We flew into Bozeman late on Thursday night so we could have the day Friday to relax a bit. After breakfast at a cafe with about 30 different loose teas to choose from (a place made just for me) we headed down to Livingston.
The plan was just to wander around the village for a little while before proceeding to Chico. We ended up meeting a couple as we started our walk and chatted with them for about 20 minutes. They recommended that we stop at The Old Saloon on the way to Chico and check out an old mining village. Both turned out to be great recommendations.
The local legend of the saloon is that it was the inspiration for Cheeseburger in Paradise. Wikipedia has indicated that this is not in fact the case.
After lunch at the saloon when Dave lost a bet to me we checked in at Chico Hot Springs Resort . A great spa and resort with an amazing restaurant. After some relaxing with a massage and lounging at the pool we headed to the old mining town. One of the highlights of the day.
Day 2 - We're the 5%
Sleeping in on vacation is not something I am known for and this was no exception. We were up bright and early to get into Yellowstone early and start hiking. The majority of tourists don't stray very far from the main attractions which means the hiking trails are relatively empty. They say only 5-10 % of the visitors see anything outside what is 1 mile from the road. We definitely found this to be the case on our hike as we only encountered 1 other couple on our entire 6 mile hike at Mammoth Hot Springs.
The views from the hike were spectacular. Dave rated this as one of the best hikes he's been on of all time. Definitely the highlight of the day for us.
It's amazing to have so few people around and be the only ones watching the geyser from where we were. For comparison this was during lunchtime, there were also probably about a dozen people up at Observation point during this time.
Day 4: Bison, Bison everywhere
Another day, another hike. Today was off to the south rim of the canyon and Uncle Tom's Trail. Uncle Tom's trail is down a set of about 350 stairs, quite the harrowing walk but the view is worth it. There were more people hiking along the south rim than at mammoth. The views of the falls and the canyon were worth sharing.
As we finished the hike and started walking back towards the car we noticed a little traffic jam and thought it was just people that were heading to artists point. Imagine our surprise when we walk up to the bridge and see this.
This wasn't the last bison we would see today. After canyon we headed down to Yellowstone Lake to rest and have dinner. There were a bunch of bison sleeping at the side of the road. They were causing traffic to slow down but they weren't moving around much. After dinner it was a different story. We saw them across the street and headed a little closer to get some pictures. Shortly after we started taking photos they began moving across the road into the hotel's parking lot and approaching the front door of the hotel. Three park rangers fly into the parking lot trying to move the bison in a different direction as it wasn't the safest environment. The bison did cooperate and move on and we were able to hit the road.
Surprisingly the hike and the bison weren't quite the top highlight of the day. We started the drive back to the inn in time to see the sunset as we drove. We found a spot to pull off the road and take some photos.