Yellowstone to Grand Teton National Park

Our time in Yellowstone National Park was almost up.  Today, we are driving from Yellowstone to Grand Teton National Park, a leisurely 64 miles from our campsite in Yellowstone to our campsite in Grand Teton.

We stopped at West Thumb Geyser Basin as we departed from Yellowstone.  Although it is small compared to the other geyser basins in Yellowstone, it is really nice.  It is right on the shore of Yellowstone Lake, which became more understandable once we learned how the West Thumb bay on Yellowstone Lake was formed.  The lake itself was formed by glacier but West Thumb was a separate, much later caldera from a collapsed volcano, and is much deeper than the rest of the lake.  So you are where you might expect a hotspot to be, and you would be right. 

The boardwalk through the geyser basin takes you past the usual bubbling pools and geysers, although none of the geysers there are currently actively spouting.  There was some real beauty and some goodly bubbling, though.  As we walked down to the lake, we found two bubblers right on the shore.  They said that one of them was used by fishermen who would catch a fish and then drop it right into the pool so you could catch and cook it without taking it off your line.  That Fishing Cone wasn't active right now, but the adjacent Lakeshore Geyser was close enough to do the same thing and was vigorously bubbling.

There were some really pretty pools including the Black Pool. It is quite amazing how deep and clear some of the pools are.  And how blue.

But now it's time to depart Yellowstone and head south to Grand Teton National Park.  Since it was much less than a day drive, and we couldn't get into our new site until after noon, we took our time at West Thumb Geyser Basin and the Grant Village Visitor Center where they feature the Yellowstone fire of 1988.  We were last here in 1987. We learned that the fire was really fierce and burned about a third of the park.  They vigorously defended the park buildings including Yellowstone Inn which barely escaped but had to let the fire burn through the rest of the park.  They paid the price from the earlier philosophy of vigorously defending all fires when they shifted to the current philosophy of letting fires burn in areas except where people safety and park buildings are affected. But it sounded like they really couldn't do much in the face of such a raging fire and hurricane-like winds. The fire was finally put out in mid September when snow fell.  We remember in 1972 when snow fell on Labor Day and chased us from our tent to a small cabin at Yellowstone Lake Hotel.  We saw that those yellow cabins are still in use.

It was rainy off and on all day, and when we got to Grand Teton, we douldn't see much of the Teton Range. We got information about a driving tour so that seemed like the perfect thing to do.  We had time to do some of it and we saw some of the Teton Range. On our way back north after stopping in Jackson for groceries, we found a large bison herd in the Elk Ranch Flats area.

We decided to go to both the 7pm and 9pm ranger talks.  It is unusual to have two evening talks but they have them here.  The first was about bison mostly and that was fun to learn after seeing the herd early in the day. The second was about what you can see and do in the park and that was great, too, although we have no intention of trying to climb to the top of Grand Teton, which requires real rock climbing skills.

Between talks, we went out onto the deck at the back of the visitor center whch overlooks Coulter Bay and Jackson Lake.  And there was a really great sunset which we should have expected given the inclement skies but I didn't bring my camera, so I went back to our camp site to get my camera. The color was mostly gone by the time I returned but we have two more chances to see a great sunset.

We are staying in the Coulter Bay Village RV Park.  Like Yellowstone, it is a full hookup RV park.  Unlike Yellowstone, it is like a campground.  There is lots of space between sites, and it has a much more pleasant feel than did the RV park at Yellowstone.  While I would recommend Fishing Bridge RV Park in Yellowstone only if you really wanted hookups, I would recommend Coulter Bay RV to anyone. They don't allow fires but that is typical of RV parks. Showers here are extra cost while they were included in Fishing Bridge but we generally prefer to take showers in our trailer.  It is, after all, why we bought this new trailer. We even have Verizon coverage in the campground. The national parks have pretty good cellular coverage, surprisingly so given what I read on their web sites before our travel.  There is Wifi at the general store and this is also typical today that there is some Wifi at stores, restaurants, and visitor centers, although the vendor at Yellowstone charged for Wifi at their restaurants. The store at Coulter Bay is surprisingly well equipped especially with groceries and is reasonably (not tourist) priced.