After traveling through a lot of two lane roadway (not always evenly paved) at Yellowstone Park and encountering traffic (a few crazy people getting out their cars and getting dangerously close to some bison to take pictures), we arrived at the Old Faithful Inn in the Upper Geyser Basin.
The main building of the Old Faithful Inn was designed by Robert Reamer and built first during 1903 to 1904. It was to replace the Upper Geyser Basin Hotel which had burned down.
Much of the initial building was done during the winter and was opened to the public in the spring of 1904. The east wing was created in 1913 to 1914 and the west wing was finished in 1928. Back in the day, this place was state of the art with electric lights and steamed heat.
Firefighters spraying water on Old Faithful Inn image taken by Jeff Henry, 1988
Lex remembers coming here with his family during the Great North Fork Fire in 1988. The whole park was in smoke and the orange flames were bright. The Old Faithful Inn was in serious threat of being burned, but it was saved by a wonderful group of firefighters, volunteers, and it didn’t hurt that a new sprinkler system was just installed on the roof the previous year.
A kindly old gentleman held the big red door open for me.
When I first walked into the lobby, I just stood there and was mesmerized by its beauty. I looked all around me. This place was awesome! The beautiful natural wood and stone were used impressively in every bit of the building.
The fireplace was majestic and the clock was tall! There were little remnants of the past here and there with the old heating radiator, notched wood on the construction of the walls and stairs, and the metal work on the fireplace grating.
There was a fine dining room but we had already bought roast beef sandwiches for lunch from the Gardiner Market before going into the park. The food smelled good though. The gift shop was quaint and charming. It had a good mix of touristy souvenirs and artistic craft items for sale. We bought a Christmas ornament for our tree.
There was a sign on the wall telling when the Old Faithful Geyser would erupt (give or take about 10 minutes). Holy Cow! We had to hurry; it was going to happen soon.
Lex and I raced to the geyser and as soon as we sat down, it started. You could see the water begin to churn and steam up from the ground. Then it starts to blow up, up, up so high! 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of boiling water can erupt to a height of 106 to 185 feet lasting from 1.5 to 5 minutes. What the hell? It was pretty impressive!
After that show, we decided to visit the Upper Geyser Basin.
Driving into Yellowstone, Wyoming from Gardiner, Montana just before 8am, we had a clear game plan in mind: make a beeline to Old Faithful Inn, check out every in and around that historic site, then backtrack along the same road to see the sights we rushed past earlier! Mostly things went according to plan, though about 15 minutes into our drive, we had to stop for a whole group of photographers crowding the road with their huge cameras adorned with telephoto lenses pointing off into the wilderness. When we started to drive by, we looked out into a clearing in the wilderness to see what they were so excited about: a big mama bear (Neek and I still debate whether it was a black bear or a grizzly bear) and her two cubs. We only saw them walking for about three seconds before they vanished into the forest, so we were unable to capture them on video. But just seeing them for those few seconds is a memory we’ll always treasure!
The delay didn’t slow us down too much; we arrived at Old Faithful Inn at 8:45am. It sure was gratifying to see it – the last time I saw it was in 1988, right before the North Fork fire came right up to its doorstep! Fortunately it was spared then and all my wonderful childhood memories came flooding back the moment I walked through the big front door kindly held open by an elderly gentleman greeter. The log design of the Inn is just spectacular to behold and the warmth and smell of the huge stone fireplace is so inviting! We had fun looking around the gift shop, but I only browsed before leaving as soon as I realized the Old Faithful geyser was predicted to blow within the next five minutes.
Heading over to the Old Faithful geyser, I realized there was an unforeseen benefit to heading there first thing in the morning: there were very few people waiting for the eruption. My memory of seeing the Old Faithful geyser in 1988 was of having to peer around huge crowds of people from the back of a series of benches just to see the top half of the blowing geyser. This time, the same benches were there, but the people gathered around were so sparse that it was easy to find a front bench with an unimpeded view. The sheer power of thousands of gallons of steaming hot water bursting over 100 feet into the air from a tiny hole in the ground is a spectacle you simply must include on your bucket list as a sight to witness in person.
I hope you all enjoy watching this eruption as much as we enjoyed filming it!