Our 2021 Road Trip #27: From Gibbon Falls to Willow Park

Gibbon Falls, Yellowstone!

At a mere 84 feet high, Gibbon Falls isn’t the tallest waterfall we’ve seen, but it’s perfectly pretty as-is.

After we finally parted ways with the Grand Prismatic Spring, our next few hours in Yellowstone were a blur of frequent stops and pervasive wonders. Each point of interest had its highlights, but few of them have enough photos to merit their own individual, full-length galleries. Honestly, after so many hours on the road in those surroundings, I was in danger of scenic overload.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. We were each raised in a household that couldn’t afford annual out-of-state family vacations. We’re geeks more accustomed to vicarious life through the windows of pop culture than through in-person adventures. Eventually we tired of some of our self-imposed limitations and figured out how to leave the comforts of home for the chance to see creative, exciting, breathtaking, outlandish, and/or bewildering new sights in states beyond our own, from the horizons of nature to the limits of imagination, from history’s greatest hits to humanity’s deepest regrets and the sometimes quotidian, sometimes quirky stopovers in between.

We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.

Technically not even 2020 stopped us. We played by the new rules of the interim normal and wandered Indiana in multiple directions as safely as we could. This year the long-awaited vaccines arrived. For 2021 we agreed we had to go big. Our new primary objective was Yellowstone National Park, 1500 miles from Indy…

Over the next three chapters you’ll see the “sampler platter” approach that I previously mentioned in full effect. If you don’t have time to spend days or weeks in the park, once you’re out there in the middle of it you’ll feel increasingly compelled to view every possible square inch around you to the fullest extent within your self-imposed limitations, especially if you’re not sure you’ll ever get the chance for a return visit. The sights in this chapter are represented in the order experienced and, varied as they are, were all taken within the space of a single hour. The travel formula was accelerated over many miles yet simple at heart: mosey along; park car; bask in the imagery of a glorious Creation; retreat to car; repeat.

Gibbon River, Yellowstone!

Beyond the waterfall, the Gibbon River flows onward toward the horizon.

Yellowstone fallen trees!

Between the falls and the widening river, fallen trees litter the mountainside on the far riverbank.

Yellowstone forest traffic!

In the miles-long gaps between parking lots and signage clutter, panoramas continued unfettered in all directions.

Yellowstone round hill!

I wouldn’t be surprised if every peak had a name. I like to think this one’s called Mount Roundy.

Norris Geyser Basin construction!

Cars were parked for several blocks before and after the roadsides around Norris Geyser Basin, where we consequently didn’t stop.

Yellowstone Roaring Mountain!

Roaring Mountain’s name is real, as is its altitude of 8,152 feet. I’ve scaled quite a few of its cousins in Skyrim.

Yellowstone Roaring Mountain tiny spring!

A tiny fumarole on the side of Roaring Mountain.

Obsidian Cliff, Yellowstone!

3½ miles north of Roaring Mountain is Obsidian Cliff, slightly shorter but no less imposing.

Yellowstone Beaver Lake!

Across from Obsidian Cliff is Beaver Lake, where we saw zero beavers and could scarcely see the lake amid all the greenery.

Obsidian Cliff Yellowstone!

A view of Obsidian Cliff from Beaver Lake. Its name is no mere color reference; real obsidian abounds, particularly in an adjoining quarry that locals relied on for various uses over the centuries.

Obsidian Cliff Rock Thieves!


Obsidian Cliff Yellowstone!


Yellowstone Beaver Lake!

Parts of Beaver Lake look more like a creek, but whatever, still keen.

Yellowstone stone bridge!

A stone bridge over the waters adds ambiance and driveability.

yellowstone green mountain!

Other nearby terrains don’t remotely resemble Obsidian Cliff. Land of contrasts, and all that.

Yellowstone greenery!

The shades of green varied as the miles wore on and the lighting conditions kept shifting with the cloud movements.

Willow Park deer Yellowstone!

We braked in the vicinity of Willow Park only long enough to spot a few deer.

Yellowstone deer!

The deer weren’t the last animals we’d see in Yellowstone. Still no sign of bears, though.

To be continued!

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my faint signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

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