June 8, 2018: Yellowstone National Park, Day Two

Having had an amazing and jam-packed day previously, Danielle, Dirk, Shera, and I woke on June 8th in Madison Campground, Yellowstone National Park with a bit of a debate: shall we once again wait in line to see if we can secure another night in the campground, or shall we leave the park and head elsewhere? Collectively we decided that although we could spend probably a week exploring the park, we had such a great time yesterday seeing so much, perhaps we should head elsewhere; perhaps somewhere with less crowds. That said, we weren’t sure where our next destination should be, so we decided we would have a slow-ish morning around Madison and then head towards the park’s northern terminus, stopping first at Mammoth Hotsprings and the Albright Visitor’s Centre.

After enjoying breakfast and a stroll beside the Madison River, we packed up and headed north. We arrived at Mammoth Hotsprings after a quick drive, and found it as to be expected, very busy. Regardless of the crowds, we walked the boardwalk under the intense heat, and admired the strange and otherworldly geothermal features. We didn’t spend too much time among the crowds, but I was fairly satisfied with the photos I took, as I’m not terrifically confident under midday lighting conditions as they were.

The Albright Visitor’s Centre is a couple minute, if that, drive from where we were parked at the Hotsprings, and there we spent quite a bit of time copping the wifi and doing some research into what our next move should be. Once again we attempted to research some human-friendly, soakable hotsprings, but unfortunately the only ones close by were resort/pool style, and not wild. Eventually we decided that we would head towards Glacier National Park, and after eating our lunch on some grass outside the Visitor’s Centre, we did just that.

Other than we knew we wanted to head towards Glacier, we weren’t exactly sure where we’d spend the night, but we decided to let the road decide and we, as per tradition, opted for secondary highways on our way up. As we drove through Montana and it approached mid-afternoon, we took a detour in search of somewhere to make a coffee. Deking off the highway we drove a few minutes down a forest road until finding a tranquil spot along a river, where we stretched out legs and enjoyed each other’s company as well as snacks and coffee. Soon after, we hopped back in the Ac’ and continued driving until reaching Great Falls, MT.

In Great Falls, we drove around noting just how many small casinos filled the streets. Other than the plethora of casinos, the main drag of the town was unassuming and unimpressive. We shopped around a little bit for a decent hotel, until Dirk suggested we try the La Quinta, which from the map, appeared to be on the shore of the Missouri RIver, and was comparably priced. Arriving at the La Quinta [just want to point out how saying “the La Quinta” is literally saying “the The Quinta”], we found its location to be far better than other places we’d looked at. Being away from the main drag of town, right on the river, with an included free breakfast and a pool, we couldn’t say no (I promise this isn’t an ad for them). We unloaded the car, showered, and charged our devices, while researching where we should go for dinner.

After freshening up and doing some research, we decided on trying the Celtic Cowboy Pub and Restaurant. We thought that the juxtaposition between Irish Culture and Cowboy culture was ridiculous, and seeing that it had decent reviews, we headed out to take a stroll to the joint, as it was within easy walking distance. As we walked, we found that although the main drag of Great Falls was absolutely nothing to write home about, the calmer downtown was surprisingly nice, with a pleasant riverside atmosphere, industrial-modern architecture, and friendly people.

The bar itself was okay. I had a bison burger, and we all tried some local beers. The waitress was very nice, but the food was, well, not the best. That said, we all enjoyed ourselves and then had a nice walk back along the river to the hotel. At the hotel we got changed into our bathing suits and had a nice soak in the pool before heading to sleep.

People in this blog: Danielle’s Instagram.

The geothermal features of Mammoth Hotsprings.

This lady was up at an observation point painting as many a tourist questioned her. She said she was an artist-in-residence at the park; cool, but has to be irritating.

Our coffee pit stop off the beaten path.