At the entrance to Yellowstone Park they had signs saying that there were forest fires and smoke in the park. It was a bit hazy but not noticeably smoky at the entrance but when we came over the pass into Yellowstone Basin there was a very distinct odor of wood smoke and it was difficult to see in the distance. As we came around Yellowstone Lake we could see dense smoke rising from a forest fire in the south. By the time we got to West Thumb however, there was enough wind from the west that the air had mostly cleared. We later learned there were three forest fires in Yellowstone that day.
There was a wheelchair accessible boardwalk around the West Thumb Geyser Basin although it was there mostly to protect the geysers. A few of the pools were bubbling and there was a wide variety of colors from pool to pool.
I guess you can’t visit Yellowstone and not see Old Faithful. We drove around to the Old Faithful Visitor’s Center and even though it was a weekday it was absolutely jammed with people. It took us over a half hour to find a parking place and walk the rest of the way to Old Faithful. We missed an eruption by 15 minutes and took a walk around while waiting for the next one. There was a somewhat handicap accessible path that took us around some hot geyser pools that, like those at West Thumb, were a variety of shapes and colors.
There is a set of seats in a semi-circle centered around the south-west side of Old Faithful. We grabbed a seat in front and waited for Old Faithful. By the time it erupted there were well over 500 people watching.
It took us another half an hour to get back to our car and brave the traffic out of the parking lot. We drove back to Cody through a series of thunderstorms that left rivers of water running next to the road in places. By the time we got back to Cody the rain had stopped and Cody had only gotten a trace.
I guess we felt that because we were playing the tourist we had to see Old Faithful but there are a lot of other parts of Yellowstone we didn’t see partly because of the forest fires had limited access but mostly because we didn’t have enough time. We would liked to have been able to come back but problems with the refrigerator in our motor home ate all our available time. The next time we visit Yellowstone we’ll put Old Faithful at the bottom of our list and see everything else first.