As expected, there was a lineup to get into the park. Luckily the line went fast and before long we had entered through the southwest entrance of Yellowstone Park.
We decided to take a western route through many of the park's geyser basins. We made a quick stop at Old Faithful but we had just missed an eruption and decided we didn't want to wait a full hour to see the next one.
The rest of the day was mostly spent driving with a few stops to walk among hot springs and smaller geysers. We also tried unsuccessfully to secure a spot at one of the few campgrounds within the park. We should have planned for this and entered the park earlier in the day—I think our string of camping luck left us feeling a bit overconfident.
We eventually made one last attempt to find some first-come-first-serve camping in the north-east section of the park. The views opened up into wide river valleys filled to the brim with bison. Unfortunately, both of the campsites in this section of the park were still closed for the season and we were running out of time for the night. We doubled back and exited the park through the north-west towards the town of Gardiner. On our way out, we stopped near Canary Springs to see the natural mineral terraces.
We spent that night in our car (actually quite comfortably) and woke the next morning bright and early to try again for a spot in the park.
We arrived at Norris campground right around 7 AM and joined a line that was already forming for that day. Around 9 AM we secured a spot and began to set up a tent.
I disappeared for a second to change clothes and clean up a bit and when I returned I found a ranger in our site talking with Kinsey. Apparently, he had given her a little scare approaching the campground pretending to growl like a bear. He informed us there had been a grizzly sighting near our site that morning, and that we needed to be diligent about carrying bear spray and locking up anything that might smell interesting to a bear. It was good for us to know, but maybe he didn't need to sneak into our site to make the point...
That afternoon we headed to the Firehole River to have a picnic and do some fishing. We set up our camp chairs on an island in the river and read in the sun for a bit before doing some early evening fishing as the wind started to die down. We didn't have much luck, but at least we can say we wet a line in Yellowstone.
Our drive back was a bit chaotic. Drivers in the park are very We stopped at the gate to our campsite to pick up some firewood and found the ranger in charge of the booth nervously peeking around the corner. As we pulled up, we saw why he was being so nervous—a giant bison was about 30 ft away grazing in the grass. He told us a story about how the bison had just made a false charge at him as he exited the shack containing the firewood. They had both caught each other off guard. The bison seemed calm now and ignored everyone walking by in the busy campground.
That night the weather changed and the temperature dropped considerably. We woke up with a bit of frost on the tent and packed up quickly to avoid an incoming rain cloud. We headed out of the park towards Livingston, MT where we had an Airbnb waiting for us. Some overdue showers were coming our way.