Planning out your visits to majestic National Parks like Yellowstone and Grand Teton help ensure you get a chance to see the highlights of the parks and make the best use of the limited amount of time you have. That being said, always be prepared to be spontaneous and follow your gut when it calls to you. Like we’ve said on these posts, “living in the moment”.
That’s what happened to me on Day 3. We were really excited driving into the park that morning. Today was the day we were headed to Yellowstone Falls and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. A full day exploring two of Yellowstone’s most iconic features was ahead of us and the smiles on our faces were so big my cheeks were hurting. We turned and headed south on the Grand Loop Road and headed toward Dunraven Pass and Canyon Village Visitor Center. On the way up toward the pass, I saw the sign, Mt Washburn. “I want to go there” I said. Frank said “I do too; I wish we had time.” I said ” no I want to go there.” “Now?!” he said. “I really want to go there” I said. His response was “let’s go.”
When we got to the turn off, we headed up the unpaved road toward the parking area. Our plans for the day hadn’t been changed, just expanded. We would be getting back to the B&B later that evening with less rest, but it meant more exploring. That’s what vacations are for.
Mount Washburn is located in the north central part of Yellowstone National Park with a peak elevation of 10,243 feet (3,107 m). The photo at the top of the page was standing at the top of the Chittenden Road parking area (8,752 feet) where you have close to a full 360 degree panoramic view. You can see 20-50 miles (32-80 km) from where you stand overlooking the peaks and valleys of Yellowstone. From the parking area, you can hike or mountain bike the north trail to the summit.
The wind was howling, 25 mph sustained with gusts approaching 50. There’s some tree cover from the parking area up toward the peek but not a great amount. So unless you were under a ridge line or behind some structure, you were in the wind. I looked down at my phone and noticed I had the best cell signal I’d had since we’d gotten to Wyoming. “I’ve got to call the kids” I told Frank as he turned to me and said, “I’m going to take a hike. I won’t go all the way to the summit but I’ll do a half hour up and a half hour back”.
That was a great compromise. He got a chance to stretch his legs and get some solitude time in a pristine mountain setting. I got a chance to facetime my kids and show them a place that felt a little bit like sitting on top of the world or at least the top of Yellowstone. I wish I’d taken more pictures and the video Frank shot from the ridgeline was shaky and noisy from the wind, so we chose to not post it.
We really enjoyed our short detour to Mt Washburn and want to return. On our next trip to Yellowstone, we will plan to hike the south trail up to the summit. The south trail is a little longer with more tree cover and about the same elevation gain. In other words, another brand new experience awaits us next time.
As we drove down the winding dirt road from the parking lot, we were both elated that we had added to our day 3 agenda. Now it was on to the two places we had literally dreamed about months earlier while planning the trip, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Yellowstone Falls. See you there!
Living in the Moment is what we do while enjoying our time in nature. If you missed any of the other Living in the Moment Series, you can click on them here. Just After Take Off, Day 1, Day 2 Mammoth Hot Spring, Day 2 Traffic Jam, Day 2 Undine Falls and Lava Creek, Lamar Valley – Slough Creek, Day 2 Trout Lake, Lunch at Otter Creek