On October 7th we needed to journey from Gardiner, MT, to Old Faithful. Since the weather had been unsettled in Mammoth we anticipated that there might be snow overnight. And there was, but only at the higher elevations. Both roads south from Mammoth were closed because of the weather. We started out into the park thinking at least one of the roads might be open by noon. But we hadn't proceeded more than a mile when a fit of common sense overtook us and we realized the possibility that neither road might open that day.
Consequently we elected to take the three hour round-about route from Gardiner to West Yellowstone. This involved driving north along the Yellowstone River to Livingston, west to Bozeman, and then south via the Gallatin River canyon to West Yellowstone where we could reenter the park.
This turned out to have been a very good decision since information at the west park entrance and later at Old Faithful suggested that both roads remained closed all day. Despite the extra driving we were rewarded with beautiful scenery both up the Yellowstone River valley and down through the Gallatin canyon.
After reentering the park we proceeded up to Madison Junction once more and then turned south along the Firehole River. This route features a series of thermal areas. Moving upstream, the first is the Lower Geyser Basin, then Midway Geyser Basin and finally the Upper Geyser Basin where Old Faithful is located.
I titled this portion of the travelogue The Lower Geyser Basins, and it will feature the interesting areas one encounters prior to reaching Old Faithful. This departs from the actual chronology of our travels since we didn't really stop at Black Sand, Bisquit, and Midway Geyser Basins until 2 days later when we were leaving the park.
Not long after starting up the road there is a waterfall on the Firehole River. It seems interesting that both the Gibbon and Firehole Rivers have waterfalls not far upstream from where they join to form the Madison River.
This is followed by the first thermal area, the Lower Geyser Basin. We chose to start with the Firehole Lake Drive and soon found scenes similar to what we had seen at Norris Geyser Basin.