We were up early to grab a campsite at Norris Basin campground. We should have committed, given up the site at Indian Creek and taken the tent, but we weren’t sure what the chances were. There were expected to be around 15 spots opening up, including 8 in the walk-in area, which is nice for tents, so while Janet stayed in line I went back to get the tent. This was really only about a 12 mile drive, but there was construction which added ~20 minutes each way. We did score a very nice site in the walk in area of Norris Campground though and other than sitting in the car for a while, the shuffle didn’t really end up costing us much time since Janet was just standing in line for a site anyway. Norris is still our favorite campground in Yellowstone, particularly the walk-up sites along the river.
For the day’s first hike, we headed down to West Thumb Geyser Basin, a smaller area along Yellowstone Lake that we had never been to before. It mostly had pools, with no huge geysers, but was a pretty easy hike around a figure-8 boardwalk down to the edge of Yellowstone Lake.
Second visit was to the Old Faithful area, which beyond Old Faithful is a longer pavement & boardwalk loop past a wide variety of mid-sized features. I think we had done some of this before, but we went to the far end and saw a few new points such as Morning Glory Pool and Riverside Geyser that I don’t recall having seen before.
Our final major stop was Grand Prismatic Spring, which was kind of a two-part venture. There is an overlook trail, which is the first portion of the Fairy Falls trail which really gives the best view of Grand Prismatic Spring. The time of year and the weather were also pretty cooperative and the springs had minimal fog letting us see the colors very clearly. We hadn’t done this before, and I would highly recommend it as it’s the best way to get a semi-aerial view. Afterward, we also stopped at the Grand Prismatic Spring viewing area and walked the boardwalk through the steam.
We made two more brief stops at the Artists Paint Pots and Fountain Paint Pots, though I think both of those were better on the last visit in April in the wetter season when they were more mud and less steam. A number of the features in each were pretty lackluster due to the lack of water.
Having recently discovered that Milky Way photos really were possible if it is dark enough and the camera is pointed in the right direction, I had to give that a shot at the third locale of Norris Campground that night.