Yellowstone National Park
Grand Loop Drive:
Driving Time: 45 minutes
Distance: 21 miles
Exploring the small, concentrated thermal region known as West Thumb Geyser Basin is a delight. Be sure to see the deep blue or, depending on water temperature, emerald-green waters of Abyss Pool, as well as lovely Bluebell Pool. These features are highlighted in the self-guiding trail leaflet available at the trailhead.
If you need more information or would like to purchase educational maps, books, and videos, visit the Yellowstone Association bookstore in the historic West Thumb Information Station, located next to the parking lot to the right (east) of the main highway, about 17 miles south of Old Faithful. In the summer this is also the meeting place for a variety of interpretive walks and talks.
The Grand Loop from West Thumb to Fishing Bridge is your chance to get to know one of the largest-more than 136 square miles, with more than 100 miles of shoreline and most beautiful bodies of water in all the Rockies: Yellowstone Lake. Adding grandeur is the mighty Absaroka Range, scraping the sky far to the east. Yellowstone Lake rests atop the eastern edge of the Yellowstone Caldera, a mammoth depression formed by the collapse of ground after an enormous volcanic eruption some 650,000 years ago. Water eventually filled a portion of the depression, in some places to a depth of more than 300 feet, creating Yellowstone Lake.
Roughly 15 miles north of West Thumb, in the shadows of a beautiful climax forest of spruce and Douglas-fir, Gull Point Drive leaves the Grand Loop to wind along the lake's edge, offering numerous opportunities for picnics and lazy walks along the shore.
Several miles beyond Gull Point Drive is the turnoff to Bridge Bay Marina. Here, there are hour-long scenic boat rides around Stevenson Island, with interpretive guide services available. This is also the place to rent fishing gear, non-motorized boats, and small powerboats with crew and guide.
If you want to try your hand at fishing in Yellowstone, you can pick up the necessary permit, along with catch guidelines, at ranger stations, visitor centers, and general stores throughout the park.
About 18 miles north of West Thumb on the Grand Loop Road, a turnoff to the right leads to Lake Village, where you will find a store, hospital, ranger station, Lake Lodge, and the beautiful Lake Hotel. Even if you are not staying at the hotel, it is definitely worth a closer look. Yellowstone's oldest hotel, Lake Hotel first opened its doors in 1891. The hotel had fallen into a state of disrepair by the 1970s, and in 1981 the National Park Service and park concessionaire TW Services (now Amfac Parks and Resorts) launched a ten-year renovation program to return the hotel to the glamorous look of its glory days of the early 1900s.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication