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Amarillo, Texas

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Not far from the halfway point on the old Route 66 lies the city of Amarillo, Texas. Today, I-40 bisects the city which is hard to miss on any mid-America east-west road trip. Amarillo is a classic, from it’s Route 66 historic area to its museums and quirky Americana. Road trippers will want to spend a day or more checking out everything this city has to offer.

On the beaten path…

American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum

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For those who aren’t horse people (we aren’t) and especially for those who are, this is a fantastic experience! Located in a beautiful building at 2601 I-40 east (I-40 and Quarter Horse Drive), this museum and hall of fame is definitely worth a stop for an hour or two.

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Bloodlines from the first recorded quarter horse in America in the 1700s to present day are shown on the floor of the stunning Grand Hall.

Cadillac Ranch

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Ten old Cadillacs (we only captured seven of them due to mud) buried nose down in a field just west of Amarillo on the south side of I-40. Bring your spray paint and leave your own mark on this American classic art installation.

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Jack Sisemore’s Traveland RV Museum

Bring on the nostalgia – this place is fun and free! Located at 4341 Canyon Drive (off of I-27 and Georgia). Enter the RV dealership for an escort out to the museum. Below are some of the vintage RVs and motorcycles that are on display.

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Trivia: Wally Byam incorporated the Airstream travel trailer company in 1931.
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Happy Max. 1948 Flxible used in the movie “RV” starring Robin Williams.
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The world’s oldest Airstream, a 1935 Torpedo, was owned by the Holman family for 81 years.
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1918 Harley Davidson motorcycle with rare left-hand side car.

The Big Texan

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An Amarillo and Route 66 icon! There is a restaurant (obviously), motel, and an RV park, along with photo ops and a free 72 oz steak dinner if eaten within one hour!

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Other points of interest on the beaten path:

  • Route 66 Historic District – west of downtown, beginning at SW 6th Street and McMasters.
  • Amarillo Zoo – 700 Comanchero Trail.
  • Wonderland Amusement Park – 2601 Dumas Drive.

Off the beaten path…

Coyote Bluff Cafe

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Located at 2417 S Grand, this place has some of THE BEST BURGERS we’ve eaten anywhere! Love the laid-back atmosphere here, too. Arrive early for lunch. There are only twelve or thirteen tables and they fill up fast.

Helium Monument

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Officially called the Helium Centennial Time Columns Monument, the 60-foot tall stainless steel structure was erected in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of helium. Four time capsules dedicated to the preservation and responsible use of natural resources are contained in the columns. The first capsule was opened in 1993, and the second in 2018. The other two will be opened on the hundredth, and thousandth anniversaries of the 1968 establishment of the monument. Amarillo is home to a former helium plant and the Texas panhandle once held most of the world’s helium reserves.

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Other points of interest off the beaten path:

  • Bill’s Backyard Classics. Classic car museum – 5309 S Washington Street.
  • Texas Air & Space Museum – 10001 American Drive.

Quirky…

Ozymandias on the Plains

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These “two vast and trunkless legs of stone” are located near the southeast corner of the intersection of I-27 and Sundown Lane, south of town. We suspect that people are using their leftover spray paint from Cadillac Ranch to keep this sculpture colorful.

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Second Amendment Cowboy

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This big (muffler man) guy can be found next to the Cadillac RV park at 2601 Hope Road and the south I-40 frontage road, west of Amarillo and just east of the Cadillac Ranch. The site also includes three old Cadillacs that have mannequins of Willie Nelson, John Wayne, and Elvis sitting in the driver’s seats, and a gift shop. The marker in front of the cowboy is a faux historical marker that touts our Second Amendment right to bear arms, but surprisingly the cowboy does not have a gun. Side note: the RV park is fabulous!

Nearby points of interest…

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument

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  • Website: Alibates Flint Quarries
  • Cost: free
  • Visitor center hours: daily 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Where: approximately 40 minutes north of Amarillo off of Highway 136
  • Hiking trails
  • Ranger led tours of the quarries by reservation only

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Come here to learn about the Plains Indians who quarried the harder-than-steel flint to make arrowheads and spear points. Dating as far back as 13,000 years, flint from these quarries has been found far and wide. While at the visitor center, watch a film about the monument, and then enjoy the small museum.

Lake Meredith National Recreation Area

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  • Website: Lake Meredith
  • Cost: free entrance
  • Visitor center located in Fritch, Texas open daily 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, except holidays
  • Where: seven minutes west of Fritch, Texas, which is approximately 40 minutes north of Amarillo
  • Hiking, RV and tent camping, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hunting
  • Hotels, additional RV campgounds, restaurants, and groceries available in Fritch and in Borger, which is approximately 20 minutes east of Fritch

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Check with the park regarding lake levels and boat preparation before arrival. Hunters must comply with park and state regulations. Texas fishing licenses are required. Camping is free at all sites, except for the electric/water hook-up sites at Sanford-Yake. See the website for details.

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Other nearby points of interest:

  • Palo Duro Canyon State Park – approximately 30 minutes south and east of Amarillo. Beautiful Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the US. (We will cover Palo Duro Canyon in a separate post.)
  • Large Cross in Groom, Texas – approximately 45 minutes east of Amarillo on the south side of I-40. Great stop with Stations of the Cross, which are life-size sculptures depicting the crucifixion of Jesus, and a visitor center that displays an exact replica of the Shroud of Turin. Free, but donations are appreciated.

Okay, that’s going to do it for our Amarillo, Texas overview. We hope you enjoy your journey. We love that you joined us on ours. Please come back again! You never know where we’re going to take you. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

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Vintage motel in Delta, Colorado

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: Cameron Trading Post

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Cameron Trading Post

Where in the world is it?

It is located in Cameron, Arizona, which is about 51 miles north of Flagstaff, at the intersection of US Highway 89 and Arizona Highway 64, and east of the Grand Canyon. The trading post was established in 1916 by two brothers named Hubert and C.D. Richardson.

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The Cameron Suspension Bridge

The Cameron Suspension Bridge, above, opened in 1911 and spans the Little Colorado River Gorge. This bridge allowed faster, safer travel to what is now the town of Cameron, Arizona. The Richardson brothers built Cameron Trading Post next to the bridge where it still sits and thrives today. No longer in use, the bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Little Colorado River Gorge west of Cameron, Arizona

Second Stop: Helena, Montana

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The Beautiful Montana Capitol
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Herd Bull Sculpture at the Montana Historical Society

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It’s a fact, Jack!

Arizona produces more than half of the copper in the US, making it the largest copper producing state. Montana is the fifth largest copper producing state in the US. At one time, the nation’s largest amount of copper was mined at Butte, Montana. One Montana resident, William A. Clark, became one of the wealthiest men in the US because of his copper mining interests, among other businesses, and was considered one of the three “Copper Kings” of Butte. His mansion there still stands today, although, it is now a bed and breakfast. Clarkdale, Arizona is four miles southwest of of the town of Jerome, Arizona. Jerome, a National Historic Landmark, is the home of the now-defunct United Verde Mine, once one of the largest copper producing mines in the US. United Verde Copper Company, which was owned by William A. Clark, developed the United Verde Mine. Clarkdale, Arizona is named for William A. Clark. And now you know…

That’s all for this post. Thank you for joining us on our Quick Stop tour of the Cameron Trading Post and Helena, Montana. We invite you to return to our site every week for another great adventure on the road. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

Badwater Basin

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

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The road goes on forever and the party never ends. Robert Earl Keen

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: Turkey, Texas

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Where in the world is it?

Turkey is located in the Texas panhandle, about 103 miles southeast of Amarillo, at the intersection of Highway 86 and Highway 70.

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This restored vintage Phillips 66 cottage gas station sits right in the middle of town.

So what’s so special about this tiny town with its population of around 420 at last count? Well, it’s the home of Bob Wills, the King of Western Swing. The town hosts a Bob Wills Day festival every year on the last Saturday in April. There’s a museum dedicated to Mr. Wills in town, and a monument (pictured below) in the city park honoring him and his Texas Playboys band.

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This replica tour bus sits next to the old gas station

 Second stop: Dismal River

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Where in the world is it?

Dismal River is located in west-central Nebraska. This part of the river is located near the town of Thetford, off of US Highway 83.

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We didn’t think the river was dismal at all. Actually, it was a beautiful, welcome sight within the Nebraska sand hills. The river runs for only about 72 miles until it converges with the Middle Loup River, and its source is the Ogallala Aquifer.

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It’s a fact, Jack!

During the early 1950s, another western swing band, Ole Rasmussen and his Nebraska Cornhuskers, became popular recording artists on the Capitol Records label. Ole Rasmussen must have idolized Bob Wills because he styled his music as well as his band’s country chic look after Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. Though one would think that Ole Rasmussen and his Nebraska Cornhuskers were from the state of Nebraska, they weren’t. They were from California. And now you know…

That’s all for this post. Thank you for joining us on our virtual tour of Turkey, Texas and the Dismal River. We invite you to return to our site every week for another great adventure on the road. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

Hot Air Balloon flight

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Seven

 

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Peeking through the trees at the Grand Teton Mountains

→Note: this is the seventh post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

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We would be remiss if we did not mention that Grand Teton National Park is Yellowstone’s next door neighbor to the south. The John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway is the route between West Thumb (Yellowstone) and the northern tip of Jackson Lake (Grand Teton). The scenic parkway is twenty-seven miles long, but the road (US Hwy 191) continues another forty or so miles to Jackson, Wyoming, winding through the park along the Snake River. Teton Park Road is the one to take for the most scenic parts of the park. The park road begins at Jackson Lake Junction, running for approximately twenty miles, then joins US Hwy 191 at Moose Junction.

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Grand Tetons and Jackson Lake

Destination: Grand Teton National Park

  • Website link: Grand Teton National Park
  • Cost: $35.00 per car for one week pass
  • Accommodations include: lodges, cabins, dude ranch, tent camping, backcountry camping, RV campground, restaurants (hotels, campgrounds, and restaurants also available in Jackson, Wyoming)
  • Hiking, biking, scenic drives, wildlife, fishing, canoeing/kayaking, climbing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, (downhill skiing and other winter sports available in Jackson, Wyoming)
  • When to go: anytime, but check the website as well as road reports for closures during winter months

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Since this is our final Yellowstone post, we thought we would list some tips for visiting this spectacular park:

  • Don’t rush. Plan to spend several days, if not a week or more, just to see the major attractions of the park. The park is so big it would take months (or years, even) to cover the majority of its almost 3,500 square miles.
  • Make park campground and hotel/lodge reservations well in advance of your trip. These sites book months in advance. Over four million people visited the park in 2017!
  • RV sites in Yellowstone can be small and difficult to maneuver, especially for longer rigs. There are many RV parks outside the park.
  • IMG_0350The wildlife in Yellowstone (and Grand Teton) is wild! The park service recommends staying at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves, and 25 yards away from all other large animals. And, never feed the wildlife, including squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. Animals that get used to being fed by humans don’t continue to thrive in the wild.
  • Hike with a group. Bears are more likely to attack a lone traveler than to approach a group. Hikers might want to consider carrying bear spray.
  • Stay on the boardwalks and designated trails in geyser areas. People have been killed because they did not follow the rules.
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Colorful thermophiles at the edge of boiling Excelsior Geyser
  • Our last and most important tip is to plan, plan, plan before you go. Research the park’s website, watch online videos, and read blogs! Decide on everything you want to see and do while you’re there and write it down. We make a detailed itinerary for every trip. Yes, itineraries take time (and we don’t always stick to them), but it beats arriving at a destination and not having a clue about where to go, where to eat, and what to do.

Below are a few more pictures of beautiful Yellowstone National Park.

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Thank you for joining us on our Yellowstone National Park adventure. We hope that by posting our trips we are inspiring you to plan your own adventures to the places we have visited and loved. Become a follower, or simply like our page. Follow us on Facebook. Leave us a comment. Tell us about your own travels. Come back often to see more great road trip destinations, and tell your friends about us!

We leave this post with a picture of a vintage 1936 National Park Bus. Eight of these refurbished tour buses operate in the park today.

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Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Six

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→Note: this is the sixth post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

Destination: Tower-Roosevelt Area

From Mammoth Hot Springs, take the northern Upper Loop east/southeast for 18 miles toward the Tower-Roosevelt Area. Drive time between Mammoth and Tower: 45 minutes…unless you get stuck in a bison jam, and then there’s no telling how long it will take.

Travel tip: always have snacks and drinks in the car.

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Bison jam!

This part of the park is rolling hills and vast grasslands with mountain peaks in the background. We saw many bison here. Interestingly, as many bison as we have seen on our travels, we still get a thrill when we see them. Did you know that the bison in Yellowstone were almost extincted due to unenforced hunting in the early years of the park? The current genetically pure (haven’t been bred with cattle) herd, which now numbers in the thousands, are the descendants of the original twenty-four head that were diligently preserved and carefully bred by the park.

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A shot of the beauty of the most northern part of the park

Calcite Springs Overlook

The Calcite Springs Overlook is about half-way between Mammoth and Tower. This is a must-see stop when in this part of the park. There is a short trail (boardwalk with stairs) that affords great views and excellent photo ops. Our research said to allow 15 minutes for this stop, but we spent at least twice that time there enjoying the breathtaking views.

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Calcite Springs are the white cliffs along the Yellowstone River in the Yellowstone River Canyon
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Another view of the Yellowstone River

Did you know that the Yellowstone River originates in the Absaroka Mountains southeast of Yellowstone Lake? It does, and it flows through the park, then across Montana for about 700 miles until it meets the Missouri River in North Dakota. The Yellowstone River is the largest tributary of the Missouri River.

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Columnar basalt formations along the canyon edge
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Basalt column detail
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More basalt with beautiful mountain peaks in the background

A few miles after leaving this viewpoint, the road will begin to climb Dunraven Pass. While driving through this area, notice how the 1988 fires affected the landscape and how now, more than thirty years later, the forest is regenerating itself.

Continuing along the east side of the upper loop, you will find the Tower General Store, which is located a few miles south of Roosevelt Lodge. Behind the store is the Tower Fall trailhead. Uphill all the way, the trail is only one-tenth of a mile long, and the end result is a beautiful 132 foot waterfall!

Travel tip: Tower General Store has grab-and-go snacks and some fast food items. Whether eating purchased food or your own, picnic tables outside the store provide a good spot for lunch.

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Tower Fall
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Pinnacles above Tower Fall. The rock “towers” are what gives the fall its name.

That’s going to do it for this week. We thank you for joining us on our travels, and we hope that you will return to our site again and again. We are going to end the post with one more shot showcasing the beauty of the northern section of the park.

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Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Five

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→Note: this is the fifth post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

Destination: Mammoth Hot Springs Area

From West Yellowstone, drive 14 miles to Madison Junction, then drive east/northeast to Norris. Continue north from Norris Junction to Mammoth Hot Springs. Drive time between West Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs: 1.25 hours.

Travel tip: early morning travel between West Yellowstone and Madison Junction calls for a good pair of sunglasses! The sun will be blinding (seriously) while traveling east on this road.

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Antler Peak, Gallatin Range, Yellowstone National Park

In the Mammoth area of the park, there is something incredible to see at every turn. From mountain vistas to the breathtaking terraces of the hot springs to beautiful historic buildings.

Did you know that the park headquarters, located at Mammoth, was originally a fort? It’s true. Fort Yellowstone was established in 1886 as Camp Sheridan to protect the park from visitor damage, devious developers, and interlopers. The first buildings of Fort Yellowstone were constructed in 1891, and of course other buildings followed. The Army relinquished the fort to the National Park Service in 1918. Most of the original buildings are still used today as offices and living quarters.

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Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel built in 1936 is within the historic district

Stop in at the Albright Visitor Center to learn more about the history of Yellowstone National Park and Fort Yellowstone. Then take a walk through the Fort Yellowstone Historic District.

Travel tip: elk love the manicured lawns at the park headquarters. It is likely that you will see many of them grazing here or lying under trees in the shade. Remember to keep your distance, and do not approach them.

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This is the Roosevelt Arch at the north (Gardiner, Montana) park entrance. The landmark, which contains a time capsule, was constructed in 1903 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Unfortunately, due to road construction, we were unable to get a picture of the front that shows the inscription “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People”.
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Standing just under 11,000 feet, majestic Electric Peak can also be seen at the north park entrance. Note: This beautiful view can be seen anytime by going to our Places/Links tab at the top of the page, then clicking on the “All National Park Webcams” link. Scroll to Yellowstone and click on “North Entrance”. Watch the scenery change with the seasons!

Okay, we’ve kept you waiting long enough. It’s time to see the springs and terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs. Below are some of of favorite shots. We will let the pictures speak for themselves.

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While they appear to be icy in nature, the terraces are actually composed of travertine produced by the large amounts – about two tons per day – of calcium carbonate that comes up through the springs. The colors are created by those pretty little thermophiles.

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We’re going to call this post done. Thank you for joining us at Mammoth Hot Springs. Don’t forget to come back next week when we post the Tower-Roosevelt section of the park. In the meantime, we will close with a picture of Rustic Falls as seen from a pull-out on the side of the road just before arriving at Mammoth.

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Rustic Falls

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Four

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→Note: this is the fourth post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

Destinations: Upper, Midway, and Lower Geyser Basins

From Madison Junction, drive south for approximately 16 miles to Old Faithful. From Old Faithful, backtrack to Madison, stopping at the Midway and Lower Geyser Basins, then continue back to West Yellowstone.

First stop: Old Faithful

Ah, Old Faithful! Located in the Upper Geyser Basin, Old Faithful is not the tallest geyser in Yellowstone, nor is it the most frequent erupting geyser, but it is certainly the most popular! And what’s not to love? Take a look below.

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Just beginning…
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A little higher…
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Full blown!

Did you know that the white, chalk-colored substance around the geysers in Yellowstone is called geyserite? And, did you also know that the Upper Geyser Basin contains an estimated 100 hydrothermal features?

The Old Faithful Inn is another icon in the Upper Geyser Basin. Completed in 1904, the inn is a National Historic Landmark.

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Old Faithful Inn

Take a peek inside this “parkitectural” wonder…

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Constructed of locally sourced logs, the 76 foot tall ceiling of the lobby is simply spectacular. The stone chimney of the fireplace is made of rock quarried nearby. The clock on the chimney, as well as many of the light fixtures and furniture pieces are original to the building.
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The dining room as seen from the second floor.

Take the Upper Geyser Basin Trail (mostly boardwalk) for a total of five miles to see most everything this area has to offer.

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Castle Geyser

Second stop: Midway and Lower Geyser Basins

Midway Geyser Basin is home to another iconic Yellowstone feature: Grand Prismatic Spring. The spring is the largest and deepest hot spring in the park, and it is known for its deep blue water and the rainbow of colors that surround its outer edges. Take the boardwalk, which starts at the Firehole River, to see the spectacular features of the area. Then take the short hike up Picture Hill to Grand Prismatic Overlook to view the basin and and the spring from above. Park at Fairy Falls trailhead for this hike, which is a little over a half mile, and be prepared for crowds and limited parking.

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Grand Prismatic Spring

Next door to Grand Prismatic lies Excelsior Geyser crater, which formed when the geyser erupted with such force that it collapsed on itself. While not as grand as as Grand Prismatic, we loved the boiling crystal blue water of Excelsior.

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Excelsior Geyser Crater
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Turquoise Pool
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Silex Spring with its bright orange and yellow thermophiles
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Clepsydra Geyser – so pretty and playful!

We’re going to end here, but we hope you will come back next week for Yellowstone – Part Five when we will be covering the Mammoth Hot Springs area of the park. Thank you for joining us for this leg of the journey. We will close with an “abstract painting” shot of the colorful thermophiles of Grand Prismatic Spring.

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Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019