West Yellowstone’s Spring Opening
Spring Opening on April 18, at Yellowstone’s west entrance arrived in gray tones and a surreal stillness we never experienced last summer.
Only a few cars trickled through the gates in late afternoon and, oftentimes, ours was the lone car on the road. Snow lined roads and freezing temperatures reminded us that winter still commanded the season. Icy winds raced across steaming grounds filling the air with a pungent sulphur-like aroma. A yellow orange orb, called the sun, made brief guest appearances. No matter what weather Mother Nature chooses, Yellowstone is beautiful!
Within minutes, Bison greeted us in their usual way, lumbering down the road blocking traffic in both directions to the delight of our two co-workers visiting Yellowstone for the first time.
Headed for Old Faithful Geyser, we stopped at Lower Geyser Basin and trekked along the snowbank covered boardwalk past the sign which brought laughs: “Caution: Boardwalks and trails may be extremely icy”. By then, temperatures dropped to a cool 37 degrees F!
Old Faithful parking lot looked like a maze carved through snow walls towering 10 to 12 feet high. Viewing benches, three deep, peeked through snow mounds and a tiny crowd of about 33 people shivered in anticipation of the geyser’s water show. Usually hundreds of people line the benches but apparently only the “faithfuls” arrived to wait for the geyser’s spouting this frigid spring day! Erupting about every 1 to 1-1/2 hours, depending on its previous performance, Old Faithful, took her time that evening but delivered. Back in the car, I was sure I left my toes at the geyser, I certainly couldn’t feel them in my boots!
Since that first visit, we ventured into the park in early morning, surviving 27 degree temperatures, late evening and all day. Through snow, sleet, rain and glorious sunshine, Spring is delivering a completely different experience than Summer.