This was our fourth day at Yellowstone National Park.
With our guided tour complete and our laundry done, we were ready to spend the day exploring the park on our own.
We basically mapped out our tour guide’s suggestions and added one viewing point and one place for lunch which we brought along.
Brink of the Upper Falls & South Rim Drive
We left our campsite in Fishing Bridge RV park and drove through Hayden Valley, land of the bison jams. Our first stop was the “Brink of the Upper Falls.” The trail to see the “Brink of the Upper Falls” was just a short walk from the parking lot.
After seeing the Brink of the Upper Falls, we continued on South Rim Drive. We stopped at Discovery Overlook which is opposite of the Brink of the Upper Falls. In other words, we looked across at where we had just been. I include a map for illustration. There are numerous hiking trails throughout the 20 mile canyon area.
We continued our drive along South Rim Drive. There were two other Upper Falls Viewpoints, in addition to Artists Point. Even though we had stopped at Artists Point on our guided tour, we went there again. The views are absolutely magnificent.
Washburn Hot Springs Overlook
We left the South Rim Drive and headed north to the scenic Washburn Hot Springs Overlook. This was just a short stop to enjoy a view.
According to an information sign at the overlook, we were looking out at a caldera – the remnants of a collapsed magma chamber which is the heart of Yellowstone. We were standing on the northeast rim. Mt. Sheridan, which is 32 miles away on the southwest rim, can also be seen.
Also, according to the sign, Washburn Hot Springs, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons can be seen from this vantage point. We saw some of these, but we could have seen and identified more had we had our binoculars with us.
Unfortunately, our binoculars were back at our travel trailer. So, take a lesson from our mistake. Binoculars are not just for wildlife viewing. Maybe keep them in the car?
This was as far north as we would go on this day. After enjoying the view, we headed south, just a bit to lunch.
Just a bit south of the Washburn Hot Springs Overlook is Dunraven Pass. This is a 6 mile trail to the top of Mount Washburn. The views of it online look spectacular. However, we took a pass on the Durnraven Pass and instead found a picnic area and enjoyed our lunch and a game of Scrabble.
Picnic areas are noted on the map given out when entering the national park. This picnic area had about six picnic tables spread out, and there was also a restroom which looked kind of rustic. But hey, I’m not complaining!
I’ll also mention we had put on our bug spray. Even in the daytime, bug spray is needed. And just to be extra safe, we put the bear spray on the picnic table, just in case a bear wanted to play Scrabble with us.
Canyon Visitor Education Center
Yellowstone has ten Visitor Centers and information stations located throughout the park. Even though the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center was closed for remodeling during our trip, an information tent had been set up near the main area and was staffed by national park rangers during our visit. We stopped there and got information about short hikes in the area.
At one of the ranger programs, we talked with a park volunteer who had been coming for years. With so many visitor centers, I asked which ones were the best to visit. This person said the movie at the Canyon Visitor Education Center was the best. So, that is what we did at this stop.
We continued our drive south, through Hayden Valley and stopped at Mud Volcano. Mud Volcano was another area recommended by our tour guide. This hot, steaming, muddy area was really cool.
Here is a map of the trail. The trail is 2/3 of a mile. Click through the slideshow to see each of the features named on the trail map.
After exploring the Mud Volcano Trail, we headed back to our campsite. Our Chambers self-guided tour was over for the day.
A few days ago, when we took the Circle of Fire tour, Tony, our guide, said Fishing Bridge should really be called “No Fishing Bridge.” That night, we found out why. We attended a ranger program about the “History of Fishing Bridge”, and there we learned the bridge was closed to fishing in 1973.
The bridge was closed because it is a major spawning area for the Cutthroat Trout and also because of over-fishing. Yellowstone Lake has an issue because a non-native Lake Trout was introduced in the Lake. Actions were taken to return the lake to its natural balance. People still walk across the bridge to watch the fish. Like everything we have seen in Yellowstone, Fishing Bridge is also a very scenic spot.