Yellowstone Lake (with West Thumb and Grant Village Campground
West Thumb is an interesting thermal. It sits right on the edge of Yellowstone Lake in the West Thumb area (look at the map – it looks like a thumb). It is similar to many other thermals but the best part? It is easily biked to from our campsite! Colorful hot springs, steaming fumaroles, and interesting rock formations make up this area.
West Thumb Thermals
Several places around the lake have thermals but none as pretty and exquisite as West Thumb. And recently, scientist discovered several underwater …way under… in the depths of Yellowstone Lake. And here there are strange chimney vents. These are very similar to ones found in volcanic areas in the Pacific Ocean. But apparently there are not enough to warm the lake up. …Yellowstone water rarely gets above 450 even in the hottest of summer days!
More West Thumb Thermals
One thing is very apparent. Tourist love this place! Tour bus after tour bus enter the park daily. Car traffic is similar to Boston on many days. Fortunately, Grant Village is the least popular area. Now, that sounds bad. “Popular” is probably not the correct word to use. It is more tranquil, laid back, and more like “life in the slow lane” compared to Old Faithful, Canyon, or Mammoth Hot Springs. Having said this, all 480 campsites are booked for the summer. Rooms at the inn are full. If you want to stay in Yellowstone you better book now …for next year!
Still have pretty big snowbanks
The good thing is, the roads are relatively good (really good compared to Maine roads). No matter where you stay, it is an easy ride to the next village (usually about 20 miles). One might ask why each village is about 20 miles apart? Before the “horseless” carriage came along, a day’s ride in a horse-drawn coach (or horseback) was about 20 miles.
About staying outside the park. Gardiner, West Yellowstone, Cody, and Jackson Hole all have multiple lodging facilities and are an easy drive to the gate. West Yellowstone is the closest to Old Faithful, Paint Pots, and Firehole River, which makes it very popular. Be prepared to wait at the gate. Jackson Hole is at the southern end of Grand Teton National Park (a beautiful destination in of itself) but makes the road a little longer to get to Yellowstone. Gardiner to the north is the main entrance and has the Roosevelt Arch, close to Mammoth Hot Springs, and just a short drive to Lamar Valley and the Bearthooth Highway (Northeast entrance). Finally Cody. This is the closest “big” town. It has a lot to offer: shopping, rodeos, and lodging, everything western. And the ride in from there is outstanding as you pass through Buffalo Bill State Park and Shoshone National forest before entering Yellowstone.
West Yellowstone, MT. & Roosevelt Arch in Gardiner, MT.
Back to tourist and hot springs – we finally made it out to West Yellowstone. Traffic coming into the park was unbelievable, 4 lanes at the gate, backed up a half mile! The weather was unbelievable too! It was spitting snow and sleet as the temperatures barely reached 40 (I remind you this was on June 12th). We tried a week earlier to visit the Paint Pots (colorful thermals just north of Old Faithful) but it was full. This time on our return trip, we were successful. Despite the cold temps, it was packed… and windy. We finished the day with some retail therapy in Old Faithful.
Madison River and the half mile of traffic at the West Yellowstone gate
After a full day in Old Faithful/West Yellowstone we took the next day to relax …at West Thumb. Being close to “home” we were able to catch the different light on the thermals by visiting different times of the day. (We have discovered that the same spot but with different light, looks a lot different). There is another advantage to living here, evening visitation is often less crowded.
Relaxing back at the “campah”, we grab a cold one and walk the 100 yards to the helo pad. Here, you see West Thumb in all its grandeur. Admiring the peace and quiet, we view the thermals off in the distance. To the right, the Red Mountains paint the sky with is white covered slopes. Sounds of peepers pierce the evening. Life is good.
STAY TUNED! More “tales from the campah”!
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