Hiking and backpacking getaway

Looking down at the Yellowstone River from Hellroaring Trail.

It's become a tradition for Heather and I to take a summer trip to Yellowstone. Last year it was backpacking in the Bechler region, the year before we rented a cabin at Roosevelt. This year we did a little of both--cabin renting and backpacking.

There are a whole bunch of pictures from this trip posted over at Flickr. Don't look at them if you don't like moose, rivers, high lakes, granite, or wildflowers. Seriously, don't look.

Heather and I always have a great time together. We catch up, cover a lot of miles, and visit beautiful places. It's a much appreciated vacation with a dear friend.

We spent two nights at the Roosevelt cabins (best deal in the park) and two nights backpacking in the Beartooth Range. We hiked to a beautiful creek, climbed a ridge to find petrified trees, ate a trout breakfast at the Log Cabin Cafe, and spent two and a half days wandering around the high lakes area in the Beartooths.

Hike on over to Flickr to see all the fun.

Heather at Hellroaring Creek.
Moose and fireweed.
Big bison
Heather is amazed by the petrified tree.
We started our hike at Island Lake.
Our campsite at Becker Lake.
Becker Lake
Lonesome Peak above one of the many lakes we hiked to.
Paintbrush at Lonesome Lake
At the end of the hike. And strangely orange.

Hiking the Hoodoos Trail in Yellowstone

For our official start of hiking season, we chose the Hoodoo Trail in Yellowstone. The boys and I hiked it one other time, but they were too young to remember.

We don't get far before stopping to look at flowers.
Buttercup--worth stopping for.
Up close with Anders.
Checking out the route.

I like this trail for kids because it's short, sparsely traveled even though it is right near super-popular Mammoth, mostly downhill. There are lots of fun rocks, the so called "hoodoos," to climb on.

As is our way, we stopped 900 times for snacks and Finn was exhausted (his words) three minutes into the hike. Fortunately, he rallied and walked all but two minutes of the trail by himself. It may have been due to the promise of ice cream. Whatever works....

Finn can't walk without holding someone's hand.
The second of many snack breaks.
Playing the sticks to the wilderness.

These rocks aren't what I think of as "hoodoos." Rather than pinnacles of weathered sandstone, they are travertine stacks from Terrace Mountain. Travertine is formed when hydrothermal water brings dissolved calcium carbonate to the earth’s surface, where it releases carbon dioxide and creates the white rock.The terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs are made out of the same rock, but the hot springs are still active there and growing the terraces. The hoodoos are old travertine formations left over from when this was once a thermally active area that fell into a jumble in a landslide.

To learn more about the geologic history of the hoodoos, watch this minute-and-a-half video.

Anders named this "Rock City."
He has to climb on everything. He just has to.
Not to be outdone, Finn does a little climbing, too.
Arrowleaf balsamroot--a sure sign that summer will eventually get here.
We are so happy!
Aspens leafing out.
Finn!

The trail ends at the Upper Terraces, and we walked out the Upper Terrace Road to the main road, where I hitchhiked back to our car.

There is a loop option for folks who don't want to hitchhike, or are looking for a longer walk. Start at the same trailhead, but instead of veering right at the Hoodoo junction, continue on ahead. After 2.3 miles, the route turns east at a 3-way junction and climbs to the top of Snow Pass, a narrow saddle pinched between Terrace Mountain and Clagett Butte. After cresting the pass, the trail drops into an unnamed creek valley above Pinyon Terrace, then rounds to the south along Terrace Mountain's eastern edge. Catch the hoodoo trail and continue on in the opposite direction we walked it. The loop is 7 miles.

Entering the thermal basin.
Larkspur in abundance.
Upper Terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs.

It was kind of interesting that all the Americans sped right past me. It wasn't until some Eastern Europeans came by that I got a ride. They didn't even speak much English, and they were willing to take me back up the hill.

You'd pick me up, wouldn't you?

Plan Your Own Trip

What: Hoodoo Basin Trail in Yellowstone National Park (3 miles one-way) Why: Easy hike, hoodoos to climb on, interesting geology, views of Bunsen Peak, pretty meadows, hot springs (at the end). Where: Drive 4.8 miles south of Mammoth on the Mammoth-Norris road. Park on the right (east) side of the road in the Bunsen Peak parking area. Cross the road to the Glen Creek Trailhead and follow to the signed Hoodoo junction. Go right. Who: Families, kids, anyone looking for a short, interesting walk.

Yellowstone Campground Review

Need help planning your Yellowstone vacation? I offer Trip Reports, Vacation Coaching, and Itineraries/Guidebooks on my other site: YellowstoneTrips.com.

This is part of a multi-blog series of campground reviews. You can click through others at the bottom of this post. Yellowstone National Park has twelve campgrounds for car camping. I’m going to review a few of them, but all of the campgrounds are listed below and if you follow the link you’ll get to a page that allows you to look at photos and get more information on each one.

Overnight camping of any type (tent, vehicle, or RV) outside designated campgrounds is not allowed. You can get a permit to use backcountry campsites, but you need to backpack in to those.

Mammoth

The upside of the Mammoth Campground is that it is the only campground in the park open all year. Located near the north entrance of the park, it has easy access to the Boiling River and all the amenities in Mammoth and Gardiner.

The downside is that it is in the bend of a road, so it’s noisy as cars drive by all day (and night). The campground is in a sagebrush steppe, so it’s pretty open and you’ll have good views of your neighbor. If it was up to me, I’d camp just outside the park at the Forest Service’s Eagle Creek Campground.

Mammoth has 85 sites and most are pull-throughs. It’s first come, first serve—no reservations. The campground may be filled by 11 am, so arrive early to obtain a site. Campsite occupancy is limed to six people per site. You can stay for up to 14 days from July 1 through Labor Day, and 30 days the rest of the year.

Indian Creek

This is a nice alternative to the Mammoth Campground since it is quieter and more secluded. It’s just 10-15 minutes (driving) from Mammoth. Indian Creek runs alongside the campground and is great for wading in and looking for macroinvertebrates. The Big Horn trail leaves from the campground, and is an easy walk—depending on how far you go. I like this campground because you could spend a whole day here without ever getting in your car.

If you do want to drive, the Bunsen Peak and Hoodoos Trails start just a few minutes away.

Indian Creek Campground has 75 sites and 45 of them are pull-thoughs. Expect vault toilets. It’s first come, first serve—no reservations. The campground may be filled by 11 am, so arrive early to obtain a site. Campsite occupancy is limed to six people per site. You can stay for up to 14 days from July 1 through Labor Day, and 30 days the rest of the year.

I love this NPS photo from the 70s (?) of the Indian Creek campground so much.

Canyon

This campground is huge, but it has always been surprisingly mellow when we’ve stayed there. The individual sites are pretty tiny.

The campground is located near the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, on a hill across the street from the Canyon stores, visitor center, and lodge. It's nice to have easy access to the Canyon and the Upper and Lower Falls early in the morning or later in the evening when the crowds have dissipated.

Xanterra Parks & Resorts operates Canyon Campground and reservations can be made through their website. Same-day reservations can be made by calling 307.344.7902. Future reservations can be made by calling 307.344.7311 or 1.866.GEYSERLAND. There are 273 sites spread out over several big loops. There are pay showers and laundry on site. Campsite occupancy is limed to six people per site. You can stay for up to 14 days from July 1 through Labor Day, and 30 days the rest of the year.

Breakfast at Canyon Campground.

Grant Campground

Grant is a ridiculously large campground, but you can get quieter sites. Plus, it’s Yellowstone and more than three million people come through each year. The only way to avoid crowds is to get into the backcountry.

Grant Campground is located near Yellowstone Lake, as well as restaurants, shops, and Lake Lodge. It’s a good place to stay for trips to Heart Lake, West Thumb, and even the Old Faithful area.

Xanterra Parks & Resorts operates Grant Campground and reservations can be made through their website. Same-day reservations can be made by calling 307.344.7902. Future reservations can be made by calling 307.344.7311 or 1.866.GEYSERLAND. There are 430 sites. There are pay showers and laundry on site, but two showers/night are included with your campsite. Campsite occupancy is limed to six people per site. You can stay for up to 14 days from July 1 through Labor Day, and 30 days the rest of the year.

Four random 80s kids at Grant Campground. NPS photo.

More campgrounds

As promised, here are the rest of the campgrounds in Yellowstone. For more details and photos, go to the webpage.

While You Are in Yellowstone

Yellowstone hikes for kids and families Beaver Pond Loop (Mammoth) Boiling River and Lone Star Geyser (Mammoth and Old Faithful) Trout Lake (Lamar Valley) Lost Lake (Tower/Roosevelt) The Hoodoos (Mammoth)

More Campground Reviews

Make sure you check out these other campground reviews and find the perfect spot for your next camping trip.

Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies -The Best Provincial Park Campgrounds in Southern Alberta AKontheGO -Alaskans Share Their Favorite Campgrounds Kid Project -Sandflats Recreational Area, Moab, UT Brave Ski Mom -Best Campgrounds in North America: Western Colorado Edition Climb Run Lift Mom -Camping at the City of Rocks The Campsite -Top 5 Backcountry Campgrounds in Banff National Park TravelingMel -Yellowstone National Park Campground Review Adventure Parents -Classic Campsites: Murphy Hogback Campground, Canyonlands National Park Mommy Hiker -West Coast Campground Review - Sweet Summer Spots to Relax & Recharge! OurBoler - The Best of West Coast Camping The Kid Project - Camping and Climbing in Maple Canyon Outsidemom - Our favorite campgrounds in the Western US Active Kids Club - Camping in Ontario Walk Simply - San Elijo State Beach Camping for Urban Nature Fun

Need help planning your Yellowstone vacation? I offer Trip Reports, Vacation Coaching, and Itineraries/Guidebooks on my other site: YellowstoneTrips.com.

Live from the Mammoth Terraces

Right now I am in Peru on my birthday trip, starting an eight day trek through the Andes. I went ahead and posted this ahead of time so you wouldn't miss me.

Part of our Yellowstone FTF fun included a little walk around the Mammoth Terraces. There wasn't anyone else on the boardwalk while we were there, which goes to show that the off-season is a whole different world.

Happy to be at the Terraces.
We think it's pretty.

I'll let the boys tell you about it. [video:youtube:hox3uydYX9o]

Anders peers over the edge of the boardwalk to check out the bacterial mats.

Wait- Anders has more to say. Please excuse the stuttering and crotch grabbing.

[video:youtube:A1B-QO_UxMs]

And remember, stay on the boardwalk!

Field Trip Friday: Yellowstone

Right now I am in Peru on my birthday trip, enroute from Lima to Cusco. I went ahead and posted this ahead of time so you wouldn't miss me.

We love Yellowstone, and whenever I can get down there, I do. It can be tough with kids, but it usually ends up being worth the effort.

We started out with lunch at the Lava Creek picnic area. It was a bit snowy, but no one seemed to mind.

Picnicking in the snow.

What they did seem to mind, what Finn seemed to mind, was hiking. We started on the Lava Creek Canyon Trail with a lot of whining and claims of severe hunger. It had been three minutes since lunch, after all.

This 3.5-mile trail can be hiked one way if you arrange a car shuttle ahead of time and it’s mostly downhill. Or hike out as far as you like and turn around, which is what we did.

Starting off pretty well...
The brothers Smiley and Pouty.

The trail follows Lava Creek downstream to 60-foot Undine Falls at 0.3 miles. Finn could go no further, so we took some happy pictures, had a snack, and enjoyed the waterfall. Undine Falls gets its name from mythological creatures that were extraordinarily wise, usually female, and thought to live around waterfalls. An undine could acquire a mortal man, marry him, and have his children.

Undine Falls

We walked back to the picnic area and the boys played in the frigid water for a while before driving a little further down the road to the Wraith Falls Trail.

Barefoot in melting snow and 40 F temps.

This was a much better hike, attitude-wise. It's just 0.5 miles to the falls (more of a cascade) and has a few interesting things along the way, such as a boardwalk, bridge, and upturned trees. Kids like that kind of stuff.

We think bison might also be using this boardwalk on the way to Wraith Falls.
Fallen lodgepole.
Wraith Falls
Happy hikers.

Finn was on fire after our two mini-hikes and wanted to check out the Mammoth Terraces. We drove to the top and since the Terrace Loop Road is still closed, we walked out to them. More about that next time.

I promise I'll love him even if he isn't a hiker. Probably.

Plan Your Own Trip

What: Hiking easy, kid-friendly trails in Yellowstone Why: It's our first National Park, it's pretty, there are cool animals, and kids (and adults) need lots of time outside. Where: Yellowstone National Park. From Mammoth, drive 4.4 miles east to the Lava Creek Picnic Area on the right (south). The Lava Creek Canyon Trail is across the road, over the bridge. Wraith Falls trailhead is 0.4 miles east on the right (south).

The Park Service has a handy brochure of hikes around Mammoth.

My go-to, favorite hiking book for Yellowstone is Bill Schneider's Hiking Yellowstone National Park.

Related Posts

Christmas at Mammoth, 2011 FTF: Self-Guided Trail, Mammoth Terraces Five Yellowstone Hikes for Kids & Families Beaver Pond Loop The Hoodoos Skiing the Snow Pass and Bunsen Peak Trails Skiing and Hot Tubbing in Mammoth 10 Hot Spring in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho Pronghorn Trail (Mt. Everts) Rescue Creek

Field Trip Friday: West Yellowstone

Normally, Field Trip Friday is all about the boys. But, a couple weeks ago Henry and I took a field trip sans kids. We dropped the boys in Ennis with Mogie and Big Henry and headed east to West Yellowstone, Montana. Henry wanted to get some footage of cross-country skiing and I was happy to be the "talent." Plus, almost two full days alone with my husband was quite a treat.

We skied a couple trails, went out to dinner, and took advantage of our hotel's hot tub. And we slept in a little -- no kids or meowing cat to wake us up.

Henry skis at Refuge Point.
Love seeing this ski guy.
There was a lot of taking the camera in and out of the backpack on this trip.
The Riverside Ski Trail starts in West Yellowstone and loops through Yellowstone National Park.
Snowy ski trail along the Madison River.
My dream is to stay here some time, or at least get the t-shirt.

I think we need more weekends away, even if they are work weekends.

Old Faithful fun

We were so lucky to spend a couple nights at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge in the three days preceding Christmas Eve. I have a couple stories to write and needed to do some "research." The concessionaire that runs the hotels and transportation in Yellowstone invited us down to explore.

The roads to Old Faithful are only accessible by over-snow vehicles in the winter, so we hopped into a snowcoach for the trip. I've been to the Snow Lodge three times before, but always while guiding trips, so this was real treat for me.

Old Faithful is chaotic and crazy in the summer, but with a covering of snow, it slows way down. The boys and I watched Old Faithful erupt with just five other people while Henry skied around the geyser basin. I skied alone for almost five hours without seeing anyone, though I did come upon hot springs, bison, ghost trees, and an erupting Lone Star Geyser. It sounds cliche, but Yellowstone in winter is a magical place. We all wished we could have stayed longer.

Here are a few photos I took with my phone. I'll have more when I get around to the ones I took with the "good" camera (Oh no! More photos?). And Henry took some really lovely photos that I'll link to once he puts them somewhere.

Bison bison
Ghost trees at Meryl Springs
Watching Old Faithful
Anders sketches in the Snow Lodge lobby.
Henry and Finn confer on a story.
Skiing Spring Creek...alone.
Spring Creek
Bridge over the Firehole River.
Lone Star Geyser
Snow crystals along the outlet of Lone Star Geyser.
A bit of green in a thermally heated area.
Old Faithful from the Howard Eaton Trail.
Finn skis alongside the geyser basin. He doesn't go far, but he sure has fun.
Taking a sledding break.
Anders and I walking around Geyser Hill.
Beehive Geyser erupts in the background.
Hot cocoa after skiing.
Fountain Paint Pots

Want more?

Here's the piece I wrote for Outside Bozeman with info on planning your own trip.

{Yellowstone} Bunsen Peak hike

A couple weeks ago, we went for a lovely hike up Bunsen Peak in Yellowstone National Park. We intended to go over a year ago, but snow on the peak detoured us to the Beaver Pond Loop Trail--also a great hike.

We were glad to make it back to Bunsen. The peak is named after the guy who invented the Bunsen burner. Remember those from high school lab classes?

It's a 2.4 mile ascent to the top, so Bunsen Peak is accessible for almost everyone. It is steep (1300-feet or so), but if the four of us can make it, anyone can. And Henry and I carried Finn on our backs for half the way up.

These boys are not messing around.
We made it to the first bend.
Sometimes I can't believe how cute this kid is.
This one, too.
Swan Lake Flats
Hoodoos and Mt Everts.
Synchronized sandwich eating.
Henry in the mist.
Climbing, climbing, climbing.
He simply cannot walk any further.
At the top!

{Yellowstone} Unlce Tom's Trail, Artist Point

Our second day in Yellowstone was short since we had to be back in Livingston for the boys' art camp. We made the most of it with an early walk down Uncle Tom's Trail. It's more than three hundred stairs after a bit of a hike. At the end you get a nice view of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone.

Breakfast in the Canyon campground.
Anders descending Uncle Tom's Trail.
Lower Falls from the bottom of Uncle Tom's Trail.
Heading back up and for a meltdown. Not far from here Anders started yelling, "Your the worst mom ever," and then he totally lost it. In my defense, he's not in the Yellowstone River, thus disproving his claim.

After that fun hike we got our acts together and drove down to Artist's Point. We wanted to see a ranger program. The boys are working on their Junior Ranger badge and we needed to attend a program. Then we went home. The end.

Fully recovered and enjoying Artist's Point.

{Yellowstone} Storm Point, Canyon and online friends

The second half of summer has been somewhat Yellowstone-centric for us. I usually avoid the park at its busiest time of year, but we've had several great reasons to visit this summer. And it's been really fun every time. We gawked at Old Faithful with the Kei family, I backpacked through the Bechler with Heather, and then we met Michele and her family at Lake.

Michele and I "met" online. It wasn't quite a dating service, but through a group of outdoor/kids-and-nature/play-outdoors group of folks. She blogs at Fun Orange County Parks Playbook. If you are ever in the O.C., that's the place to find all the fun places to play. This was our second get together, she (and another blogging friend) showed us around the South Coast Botanical Gardens a year and a half ago. I got to return the favor by showing her and her family around a little part of Yellowstone.

Michele called me when she, her husband and kids, her parents, and her sister's family were planning their tour of Wonderland. I gave her a few tidbits of information and invited myself down. Let that be a warning--if you tell me you are in the area, I will probably show up in the middle of your family vacation.

We went for a little hike on the Storm Point Trail.
Anders at Yellowstone Lake-- the largest alpine (above 7,000 feet) lake in the continental U.S.
Finn, with stick, at Lake.
The kids got in the lake even though the water is snow-melt-cold and it wasn't that warm outside. (photo by Michele)
You can almost believe that you're at the ocean. That's what ex-Californians living in Montana do.
Me and Michele IRL
Hanging out with the buddies at Storm Point.
Back on the trail.
As the "expert" on this hike, they'd ask me questions like, "what's making that noise?" "A marmot," I said. A tree dwelling marmot, apparently. (photo by Michele)
Finn and I cross the meadow. (photo by Michele)

After our hike we said our goodbyes, a little envious that they had three more nights in the park before driving to Grand Teton. I did however, make a reservation for us at the Canyon campground, so we had plenty of time to explore. Our first stop was LeHardy Rapids. Geomorphologically, this is where Yellowstone Lake ends and the Yellowstone River begins. Or is the other way around?

According to the Park Service:

"The rapids were named for Paul LeHardy, a civilian topographer with the Jones Expedition in 1873. Jones and a partner started off on a raft with the intent of surveying the river, planning to meet the rest of their party at the Lower Falls. Upon hitting the rapids, the raft capsized, and many of the supplies were lost, including guns, bedding, and food. LeHardy and his partner saved what they could and continued their journey to the falls on foot." Whoops.

LeHardy Rapids. I have to remember to come back when the cutthroat are spawning. Apparently, they fill the rapids with their undulating bodies.
Up close and personal

Our next stop was the Mud Volcano area. Finn must have been drinking a lot of water because we made two trips to the outhouse and one illegal dash off the boardwalk and into the trees. I love hiking because it's so easy to send the boys into the woods, but when you are in a crowded hot spring area it's not so easy. Aren't you glad I shared that fascinating story? You get the whole truth here at TravelingMel.

The National Park Service says this about Mud Volcano:

When the Washburn Expedition explored the area in 1870, Nathaniel Langford described Mud Volcano as "greatest marvel we have yet met with." Although the Mud Volcano can no longer be heard from a mile away nor does it throw mud from its massive crater, the area is still eerily intriguing.

Eerily intriguing, indeed.

Learning about hot springs at the Volcano area.
The Dragon's Mouth. Can you hear it roaring? We did.

We drove on to the campground, set up our tent, ate dinner and headed out again for an evening walk. Fortunately, we weren't too far from the Brink of the Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Upper Yellowstone Falls from the South Rim.
Marmot
The brink of Lower Falls
Downstream from Lower Falls

Then it was off to bed for us. There was more to explore the following morning.

I'm getting way too much spam on this post, so the comments are now closed :(

Backpacking in the Bechler (part 2)

The first two days of our backpacking trip were amazing, but day three even topped that.

It's been a long time since I've been backpacking and this trip only whetted my appetite for more. I love being on the trail, carrying everything I need, having no distractions and getting to soak in the natural world.

That third morning we got up at 6 a.m., skipped breakfast, and headed right to Mr. Bubbles--a backcountry hot spring a couple miles from our campsite.

Twister Falls
About halfway...
Heading into the thermal basin.
Some little terraces that wowed us.
A hot river flowing into Mr. Bubbles.
Heather checks out the famous Mr. Bubbles. Toasty warm in most places, and refreshing in others,
I'm enjoying my soak. We were there for a couple hours and saw no one except a ranger.
Our post-soak breakfast spot.
One of 6-10 trees near the hot springs that had been stripped by a grizzly.
White hare bells. Have you ever seen them? I don't think I have.
More hot springs...
Another cascade
Monkshood
Heather on the trail.
Can you find the Patrol Cabin? I want to be a backcountry ranger stationed here.
Heather is butt-deep in the Bechler River. We forded the Bechler three times.
That's why they call it Cascade Corner.
Colonnade Falls
Smoke from wildfires in the park made the views soft and surreal.
Heather packing up at our third campsite.
Scanning the meadow for wildlife. Note the bugnet, the mosquitoes were gnarly.
Now I am butt deep in the Bechler River...
...with full headgear.
Sandhill cranes
The Bechler Meadows were so expansive. This was a really dry year, but we could imagine this place in a normal year. It must be so pretty...and buggy.
At the end of the trail.
Heather's friend, Franz, hiked in the last day and then drove us back up to the Lone Star Geyser trailhead, saving us a long shuttle. And he brought me a beer. That's a good friend.
Cheers!

Backpacking in the Bechler

A couple weeks ago my friend Heather and I spent four days hiking through the Bechler Region in Yellowstone. It's in the southwest part of the park and also known as Cascade Corner. Four days, 30 miles, countless waterfalls, one set of grizzly tracks, wildlfowers and berries, backcountry hot springs...it was amazing. Since I took a zillion pictures I'll let them tell the story.

Fresh faced, bushy tailed and ready to hike.
The first 2.5 miles of trail are an old road along the Firehole River that leads to Lone Star Geyser.
Lone Star Geyser
The greeter at our first campsite.
paintbrush
Hanging our food high to keep it from bears.
Hot spring basin just yards from our campsite.
hot spring-- we were constantly amazed at how cool it was at seeing all this in the backcountry, with so few other people around.
Grizzly tracks on the trail. We followed them for two or three miles. Didn't see the bear, though.
Backcountry boardwalk.
Elephant head. I so love this flower.
One of many waterfalls. This one is was just upstream from our second campsite.
Hanging around our second campsite. No fires allowed since the fire danger is so high this summer.

See the rest of the trip here.

Kei invasion

Friends reunited

At the end of July, we were up near White Sulphur Springs dancing our pants off to the likes of Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Billy Joe Shaver, Taj Mahal, and others, when I saw on Facebook that my good friend Noelle and her family were coming to Montana. Possibly. Or maybe they'd go to Hawaii. Then my phone died for the rest of the weekend.

As were heading home--dusty, slightly dehydrated, and hearts full of song--we found out that the Kei family was indeed coming to Montana and would be staying just 15 minutes from our house.

Noelle is a flight attendant (on furlough) and can get free or discounted tickets for the whole family. The only catch is that they fly standby, so they wait until the last minute, see which flights have the most open seats, and then make a run for the airport. You never know when they might show up.

The morning after returning from the music festival, the boys and I drove down to Pine Creek to show the Keis --Noelle and Albert, Savannah (18) Mia (9), Lilly (6), Henry (4) and Oliver (2)--our little slice of Montana. I'm probably off a little on those ages.

We started with a hike to Pine Creek Falls.

Headed up the trail.
Anders and Finn show the Kei kids Slide Rock.
Albert, the smart one, hangs out on the bridge while the rest of us wade in snowmelt-cold water.
We made them pose all over the place for pictures.
The cute couple
Where is the waterfall?
So serious.
It's like seventh grade all over again. Only less awkward.
Noelle had seen photos of our famous driveway bbqs and was psyched to get to attend one.

The next morning we were all rearing to go again. I normally try to avoid Old Faithful in the summer, but when you have friends in town who have never been to Yellowstone and may not be back for awhile, you better go to Old Faithful. And it turned out to be fun.

Geyser gazing
Checking out the new visitor center at Old Faithful. Very cool.
Hot springs and cute boys.
One last geyser photo before we leave.

Then they were gone...we hope they come back sometime.