000. When you arrive at Old Faithful it is a short flat walk from the parking lot to an area that has bench seating all around. COVID or no COVID getting there early is key to get a good spot to sit and see, of course, you can stand in the back and still get a good view.
Quick video below of Old Faithful erupting.
After Seeing Old Faithful we decided to drive down to the West Thumb, which isn’t much further. The West Thumb has some good walking trails down to the take that I plan to save for tomorrow, but we were able to see some nice geothermal pools near the parking lot. On the way back to the KOA we passed a herd of Bison and even had them walk right up to the truck!
Day 2 – Yellowstone Loop 06.10.2020
I had read online that most bloggers think it’s impossible to do the Yellowstone loop in a day, but honestly, if you are just here to sightsee and aren’t looking to go on long hikes you could easily do this in a day. Coming from the West entrance again we headed left at the T for the Grand Loop Road. The goal was to head straight for the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Along the way, we passed a few waterfalls, Gibbon Falls & Virginia Cascades. Plus, once you get to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, you get the Lower Falls & Upper Falls.
Finding parking for the lookout can be difficult so most people park along North Rim Drive and then walk the hiking path, which takes about 20-30 minutes to the two lookouts (Lookout Point & Grand View), and if you really want to you can continue down the path to Inspiration Point but I did not do that. The next part we continued to drive down Grand Loop Road and took a left onto South Rim Drive. This is less crowded, but the views of the waterfall and canyon are worse and honestly, I felt like I wasted my time heading over and I don’t recommend doing this, but if you have the time and like to explore do it up!
The next stop, the Mud Volcano. This is a nice part of the park with some easy walking trails that wrap around some geothermal pools and the mud pool. We walked the whole loop in a half hour and got some great photos, plus you can see the Dragons Mouth. To get here from the Canyon is an easy 20-minute drive. Further down the loop is the massive Yellowstone Lake. Near the lake ranger station there it is very quiet (COVID) and you get great views of the lake, plus if you’re lucky like us you’ll see some Elk.
The place that most people stop at is the West Thumb, which has a lot of walking trails that go around geothermal pools and down to the lake. We were here for about an hour and at this point, the next stop would be Old Faithful, but we had already done that the day before. With a lot of time left in the day my brother and I decided to go to the Grand Tetons National Park, since I didn’t spend to much time there, I won’t make a separate post and rather just talk about our time there below.
Day 2 – Grand Tetons National Park 06.10.2020
This is a park that I regret not planning on the trip to. I had it as a maybe in case I had completed everything I wanted to see in Yellowstone and still had time. My favorite scenery is Mountains around water, and the Grand Tetons provides that. And due to COVID, the entrance station was closed, and it was free to entry (as long as you were coming from Yellowstone and not coming from the south. A few quick notes about Grand Tetons NP:
- Entrance fee $35
- Established in 1929
- 310,000 acres in size
- Major Peaks of the Teton Range
- Best known for Back Country Camping
Leaving West Thumb, it was an hour drive to the North Entrance of the NP and an additional 15 minutes to the Jackson Lake Overlook. At points, this drive was a bit scary and I would not want to drive a trailer or an RV/campervan through this. Breath-taking views for the overlook a perfect place to stop and have lunch. With only 6 hours left of sunlight, we made a short 20-minute drive to Colter Bay Village. This village had a nice easy hiking trail from the parking lot that went out to a peninsula, if you take this hike it’s about 30 minutes round trip. I highly recommend leaving the trail and heading down to the lake for some amazing views!
Time to head back to the KOA and get ready for our drive to Utah tomorrow. On our way back we had a traffic jam with Bison.
If I missed anything about Yellowstone drop it in the comments.