Forming a Plan
We decided to try something different today. We decided it may be a better plan to initially drive to our main destination and hit other stops on the return. Well, it was worth a try, and while it seemed like a good idea, things did not go exactly like we had planned. Go figure!
The Iconic Old Faithful
It appears that Old Faithful is definitely the epicenter of Yellowstone National Park. When we pulled into the parking lot, we knew right away that this stop would be a bit longer than we had anticipated.
We went directly to the viewing area for the famous geyser as it was less than an hour to the predicted eruption time. Covid-19 added some additional frustration to this entire experience. Signs were clearly posted that six foot spacing was expected. Of course we realized that probably would not be respected, but what shocked us was the total disregard for common courtesy. The first thing that happened was Mr & Mrs Obese came in and violated the six foot rule, sitting right in front of us and totally crowding the other visitors on that bench. After visitors, including us, waited for 45 minutes to an hour, an alarming number of people went directly to the front, totally ignoring the six foot spacing and blocking views.
After the geyser performed the legendary predictable display, the crowd dispersed quickly. The display from the geyser was less than we had expected. My memories from my childhood were of a much larger geyser, but it did erupt predictably as it has for centuries.
We both felt that Castle Geyser, which we could see in the distance put on a much more interesting show.
The Upper Geyser Basin
After watching Old Faithful, we did a walkabout around Upper Geyser Basin, and we really enjoyed the various hot pools and geysers in the area. It amazes us that each pool we have seen is unique in colors and features. It is fascinating how much they vary.
Castle Geyser, which we saw erupting from the Old Faithful viewing area, was particularly interesting with the buildup of the mineral deposits that have accumulated over the centuries.
The Upper Basin really makes this stop worth while, and we could have spent more time doing the walks around the basin. There are 4.5 miles of trails around Upper Geyser Basin.
Then We Tried to Leave
Leaving the parking lot was reminiscent of trying to leave a sold out concert at the King Dome. After waiting for about 45 minutes, we finally reached what should have been the exit to the main road only to discover that there had been a huge accident on the highway and all traffic was being routed through the Old Faithful parking area and out a service road to the main highway. So we really can’t pin that wait on the mass of visitors at Old Faithful.
So What Makes Old Faithful Interesting?
All ranting and raving aside, the fact that Old Faithful has been erupting like clockwork for as long as anybody knows and well beyond is pretty amazing! Some of the geysers in the area have come and gone. Others are very unpredictable, and the ones that are predicted can vary in up to a two day window for activity.
The village is really interesting, and had Covid-19 not been an issue, we would have loved to see the historical inn and the visitor center. In fact without dealing with Covid, the entire visit would have been much more enjoyable, and we knew when we planned all this that it would be a thing.
Our thoughts about this attraction are that it is a Disney-like crowd. In an environment not impacted by Covid-19 it would have been a completely different experience. In a non-pandemic visit, we would probably spend more time looking around the village and exploring the Upper Geyser Basin. As for viewing the iconic geyser, we would not take the time to observe from the viewing area but we would watch it from somewhere in the vicinity without taking the time to sit and wait for it.