2021.06.15 Grand Prismatic Spring & Lone Star Geyser

Last day at Yellowstone and still plenty to see.  We entered the park around 9am and made a beeline for the Grand Prismatic Spring, the hot spring with the vibrant colors of orange, yellow and blue.

Even with our fairly early start, the small parking lot was packed and we parked along the road along with most of the other sightseers.  We walked the boardwalk first, which takes you right up to the edge of the spring.  There were wind warning signs telling tourists to hold onto your hats, but we saw at least one hat that was on the ground, and could not be retrieved.  Argh tourists!

The Grand Prismatic Spring pours nearly 500 gallons of water a minute into the Firehole River
Grand Prismatic Spring

After a walk past the spring on the boardwalk, we drove a short distance to the Fairy Falls trailhead so we could get a birds eye view of the spring.  There is a huge parking area there, but it was also packed, so you find a spot where you can make one.

Our hike was exactly one mile from our parking space to the observation platform overlooking Grand Prismatic Spring.  The view was worth a much longer hike!

The trail to the overlook
Grand Prismatic Spring
We traded photographer duties with another family at the observation platform. She took 16 pictures of us! I need to step up my game.
Found a heart-shaped pool on the walk back to the car. A couple in love!

Our next adventure for the day was a hike to see the Lone Star Geyser.  We heard about this geyser early in our stay, in that it is a nice geyser but not nearly as visited.  We had a picnic lunch in the parking lot at the trailhead, along with some other hikers who had the same idea.

The Lone Star Geyser trail is 2.5 miles each way, but for once we picked a trail that is flat.  100% of the family was excited about that.

A pleasant hike

When we arrived at the geyser, there were only two other couples there, and they were both sitting on logs in the shade, waiting for some action.  We asked them when the next eruption was going to be, and we got a complicated answer about this geyser having minor eruptions and major eruptions and the expected frequency between the two.  According to their best guess, we might have to wait 30 minutes or so for a minor eruption, and we figured we could wait that long.

The National Park Service provided a log book for visitors to record the time and details about each eruption. This helps the next visitors understand how long to wait. Very cool! Mallory recorded the eruption we saw.
Mallory, Stephanie, and Marissa waiting in the shade for some geyser action

While we waited, every few minutes, the geyser would gurgle and it would spit out some water.  The nice couple waiting said it was the most action they’d seen in an hour and a half.  They were playing cribbage on their shady log while they waited.  Occasionally, the only sound you could hear was them shuffling their cards.

After maybe only 20 minutes of waiting, the Lone Star Geyser decided it was time for a minor eruption.  It lasted 3 or 4 minutes and was worth the wait.  (However, we did not deem it necessary to stick around for the major eruption.)

Lone Star Geyser minor eruption
Lone Star Geyser minor eruption
Steve & Mallory Chaco Bracelets photobombed by Lone Star Geyser

We probably saw 40-50 people tops on the entire 5 mile hike.  This is truly a hidden gem.  It was rated as the #16 hike in the park by “Jake” at Hike 734, and he has regained some credibility with the family.  Good job, Jake.

Back at the trailhead, it is a very short walk over to the Kepler Cascades.  Mallory and I spent the five extra minutes to include this attraction.  The views were refreshing!

Sign for the Kepler Cascades. Love these old-school wooden signs found all over Yellowstone.
Kepler Cascades

We had several more stops to make on our drive back to West Yellowstone. These have been on our list all week, and this was the list chance.  The first stop was at the Chief Joseph pullout, which was a very brief biography of the chief and how his tribe were hunted down in this area.  Mallory and Chattie were at odds on this attraction.  Chattie thought it was a waste of time, and Mallory was a big proponent of it.  We ate beneath a portrait of Chief Joseph on our first night in town, so the stop made a nice bookend.  (I side with Chattie on this one.)

We also made the drive along the Firehole Canyon Drive.  We have passed this scenic drive nearly every day we’ve been at Yellowstone and we finally fit it in.  It was worth the ten minutes it took us to drive it.

Firehole Falls on Firehole Canyon Drive

Once we arrived back in town, our very first stop was for a soft serve ice cream cone at IMAX ice cream.  We walked down the street with our ice cream in search of another ice cream shop.  We missed our ice cream allotment yesterday, so why not eat some twice within 30 minutes? 

Marissa and Stephanie visited the rock shop, where Marissa bought the makings of a necklace, while Mallory and I marched on to the City Creamery with instructions to “buy something good”.

This was a fun walk-up ice cream shop on the main drag in West Yellowstone.  We’ve been in town 5 days and it’s the first time I’ve seen it open.  We got everybody a double scoop cup with multiple flavors.  The Huckleberry with Honey & Lavender is a can’t-miss flavor.

Mallory at the City Creamery

We made it back to Under Canvas around 5pm.  We were looking forward to spending some time around camp and soaking in the experience of the glamping lifestyle.

The South Fork of the Madison River runs through the edge of the camp.  We walked over and there were lots of kids splashing around, and adults sitting in chairs and blankets taking it all in.  Mallory said there is a moose (named Sheila) and her baby (named Rivera) that hang out near the river, but we never saw them.

Guests enjoy the river
Marissa and Stephanie get their feet wet
Directions to the other Under Canvas locations
Lobby Tent

Chattie, who is an avid birder, told us about the several variety of swallows in and around camp.  One of them is a very vibrant blue color.  While sitting outside our tent this afternoon, one flew up and hovered for just a second a few feet from us.  Gorgeous!  Wish we had a chance to see more of them.

We got dinner to-go from the restaurant on-site.  Mallory recommended the trout fritters for the appetizer and boy did she nail that one.  We took our food back to the Lobby Tent at the camp and enjoyed our meal while watching a Bozeman musician, Cole Thorn, sing & play her ukulele and entertain the crowd. 

Dinner with Cole Thorn
After eating dinner, Mallory and I moved to the shade and enjoyed more Cole Thorn

After dinner, Stephanie & Mallory took some pictures of Marissa (senior pics) with the Montana mountains in the background.  Our photo shoot was interrupted by watching a pronghorn run up the hill next to us, which is not super common during senior pics.

We wrapped up the evening around 11:30 by sitting outside our tent and skywatching.  So. Many. Stars! We spotted five satellites flying overhead, which is a fun game (Stephanie was the champ at this).  Dusk does not end until around 10:30, so you have to stay up pretty late for the stargazing.

We have had a great couple of days at Under Canvas, and not just because we are that much closer to Mallory (but that doesn’t hurt).  We will sleep well tonight knowing we maximized our time with Mallory.

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