By Janet White
Staying at the Old Faithful Inn, even if just for a night, can yield memories that last a lifetime. While each of the lodging choices offered inside Yellowstone National Park have their advantages, there’s something magical about the Old Faithful Inn. On our last trip to Yellowstone in early summer 2012, I took some notes and photos to add to my Yellowstone album. Here are my photos and recollections of the trip:
A chance to be sociable
It was a good day in the Upper Geyser Basin. Not only did we get to see quite a few geysers erupt (Grand, Aurum, Beehive, Plume and Lion were the main ones), I realized that a large part of what my husband and I enjoy about Yellowstone is the ability to just be sociable. While waiting for the geysers, it seems we always meet and chat with such interesting people. Today, we spent time talking with a lady who had lost her job and was working to sort out what to do next in her life. To do this, she was traveling across country this summer with her daughter. They were only here for one night in the Old Faithful area, and then they’d make their way to family in Washington state. We encouraged them to stay for Grand which they said later on would likely be one of the highlights of the summer for them.
We’re just back from an evening stroll in the Upper Geyser Basin where we once again had the chance to watch an eruption from Lion Geyser. I’m sitting and writing at one of the many desks in the center of the Old Faithful Inn. The history here weighs in the air and I can’t help but wonder who else this desk has served over time. How many letters were written and journals filled on this surface? The soft light illuminating just enough area to work easily in, but not too much to disturb anyone near me. It’s the details like this that fill every corner of this place. Behind me, the piano player has started up where the cello player left off. She’s playing “Edelweiss,” which has many around us smiling and basking in the simple perfection of the moment.
Gathering in open spaces
Blue light from the end of the day shines through the windows near the illuminated “treehouse” at the top if the Inn’s interior.
During the day, it often goes unnoticed, but at night, it becomes a star.
In too many vacation spots, people spend the evenings in their rooms, connected to one kind of box or another.
But at the Old Faithful Inn, with no TVs or WiFi service, the hotel’s open space invites people to fill it. The main crowds from the day are elsewhere, and pretty much just those staying here for the night remain.
And so, we gather.
Recalling the events of the day
Families sit at the tables on the second floor, just inside from the balcony, playing cards or other games. Couples snuggle with hot drinks. Friends and families visit and recall the events of the day, as well as memories from longer past. Others read, write, sketch or just relax and enjoy the moment.
The last of the diners in the Old Faithful Inn’s main dining room are finishing up. I’m still contentedly full from a wonderful dinner of elk medallions. I watch as guests walk up to make dinner reservations for another night. We dine early, not only to give ourselves time to enjoy the long evenings, but also to see the wait staff all lined up and full of smiles. Only the first guests of the evening are treated to this small tradition.
As the evening winds down, people head to their rooms, but almost hesitatingly. It’s like we’re all here for a party and none of us want the day to end. But once in the room, we find ‘baby bear’ mattresses — ones that are just right. They’re not too hard, nor too soft.
We leave the window cracked and listen to the voices of the geysers. Old Faithful has a gentle, sweet sound to the eruption. I often wake to it, smile, and go straight back to sleep. Beehive has a more insistent voice — pounding until I wake and check to make sure that is what I heard. I note the time to share with the geyser gazers in the morning. Soon I’m in a deep sleep that will refresh me for the next day in Wonderland.
Janet White is the creator of GeyserWatch.com.
If you go…
The Old Faithful Inn is open from May to October, with room rates ranging from $100-$500. For reservations, call 866-GEYSERLAND (866-439-7375) or book online at the Yellowstone National Park Lodges website.