Meeting our guide and beginning our tour
The morning of the tour we got up in plenty of time to get to Flagg Ranch. We were early and decided to wait in the lodge. I saw a white SUV out of the lodge window but didn’t see what it said. I think we thought we would be picked up in a van with some other people. A man came into the lodge and said he was the guide and driver for our tour. He said we were the only ones on the tour. We were surprised! The guide’s name was Chris. He was very accommodating and very nice. I think we were lucky to have him as he had a lot of experience in Yellowstone . He said he would stop when ever we wanted to take photos.
Flagg Ranch was not too far from the south entrance of Yellowstone. Along the way, we stopped at the Yellowstone National Park sign. Then we stopped at a waterfall and also saw several marmots sunning themselves on a large rock overhanging the Lewis River.
Chris shared a lot of information about the history of Yellowstone. The next picture shows some of the devastation from the fire of 1988. The fires destroyed about 30 to 40 per cent of the park.
Old Faithful Geyser and the Upper Geyser Basin
We made a quick stop at Lewis Lake and watched some people kayaking but I didn’t take any photos. From there, we continued on to Old Faithful and Old Faithful Inn. We arrived at the Inn and discovered Old Faithful was just about to erupt. We ran out to wait but after waiting about 20 minutes nothing happened. Our guide went in to check and said they had the wrong time and it would be another 20 minutes before it erupted. In the meantime, we walked around the other geothermal areas near Old faithful. Eruptions from this mighty geyser occur every 90 minutes and can shoot to heights of 106 – 108 feet.
Within the Upper Geyser Basin you can see all four types of geothermal features: geysers, hot springs, mudpots, and fumaroles. Yellowstone Park actually sits on top an enormous super volcano. The immense heat from its underground magma powers the geyser basins.
A series of boardwalks leads the visitor from the hotel to the Old Faithful geyser. There are seats all around the geyser. We ended up on the far side as we had walked all around looking at the small and colorful pools of boiling waters and steam vents. The colors actually come from the complicated interplay of underwater vents and lawns of bacteria.
It was time for Old Faithful to erupt. Our guide said it usually erupts either 10 minutes before or after the time stated by the hotel time clock. He also said that how long it runs depends on how long it went the time before.
It was a fantastic display but only lasted a few minutes. There are many signs all over about not getting off the board walks. You can be fined up to $1,000 for stepping on the thin crust and you can also get hurt by the underground heat and steam.
The Old Faithful Inn is an example of the “Golden Age” of rustic resort architecture. It is unique in that it is one of the few log hotels still standing in the United States. Leaving the Old Faithful geyser basin, we drove on to the most colorful part of Yellowstone – Midway Geyser Basin where we saw the park’s largest hot spring, Grand Prismatic. I will continue a description of the Grand Prismatic in part 2 of day 7.