On our trip to Old Faithful on Saturday, we took a quick drive through Firehole Canyon. There was a spot in the river where people were swimming and jumping from the rocks into the river, and the kids definitely wanted to go back there and try it.
For our last visit to the park, we decided that we would drive down to Old Faithful in the morning, but that we would wear our bathing suits so that we could stop and swim on the way back.
We got to the park around 10:30, and almost immediately encountered a traffic jam. We thought it was going to be an elk or bison, and were prepared to just keep on driving, but then we discovered that it was a bald eagle.
This one was a lot closer than the other we had seen, so I got out of the car to get a quick picture . . . Nice!
We kept moving after that, and arrived at Old Faithful around 11:45. Apparently, we had just missed the previous eruption, and the next one was predicted for 1:01pm. We had some time to kill, so we walked through the Gift Shop and the Visitor Center. The Old Faithful Visitor Center is very educational with all kinds of displays and interactive exhibits to explain the geysers and other geological features of Yellowstone.
Around 12:30, we made our way out to the seating area around Old Faithful, and got seats. A ranger was giving a talk on the geyser, and we caught the end of it.
Looking at the picture from my Grandma’s visit 40+ years ago, it appears that you used to be able to get A LOT closer to the geyser. There’s a much bigger space now between the geyser and the seating area!
There was just a little steam venting when we first arrived,
but occasionally there would be little bursts of water and steam.
The prediction window is 20 minutes long (1:01pm +/- 10 minutes), and the crowd grew as the time got closer.
We all continued to watch as 1pm came and went . . . and Old Faithful continued to tease us with small spurts of water and steam.
Finally, at 1:18pm, the real show began!
We watched in amazement as the tower of steaming water grew to over 130 feet in height!
We kept watching as the tower of steaming water reduced in height,
and after 2-1/2 minutes it was over!
What a great show!
The crowd dispersed, making room for the next round of viewers, and we went back to the car. We headed back the way we came from, looking for a picnic area where we could stop for lunch before getting to the swimming hole.
We stopped in the picnic area at Firehole Lake Drive, and then continued around the drive to see the Great Fountain Geyser.
By the time we got to it, it was done, though!
The kids had had enough of geysers, hot springs, paint pots . . . and other thermal features, and they just wanted to go swimming, so we made our way back to Firehole Canyon.
We drove through the canyon,
and past Firehole Falls.
This is another spot that my Grandma had visited . . . I wonder if they allowed swimming back then?!
It wasn’t nearly as crowded as it had been on Saturday, and we lucked out and got a parking spot right at the top of the steps as somebody was leaving!
We made our way down to the water,
and the boys got right in!
After taking their picture, I joined them and we made our way into the current.
The center of the river was moving pretty good, but you could stay near the edges without too much trouble. The water wasn’t too cold, but just enough to be refreshing!
Despite the warning signs, there was a spot upriver where people were jumping off the canyon wall into a deep pool, so we waded over there to watch.
These guys weren’t crazy enough to try that, but there was a low rock up further where they could jump into some rapids and ride them back to where I was, so they all decided to give that a try.
This is the spot – I got this picture as we drove out!
They all tried it once, and Tom decided that was enough for his old body, but the boys kept going back for more! They got a little banged up, but nothing bad . . . Nicolas said he wished we had found this earlier in the week, so he could have spent more time there!
Just before we left, they decided to float over the small rapid at the end of the swimming area, and Nicolas said that was rougher than the big rapids they had gone in . . . he hit his foot on a rock, and made me take a picture of it for the blog!! LOL
Swimming in Firehole Canyon was a great way to end our week in Yellowstone!