Another day in Yellowstone, up bright and early. For our second full day in the park, we decided to head south to the Old Faithful area. It only seemed right to make it a day all about thermal features.
Our first stop was at Artist Paintpots. The area includes a one-mile trail that winds through hot springs, mudpots, and a section of burned forest (remnants from the 1988 fire).
So, we pull into the small parking lot at the trailhead. Just as we were getting out of our car and reaching the trail, a huge bison popped out from the surrounding trees. Like 20 feet away from us. This was not us getting too close to wildlife – This was wildlife appearing out of nowhere, with no warning, in very close proximity. I could feel my heart pounding.
Two thoughts went through my head: 1) What else is awaiting us down this trail? and 2) What do we do if the bison is still in the parking lot when we return to our car? What if it’s standing between us and our car?
How the stupid people of the world willingly approach these animals is beyond me.
The first part of the trail didn’t alleviate my fears. It started out fairly wooded, and then opened into a burned forest.
Combined with the fact that there weren’t many people out and about at this point in the morning, the whole scene creeped me out. Freaked me out.
After what seemed like forever (in reality, probably two or three minutes), we reached the thermal features and other visitors. Yay!
Steam and mud. That sums up the Artist Paintpots.
The fun feature here was the mudpots. They were really gurgling, and we just stood and watched the mud bubbles boil up and burst. Wacky cool!
After completing the loop around the thermal features, it was time to go back to the car. The only other wildlife we saw was this guy:
Don’t get me wrong, though. He was one big jackrabbit 😉