An October 2002 trip
to Yellowstone National Park by Lovestogo
Quote: Yellowstone National Park is a magical and enchanting natural wonder. Once your heart and soul has been captured under its' spell, you will forever be mesmerized with the many wonderful facets of nature that it has to offer.
Autumn in Yellowstone is quite simply nature''s splendid bliss!!! The vibrant fall colors of orange, red, yellow, and bronze amongst the dark green evergreens was brilliantly picturesque! The vivid aspen trees with their golden leaves shining in the sunlight made us stop at almost every single spot to capture the moment on film. What spectacular beauty is nestled amongst the 2.2 million acres that make up Yellowstone National Park.
One of our most favorite things to do while in Yellowstone is to bring out the binoculars and spend some quiet time "wildlife watching" while enjoying the serenity of our surroundings. It is almost "unnervingly quiet" with only the sounds of the wind blowing around you. My husband especially likes to do "bear patrol" runs which entails spending time in Lamar Valley and the Tower/Dunraven Pass area, with enormous hopes of spotting a bear(s). Our first trip to Yellowstone in June totally captivated us and we couldn''t wait to return. Our October trip found us deep in anticipation of seeing some big horned sheep (we didn''t) and a grizzly bear (we did)!! For our June Yellowstone experience, see my journal "Yellowstone Through Our Eyes".
Yellowstone is the perfect spot for hiking, camping, biking, viewing geothermal bubbling pots and erupting geysers, wildlife watching, or for being the typical "car tourist". It also provides a perfect haven for relaxing and cleansing your body and soul of your hectic and busy life at home and work. Scenic panoramas can be found almost around every bend and you will continue to relive the vivid memories of your Yellowstone journeys when you return home and settle back into your normal hurry up and rush routine.
Always carry a jacket/polartec in the car with you, as the weather is very unpredictable. We found that a polartec over a long-sleeve shirt was perfect for the October weather. Of course, we had to occasionally add the hooded raincoats in order to block the ever-chilling winds!!
If visiting after September, one should confirm all road closings and construction paths. Our trip almost didn''t happen as one website listed the Tower/Dunraven road closed for construction and another website confirmed it as open.
If planning to visit in October, be aware that the majority of the park is closed for the season with only Mammoth, Canyon Village, and the Old Faithful area remaining open. Even with these areas open, access to food, gas, and supplies is limited. If planning on staying in the park, check early for lodging as each area of the park closes on a tiered basis and all rooms could be taken. Just about everything in the park closes mid-October and the roads close the first Monday in November (with the exception of the North entrance to Silver Gate) until snow season opens mid-December.
A car is definitely the best way to see and experience Yellowstone. It affords you the luxury of stopping whenever you want and the ability to spend as much time as you like at a particular spot without being on a time schedule.
Hotel | "Best Western Crosswinds Motor Inn"
The rooms are spacious, tastefully decorated and most of all, clean. All rooms have the standard amenities of a small microwave and refrigerator, color tv with cable & HBO, iron and ironing board, hairdryer and a small 4 cup coffee maker. Queen and king size beds are offered, as are smoking and non-smoking rooms. Rooms are also available for those with physical challenges. This facility allows pets in the smoking rooms only.
For our week's stay, we chose a unit with one queen bed. The walls had satin striped wallpaper and the room was furnished with dark, rich mahogany stained furniture. The tv was in an armoire style entertainment center with dresser drawers underneath for clothes storage. The room also contained two large, soft and inviting easy chairs with a table in between. It also had a desk and chair.
A free continental breakfast was offered each morning in the office/lobby area. Hours during the summer were from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and during our October stay, the hours were from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m. This breakfast included huge, red apples that were perfectly polished, plain cake donuts, bagels, mini blueberry and lemon poppyseed muffins, as well as bread for making toast. Cream cheese and different varieties of jelly were also available. Drinks included apple, cranberry and orange juice as well as coffee.
The Best Western Crosswinds has a large indoor pool, with a hot tub and sauna being in the same building. When we booked our return trip, I could only imagine soaking my tired bones in the hot tub. Needless to say after a full day in Yellowstone (from dawn to dark) we never made it to the hot tub!!!
Troy (one of the assistant managers) and his staff were extremely pleasant and helpful. They were always willing to answer our many questions and never a morning went by without him asking us about our previous days adventures.
We stayed at the Best Western Crosswinds in June for a couple of nights and found it to be a nice, quiet, clean and inexpensive place to stay. When we decided to make a return trip in October, I immediately booked our rooms there for the entire week.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 20, 2002
Best Western Cross-Winds Motor Inn
West Yellowstone, Montana 59758
The Timberline Cafe offers a wide variety of menu choices, from a light breakfast to a hearty dinner. A casual, family type atmosphere will greet you and you can relax and enjoy your meal in a smoke free environment. The Timberline Cafe is decorated in an eggshell and rose colored theme with huge, lightly stained lodgepole pine supports throughout the restaurant.
Breakfast is served from 6:30 a.m. (7 a.m. during winter) until 11:30 a.m. and some favorites are french toast, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and several varieties of omelettes prepared to your personal taste. All for under $8.00.
Lunch items are available from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. with several different types of sandwiches available for eating in or take out. French Dips, Roast Beef, BLT's, or a Hot Reuben is on the menu along with their soup and salad bar. Burgers are also available at the Timberline and they even have buffalo burgers! Lunch items are $7.25 and under.
Dinner brings out the robust appetite after a long, hard day of sight seeing or hiking in Yellowstone. My husband wanted to try some buffalo or elk while we were there, so The Timberline Cafe was the perfect place to do so. He had the Buffalo Rib Eye Steak, with a one time visit to either the soup OR salad bar, vegetable, potato, and dinner roll for $20.95. Since he didn't know what to expect, he was a little disappointed as it was slightly tough and had a wild game taste. I had the grilled chicken breast which included the same one time visit to the soup OR salad bar, vegetable, potato, and dinner roll for $11.95. Mine was both delicious and filling.
We ate twice at The Timberline Cafe during our stay. This time my husband chose their daily special, which was pork chops with peach barbecue sauce (with garlic and allspice seasonings), your choice of potatoes, corn on the cob, one trip to the soup OR salad bar and a dinner roll for $12.95. It was absolutely delicious!! I also ordered the same thing, but as it was after 8 p.m., they only had one daily special remaining. Just my luck!!! I opted for the lasagna with garlic bread and the one time visit to the soup OR salad bar. It was extremely good and hit the spot!! My entree cost was $14.25. Winter hours for dinner are 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.
When dining out, we usually do not do desserts, but there is something about being on vacation and desserts! The temptation is just too much! My husband chose the chocolate pie and of course the server brought two forks!! The crust was so light that it really did flake with the fork when touched. The chocolate filling was also extremely light and, of course, it was fat free!! We both would highly recommend this dessert!!
Both of our dining experiences were pleasant at the Timberline and it remains open all year.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 21, 2002
135 Yellowstone Avenue
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 59758
Three Bears Restaurant is best known for their great food and consistent service. The decor is warm and friendly as it is decorated in hunter green and burgundy with a log interior and exterior. During our October visit, the weather outside was chilly during the evenings and the atmosphere and surroundings of Three Bears created a relaxed, cozy feeling after a hard day of vacation experiences. One sight that everyone enjoyed was the "lifelike " three black bears standing near the fireplace. The walls are filled with photos and artifacts of days gone by and we enjoyed seeing what West Yellowstone was like in the olden days.
Three Bears is a favorite of the "locals". From their famous prime rib to the "fresh catch of the day", there will be something on the menu to catch your eye.
We had dinner twice at Three Bears during our week stay. My husband had the filet mignon ($19.95), which came with a baked potato and your choice of a one time trip to the soup OR salad bar. It was very good and cooked to perfection. I tried the "catch of the day", which was their own special recipe of "Pineapple Salsa Mahi-Mahi". I certainly had no idea what to expect. It had a very light and refreshing taste and was unlike anything I had ever tasted. My entree was around $15 and also came with a baked potato and a one trip to the soup OR salad bar.
Our second meal at the Three Bears came on our last night of vacation. We had awakened to snow that morning and the temperatures had taken a downhill fall. We were cold and wanted something warm. This was our lucky night as the Three Bears soup of the day was "homemade clam chowder". My husband was in heaven as they had for their nightly special "all you could eat barbecue ribs" for $12.95. This came with choice of potatoes and a trip to the soup OR salad bar. He was ready to compare their ribs to one of our hometown restaurants. I chose the open faced hot roast beef sandwich that was accompanied with mashed potatoes. I have never seen so much food for $7.95!! I also had a bowl of clam chowder which was extremely good!! It warmed the body after having been out in the cold!
The food was extremely good and the staff was friendly and attentive. This restaurant was recommended to us when we were there in June, but we never had the opportunity to eat there.
If you are just in the mood to have a drink before or after dinner, the Grizzly Lounge is located next door to the Three Bears Restaurant.
If visiting in October, this restaurant closes mid-October until mid-December. We were extremely lucky as several businesses were closing the weekend that we left to come home.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 22, 2002
Three Bear Restaurant
215 Yellowstone Avenue
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 59758
Canyon Street Grill offers its premium chicken sandwiches, a boneless chicken breast marinated in their own special blend of herbs and spices, served with either potato chips, french fries, sour cream & chive flavored potato wedges, onion rings or tater tots for only $6.95. They have six wonderful and delicious varieties to choose from.
Their burger family is totally "too many choices"!! They have the famous "Betty Boop" burger which is 100% USDA ground beef with American, Swiss, Provolone, Monterey Jack, Cheddar and Pepper Jack Cheese. A true cheeseburger heaven which my husband thorougly enjoyed! Your choice again of potato chips, fries, tater tots, onion rings or sour cream & chive flavored potato wedges, all for $6.95. For those of us that could not make a decision, they have the old stand by's of a deluxe burger/cheeseburger with all of the fixins'.
Perhaps you just want a light lunch salad. Not a problem !! They have five different varieties including their "Heaven on Earth" salad which includes a combination of ham, chicken, Swiss and American cheese for $7.45.
If you are just in the mood to stop in and reminisce about the good old days, grab yourself an old fashioned malt or shake and sing along with the oldies!!
We ate dinner twice at the Canyon Street Grill and each time our dining experience was always a treat. Whether you are in the mood for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can be assured that you will get the home-style meal you deserve!!
Canyon Street Grill
22 N Canyon St
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 59758
Our October trip to Yellowstone found us flying into Bozeman's Gallatin Field in Belgrade, Montana. To reach our end destination of West Yellowstone, we took Highway 191, which passes through Gallatin National Forest, Big Sky, and the northern part of Yellowstone National Park.
This scenic route would have to be included into our top 10 list of the most beautiful scenic drives. As we began our journey through The Gallatin Gateway, we were totally unprepared for the beautiful countryside that lay before us.
As we rounded one curve, I looked out the window to my right and there alongside a small stream was some of the most flaming red bushes. Of course the cameras were tightly packed away and unavailable. As we continued along the way, the scenery just got better and better!! The golden aspens against the back drop of the richly, dark colored evergreens, the snow capped mountains jutting up against the deep blue sky, and the wonderful fall colors of gold, orange, bronze, and crimson red glistening along the river banks. The memory is still wonderful today. As we continued along our 90 mile journey, we knew that this was one scenic route we would have to take again... and soon... before the fall colors faded!!! We decided at that point to just enjoy the scenery before us and make the return trip the next day, with us being rested and the cameras ready!!
After a quick breakfast on Sunday morning we headed out to start creating our October vacation memories. One beautiful place was Fawn Pass, which was also the start of a trailhead. The bronze/orange colored scrub grass with the deep blue stream running through it, against a snow capped mountain, was just too perfect to pass up (we discovered on the trip back that the lighting was even better in the afternoon).
We found several places to stop and explore while enjoying the unseasonably warm temperatures. Another favorite was around the Hell Roaring trailhead. There we were able to park and walk down to the Gallatin River, where we maneuvered ourselves out to a huge rock in the middle of the river. What a relaxing Sunday afternoon, nestled in the middle of autumn's spectacular colors with the sound of rushing water all around you. We simply sat and enjoyed natures picture perfect view that totally surrounded us. Through our binoculars, from this spot, we watched a climber atop "Lemondrop Mt." as he stood up atop his perch, after a hard climb, and took in his surroundings from the best possible place!!
Highway 191 is one of the most scenic highways in Montana, but it is also one of the most deadly. We saw many, many crosses (over 55) in memory of loved ones who had died along these scenic miles. Also, beware that the speed limit is strictly enforced with park rangers who do give tickets for speeding!! If you have any spare time, take this drive and enjoy some of Montana's best scenery!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 24, 2002
Picturesque Highway 191
Gallatin National Forest
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
After reading about the beauty of Beartooth Pass, it was put on our list of things to do this time in Yellowstone. We were thoroughly disappointed on Monday when we discovered that Beartooth Pass was closed. However the park attendant told us that it could open any day if the snow melted--and this was just Oct. 7th!
On Tuesday, while driving to Lamar Valley, we spotted a sign that said "Beartooth Pass Open". We were excited, immediately scrapped all present plans, and headed towards the Northeast entrance.
About three miles after exiting Yellowstone, we picked up Beartooth Highway through Silver Gate and Cooke City. Cooke City was something to see in itself. An old rough and tumble mining camp, it is isolated from the rest of the world and about 80 year-round residents live there. However, there are motels, grocery stores, souvenir shops, and a gas station (with outrageous prices) open there.
We enjoyed the scenery as we twisted and turned through the forests, gently climbing on our way to Beartooth Pass. We stopped at the Pilot-Index Overlook--what an awesowe panoramic view!! The valley down below with the river flowing through it and the snow-capped mountains were breathtaking! As we continued on our journey, we were totally startled when we rounded a curve and found a mother moose and her yearling starting to cross the road!! We tried to gather our wits as they ran back into the woods at Beartooth Lake.
While wanting desperately to see a big bull moose, we would gladly settle for the mother and baby!! We pulled off to the side of the road, grabbed our cameras and silently tip-toed across the road to see if they were anywhere in sight. Both were standing at the lake's edge, watching us!! After allowing us to snap several pictures, they decided that it was again time to cross the road; this time they went into a meadow where we photographed them again.
As we continued on our journey to the top, we noticed that snow had suddenly appeared and was getting deeper with every mile that we advanced. We turned around at The Top of The World and started down this scenic byway on our journey back into Yellowstone. Along the way, we encountered several mule deer in three or four different spots. Some were standing by the side of the road, grazing peacefully as they tried to eat as much as possible before the harsh winter set in.
Charles Kuralt once described this scenic byway as "one of the most beautiful drives in America". He described it perfectly!
Beartooth Highway Scenic Byway
Shoshone, Gallatin & Custer National Forests