Arguably the most impressive of our national parks, Yellowstone is vast and majestic, a must-see for all. On my many trips to the park, I have admired countless bears, smiled at the distant moose, and awed at the seemingly endless herds of buffalo all around. An international destination, Yellowstone also employs a wonderfully diverse staff from all over the world.
Another draw, of course, is the multitude of geysers found in the park. I have enjoyed many walks through the geyser basins, and have been lucky enough to catch a couple of rare geyser eruptions.
The Upper Geyser Basin (also known as the Old Faithful area) contains the largest concentration of geysers in the world.[i] True to its name, Old Faithful has yet to disappoint, and I make a point of watching it erupt at least once each time I visit.
When booking a trip to Yellowstone, one must allot at least one night to the Old Faithful Inn. Aside from its convenient location in the midst of the Upper Geyser Basin, the lodge is a destination in its own right.
The lodge faces north, oriented toward the old “circuit road” rather that toward the geyser.[ii] However, a large patio overlooking the front also provides a perfect view of the Old Faithful Geyser. Every visitor must grab a glass of wine (or beer, if that’s your thing), find a seat on one of the rustic wood benches on the patio (which face Old Faithful), and wait for Old Faithful to erupt.
The Old Faithful Inn is the definition of charm. Constructed by the Northern Pacific Railroad from 1903 to 1904, this lodge sits right beside the geyser for which it is named.[iii]
Not your typical log cabin, the lodge is huge – nearly 700 feet in length with a central core seven stories high.[iv] The open, multi-story lobby offers a unique setting in which to congregate with fellow travelers. Modern distractions do not detract from the experience. (Guest rooms do not contain TVs or radios.)
Thus, each night a community emerges in the lobby. As you have a drink after dinner and enjoy the live music, you might see groups playing cards or board games, or simply enjoying a conversation, on every level of the giant open space. The setting is of another time: communal, festive, and sweet.
Yellowstone offers a vast array of sights and activities, and given the size of the park one can never see or do it all. However, if you are a first-time visitor to Yellowstone National Park, the Old Faithful Inn cannot be missed.
[iii] http://npshistory.com/publications/architecture-in-the-parks.pdf. (The east wing of the Inn, containing 100 additional guest rooms, was constructed in 1913-14. See https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/harrison/harrison3.htm.)