Our next trails were along Firehole Lake Drive. This road is usually closed when we come here in the spring, so it was great fun to see what we'd been missing.
Along this drive is Great Fountain Geyser, which erupts every 9-12 hours. The sign predicting the next eruption hadn't been updated for a couple days, but the last one posted was supposed to be between 3:30AM and 7:30AM. Benches were set up for thirty or so and it amused me to think of everyone out there in the wee hours of the morning. When it does erupt, the geyser keeps going for 45-60 minutes, gradually spraying more and more. Since there was water on the ground and no activity at all while we were there, I'd say we missed it entirely.
Also along this drive is White Dome Geyser. With a 30-foot cone, it's thought to be one of the oldest in the park. Eruptions here can be as close as ten minutes or as far apart as three hours. It sprays about 30 feet, so about as high in the air as it is tall.
Firehole Lake has the longest hiking path here and I'd still categorize it an easy stroll. One path goes all the way around the small lake and includes a delightful section called, "Hot Cascades." Another path goes up to a pair of smaller geysers.
Our next stop was Gibbon Falls.
They have a sign there with three destinations/arrows. The arrow pointing forward says, "Brink of Falls, 75 feet." The other two point down the hill to lookout points. I thought it a very good thing to start with the short walk to the brink of the falls before going on the longer walks. About halfway around the walk, Greg said, "I think this just loops back to the parking lot." Yeah. Funny. I laughed and kept walking.
He caught up. "No, really," he told me. And sure enough, we came out at the other end of the parking lot. So yeah, we went back and examined the sign---because I have to get to the bottom of these things. It appeared that there maybe used to be a lookout point at the brink of the falls, but they'd converted it into a very long handicapped ramp for the parking lot.
On the downhill paths, multiple view points provided different views of the falls. This was one of my favorites:
Artist Paint Pots was our main destination for the day and turned out to be one of our favorite places in the park. The access road is another usually closed when we visit in the Spring, so this was a wonderful opportunity for us. I thought I'd been here as a kid, but I remembered very little of it, leading me to believe it was a place I wanted to go but didn't---or---I have a very poor memory---or the place has changed considerably since I was young. Any of these could be true, but I suspect I'd never actually hiked the trail. Greg said he'd never been either. We will definitely return.
On the way back, we stopped briefly at Norris Geyser Basin and took the short walk to the overlook of Porcelain Basin. We also had to stop and watch this bald eagle for a while:
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