Get Off The Beaten Path In Yellowstone
If you are into US National Parks, then you’re most likely familiar with Yellowstone. It’s the grand daddy of them all. If you know Yellowstone, then you probably know Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs and maybe even the Grand Prismatic. Those are definitely must-sees when you visit Yellowstone, check out this article for more information, BUT… What if you could tap into some really cool spots that no one really knows about?
We had an unbelievable 5 week stay in Yellowstone and we made good friends with some of the folks that live and work there year round. Here are 4 really cool places they let us in on and it really turned a good visit to Yellowstone into a great one!
If you head to the north end of the park, just north of Mammoth Hot Springs, you’ll find Boiling River. The road will wind and descend after you pass the Mammoth campground and soon you’ll be able to see a river. You will also most likely see a few people hiking on a trail next to the river, so slow down because you are close. There isn’t a sign that marks Boiling River, but you’ll see a parking lot on both sides of the road. Head in there and hike down the path.
The hike is about a half mile to the entry point of Boiling River. You’ll be taking a dip in the Gardiner River, which is a very active river (read: STRONG current), and it is also a very cold river. The cool thing is that a hot spring feeds right into the river where you will be getting in, so if you find the right spot, you’ll have the perfect temperature of water.
A few words of advice while planning your visit:
- Plan on wearing close-toed shoes or sandals;
- The current is very fast as you’re trying to navigate through the river and there are hard and sometimes sharp rocks below your feet;
- Protecting your toes is critical;
- Be aware that some spots near the bank of the river can be quite hot;
- You are closer to the spring here, so be careful not to get burned.
Firehole Swimming Hole
Firehole Swimming Hole is another hot spring fed river that, while isn’t quite as warm as Boiling River, the current is much milder. Firehole is located on the west end of the park, just south of Madison Village. Here you can swim, float or splash around in the mild temperatured water. For the dare-devils out there, we saw a few cliff jumpers taking some huge plunges off the cliffs above. There are several signs posted that this is not allowed and looked to be very dangerous, so I’d advise against it.
Beach at Tower Falls
If you do the hike at Tower Falls, you’ll notice a sign at the end of the trail that says “Trail ends, climb at your own risk”. To me, that reads “Trail ends, fun begins”. Just past the sign is a steep slope that is covered in loose sand. Be ready to slide down and possibly having to do that on your bum.
Once you get down the slope you’ll get to a nice beach right on the Yellowstone River. There are some huge boulders in the river we had fun climbing on and dipping our feet in the water. A word of caution, the river moves really fast and could sweep someone away, so don’t get too adventurous here. This would be a really cool place to have a picnic or to just enjoy the sounds of the rushing river. Getting back up the slope is also a challenge, so take your time and be sure of your footing.
Yellowstone is a humongous park and has so much to offer. Try these 4 adventures, which are definitely off the beaten path, and ask around while you’re visiting to find others!
Lake Hotel – String Quartet
On the shores of Yellowstone Lake is the Lake Hotel. This beautiful hotel has a great restaurant, bar and even a place to get Starbucks coffee! During the summer months July and August, a string quartet plays in the lobby of the hotel. They play anything from classical music to rock and roll. This is a great place to grab a drink and relax to the great music after a day of hiking.