Yellowstone National Park Journals

Road Trippin' Across America's Heartland

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A July 2012 trip to Yellowstone National Park by MilwVon

Bison Near the Mud Volcano Area Photo, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming More Photos
Quote: This journal is written in a blog format, documenting my road/camping trip from Milwaukee, Wis. to Yellowstone Nat'l Park in Wyoming. Lots of photos included! Separate journals with detailed reviews to follow.

Getting Started

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My Supper Photo, South Dakota, United States
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Living in Wisconsin provides a wonderful opportunity to really explore the Great Midwest. This rather last minute impromptu eight day road trip to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming took me across Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wyoming . . . all rather large states to traverse resulting in long distances and a lot of windshield time within each.The beginning (out of Milwaukee) and the end (through rural Wyoming) provided opportunity to see some small towns along the way. In between, however, it was a long slog across I90 through the four states. Experiencing a July heat wave that saw temperatures often exceeding 100 degrees, the drive was in relatively nice weather.My dr...Read More

Enjoying My Day in South Dakota

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Badlands Flowers Photo, Badlands National Park, South Dakota
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Monday July 9thIt was fortunate that I was able to make it all the way to the Badlands National Park and able to find a camping spot in their Cedar Creek Campground near the main visitor center. I was in bed and asleep by 10:00pm MDT and up before sunrise the next morning. My plan was to find a scenic location to catch the sunrise for what I hoped would be lovely photos. From my pre-trip research, Norbeck Pass seemed to fit the bill, so that was my first destination on my drive of the park. With a 5:15am sunrise, I was ready with time to spare since it would take some time for the sun to clear the craggy peaks located along the Fossil Trail. In the meantime, I spotted my first wildlif...Read More
Moulton Barn Photo, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
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Tuesday July 10thAfter a good night's sleep, I was up and ready for a nice hot shower in the KOA campground. It's probably been over 25 years since my last KOA stay; this reminded me of just how nice their locations are. This particular campground only recently affiliated with KOA having been an independent for many years operating as Twin Creek Campground.In addition to the great showers and restrooms, they offer a children's playground and decent size swimming pool. Hook-ups are available for RVs and there is complimentary WiFi (which I took advantage of the night before to contact home and post a few photos on Facebook).After showering and getting dressed, I w...Read More

Yellowstone - Day 1 (part 1)

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My First Sunrise in Yellowstone Photo, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
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Wednesday July 11thI went to bed last night shortly after 9:00pm and woke up cold a couple of times during the night. The first time, I put on warmer clothes and the second time, I broke out the "zero degree" sleeping bag and used it as a comforter. I woke up for the day at 5:50am to 48F outside.Since I had a shower to start the day Tuesday, I opted to by-pass using my shower pass at Grant Village in order to head out and get a early start on wildlife viewing and my planned drive around the lower loop of the Yellowstone Park Road. For those who are not familiar with Yellowstone, you can drive the entire park road in your personal vehicle. There are limitations o...Read More

Yellowstone - Day 1 (part 2)

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Firehole Spring Photo, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
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Wednesday July 11th (con't)Heading out of the Norris Junction area I found a small picnic area along the Gibbon River where I fixed a sandwich and enjoyed my lunch. There were children playing in the water and a fly fisherman upstream who looked to only be in ankle deep. Several minutes later, a large bull elk was seen grazing.Mobs of people stopped and went river-side to photograph the beautiful animal. As with the other elk I had seen in the park, he appeared to be healthy.Back on the loop still heading counterclockwise, my next diversion was the Firehole Lake Drive, home to what is touted as one of the most spectacular geysers in the park - The Great Fountain ...Read More

Yellowstone - Day 2 (part 1)

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Walking the Balance Beam Photo, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
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Thursday July 12thToday was a great "bear day" with lots of sightings throughout the park!It started at 5:50am with a frigid wake-up of just 36F after overnight thunder-boomers that rocked my van between 10:00pm and roughly midnight. The entire Canyon Village area was socked in with dense fog; even the bison around the junction were difficult to see.My plan for the day was to do the upper loop, again heading counterclockwise, with an added detour out the North Entrance to Gardiner, MT. Gardiner was on the agenda for two purposes: 1) to have breakfast at the Tumbleweed Bookstore and Cafe, and 2) to buy "cheap" gas outside of the park.This part of the p...Read More

Yellowstone - Day 2 (part 2)

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Cubs Following Mom Photo, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
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Thursday July 12th (con't)From the Norris Junction, I head back towards Canyon Village so as to continue my counterclockwise loop that would eventually land me back at Roosevelt Lodge and my cabin for the night. When I arrived in the area, it was really too early to check-in and go to the cabin so I figured I'd head up towards to NE Entrance at Silver Gate. Since the Lamar Valley is one of the better known wildlife viewing areas and there had been a black bear with two cubs seen in the area, it seemed like a decent way to spend a couple of hours.I wasn't five miles from the Roosevelt Junction when I came upon a large back-up of cars complete with a couple of park ranger vehic...Read More

Yellowstone - Day 3

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Here They Come! Photo, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
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Friday July 13th"Unlucky Friday the 13th" . . . HA! What another great day to be in Yellowstone National Park, enjoying nature and the beauty that surrounded me.Overnight we had quite the thunderstorm in the northern area of Yellowstone NP. At one point the crack of thunder was so loud it woke both Nanc and I up, startling us in our unfamiliar surroundings and beds. It was around 3:00am so plenty more sleep to be had. I know I rolled over and fell back asleep pretty easily. Next thing I knew, it was 5:30am and time to get moving.Nanc again offered to drive for our morning wildlife viewing and since the front seat area of my van was filled with stuff, I gladly ...Read More

Yellowstone & Grand Teton (part 1)

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My Breakfast View Photo, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
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Saturday July 14thI woke up early (5:30am) and was ready to hit the road after my good-byes with Nanc. She was actually up before me and ready to get moving first, so it worked out just about perfectly. As I did my last check of our cabin, I pondered what I would do with my day. Originally, my plan was to stay in the parks through the weekend and head home Monday in order to be home Tuesday night.I felt as though I had already had several great days of wildlife viewing, even if I had not seen the illusive wolves in either Hayden or Lamar. I had also not yet seen a moose, but I had what I thought was a good lead on locating them, down in Grand Teton NP which was my initial p...Read More

Yellowstone & Grand Teton (part 2)

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Moose in GTNP Photo,
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Saturday July 14th (con't)Earlier in the week, I met a couple from Portage, Wisconsin. In talking about the wildlife we'd seen, I was envious that he had seen moose. He told me that he had been told of a marsh area just beyond Colter Bay down the Pilgrim Creek Road. Sure enough, when I made the left-hand turn, I could see a number of cars pulled to the shoulder, and several people out walking into the willows. There was also a tour company with guests watching. Their driver/guide was explaining to folks about the moose habitat and that the bull moose in this area were getting ready for rut season next month.From the vantage point that I had, I could barely see the moose th...Read More

Hot, Hot, Hot . . . Home Sweet Home

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Minuteman Missile Silo Photo, Philip, South Dakota
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Sunday July 15thI rested well at the KOA in Buffalo, awaking as the sun rose at 5:15am. I got around, straightening out the inside of the van in preparation for my long drive home to Wisconsin. I was showered and on the road by 6:00am. According to Toots (our Garmin GPS device), my ETA home was 11:15pm. I was pretty shocked to think I might actually be able to get home that evening, so that became my goal as I drove the last couple hundred miles through Wyoming and on into South Dakota. In South Dakota, I did want to stop in Wall to take a look around Wall Drug as well as the Minuteman Missile Silo at the 116 Exit from I90.The drive across the heartland was long, flat and ...Read More