Written by MilwVon on 21 Jul, 2012
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…Read More
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 thanked her for the offer. We headed back out towards Lamar in hopes that we might be early enough to see the wolf pack on the hunt or perhaps the bears grazing in the sagebrush. Unfortunately, there was little to be seen that morning other than fellow wolf seekers, a lone black bear way off in the distance and the pronghorns.At 9:15am we were back at Roosevelt. Nanc was going to go out hiking so I thought since I had good success seeing the bear on the road heading towards Mammoth Hot Springs, I thought I'd make the trek back in that direction. While no bears were seen during this part of my drive, it was nice to see elk around the Mammoth Visitor Center and the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. I had heard that they could frequently be seen in the area, but had seen none the day before. Today, however, there were plenty all around. In front of the hotel, there were several females with young, chilling out in what shade could be found or snacking on the flower baskets on the yard. They acted pretty tame, although there were park rangers at both locations to do "human control" as people continued to attempt to get close up and personal with the animals.I decided to give Hayden Valley another try for the grizzly bears as Nanc had said she often found them in that area. While I had been through there several times already, I thought it was worth one more try. When I stopped in at the Canyon Visitor Center for the bathroom, a lady was posting their 11:00am bear sighting at Hayden. Boy was I excited, although I also knew bears can be in one place and gone out of sight within 30 minutes.That said, I went about my business and then continued on towards Hayden. I stopped where the wolf watchers were but there didn't seem to be much happening there. I asked about bear sightings and was told that they had not seen anything but that at the next overlook there were some people along with a ranger . . . perhaps they were watching bears. I headed on to the next overlook and sure enough there were about four vehicles including the ranger's. The people had large scopes out and one man had a National Geographic caliber camera set up on a tripod. I pulled in and got a nice central spot overlooking the Yellowstone River and the valley below. It was around 1:00pm by now. With binoculars in tow, I asked what folks were seeing today. They pointed at the black specs (not even dots!) across on the hillside, stating that "Over there is the grizzly mom and her two cubs." Even with my 10x50 binoculars, I could barely make out the bears. Much easier was the huge bison midway between me and the specs.I stayed and watch, waited patiently as we could see the bears moving across the sagebrush. At one point they made their way into a lush green, grassy area where clearly you could make out that they were brown bears. The ranger stayed in the overlook for hours, as people came and went, viewing through the high-powered scope that had been set up to help folks view the bears. He said that the cubs were actually two-and-a-half years old and that is it unusual for the family to stay together this long. The male cub had been collared earlier in the year in anticipation of his going off on his own this summer, but so far, the family has stayed together.Continuing to watch the bears, everyone was hoping that they would continue to make their way down the hill and towards the river. Earlier in the day it had been reported that they had been observed about half a mile down river playing in the water so of course we were optimistic we might see a repeat in the late afternoon heat. After a couple of hours of viewing and waiting, our patience paid off. The sow and her cubs swam the river and came to our side of the valley. It was impossible from my vantage point to get photos, however, as they entered the water near some dead driftwood along the shoreline. I was able to snap a few shots of them as they came ashore.Momma bear continued to graze on the sagebrush while her two cubs fell-out and napped after their long swim and run. They were still very far away, requiring a scope or binoculars to see them closely. I was able to get a few photos that when enlarged and cropped, provide a decent view. I only wish there was a better place to view and photograph them.While all of the bear viewing drama was being observed, this lone coyote made its way across the valley, looking for a place to come up and across the road. With all of the people pulled off onto the shoulder, there was no place for him to go, so he proceeded down further until he could find a safe place to cross.I spent over two hours watching the bear family and with thunder heard off in the distance; it was time for me to make my way back towards Roosevelt. My drive from Hayden over the Dunraven Pass was uneventful. There was a small bear jam of people trying to get a look at a black bear with cubs just before Tower. By now it was pouring rain. Unfortunately, there was no seeing much of anything so I kept moving on.When I got to Roosevelt, I thought I would take one more quick trip down towards Lamar Valley to check out what might be going on out that way. With the thunder, lightning and rain, I didn't expect to see much. I was wrong!As I made the slight bend just past the Yellowstone picnic area, there were several trucks and cars pulled off on the right shoulder. I slowed down and asked someone what was seen. The young man said that "just above the guy in the white shirt" was a black bear. I commented that the guy up on the hill trying to get a closer look was a dumb @$$ to which he quipped "Hey that's my brother." I told him that I didn't care, he was still a dumb @$$ for getting that close to a bear. About that time the rangers arrived and cleared the area out.I went up ahead and did a U-turn in one of the pullouts. I then entered the picnic area and turned off my engine. A few minutes later, maybe five, the black bear came lumbering down the hill into the picnic area and parked itself under a tall pine tree. Imagine my delight, as well as that of the others in the cars that had parked there with me. It was getting dark quickly as the loud claps of thunder continued. The poor bear seemed to be cowering beneath the tree as to be seeking cover from the storm.A few minutes later, the bear ran across from this point and climbed a tree that was about 20 feet away. It happened so quickly, that I missed getting a photo other than of its big rump up in the tree. Moments later, I could hear it vocalize (grunt-like sounds) and next thing I knew, it was backing down the tree trunk. And imagine my surprise when one-by-one, two little ones came backing down too! This was clearly the same momma bear and young cubs I had seen the day before, a mile or so down the road.And off into the sunset the young family of bears went. What a special experience to have witnessed! With that, I headed in for the night, meeting up with Nanc back at the Roughrider Cabin. In bed by 8:00pm, it was still storming well into the night. Close
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…Read More
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 plan for tonight's overnight.I opted for the most direct route to GTNP, which would have me heading towards Tower and over the Dunraven Pass one more time. I did see a couple of blacktail deer near Tower. I also stopped in Hayden Valley "just in case" something was around to be seen. When I reached Canyon Village I was actually feeling hungry and wanting a real breakfast . . . you know, eggs, meat, toast. I remembered the breakfast hours at the Canyon Soda Fountain, and realized they would not be open for at least another hour, so I pushed on towards Lake Village.I stopped at the lovely Lake Lodge where there is a decent enough cafeteria where you can pick and choose ala carte. That seemed to fit the bill for my cravings just right. Admittedly, I over-ordered, but that was OK as it allowed me to make a sandwich for later in the day. The food was delicious in spite of not being piping hot. I couldn't believe how great a bottle of orange juice could taste!The view over Yellowstone Lake was beautiful. It was quiet and serene, especially since there were very few people up and around at 7:00am. After breakfast, I headed to the West Thumb Geyser Basin to take a couple more photos. The first time I had been through this area the sun was just rising and it was really too dark to get decent photographs of some of the boiling pots and other features in this area.Before leaving Yellowstone, I wanted to find out about the eruption prediction for the Great Fountain Geyser . . . you know, the one I waited for hours to see, only to later find out it went of early that morning. I stopped in at the Grant Visitor Center to inquire. The geyser had already gone off that morning around 6:00am so it was now predicted for 6:00pm plus or minus two hours. As much as I wanted to witness that event, it didn't seem worthwhile to hang around all day and overnight in Yellowstone to accommodate possibly seeing it, so I set about a plan that would have me leaving the area later in the afternoon.I again saw one of the resident bull elk at the Grant Village junction. From Grant Village, I continued on south to the John D. Rockefeller Parkway that connects Yellowstone NP with Grand Teton NP. Along that stretch of road I saw several deer, all passively watching traffic pass as they grazed on the morning dew moistened grasses.Arriving at the Colter Bay Visitor Center, I stopped in to get what would be the last of my NPS Passport stamps. I also asked the young ranger inside about wildlife viewing and bear sightings. He was not very helpful, giving the standard "bears are everywhere out there" response. OK - thanks!As I exited Colter Bay Village I did swing through the gas station to make note of the price as I knew I'd be needing fuel later in the day. At $3.579 it was going to be the cheapest in either of the parks, so this was the spot I stopped back later in the day to top off my tank.(con't. next page) Close
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…Read More
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 they were talking about. One man had hiked deep into the willow to get his photos with what appeared to be a 600mm lens. He was shooting without a tripod. All I could think was "good luck with that" as I have my challenges with my 70-300 lens at roughly a third of the weight. As the two large bull moose continued to eat, they worked their way into a small clearing. They didn't seem to be bothered much by the group of 10 or 12 people observing them. Surprisingly, there were only a couple of us interested in or trying to photograph the animals.After spending some time with the moose and getting a nice selection of photos, I felt amazingly fulfilled in terms of my desired wildlife photography. I decided to make the drive further into GTNP for what I hoped would be some interesting photos of the mountains and lake, and then I would head back to Yellowstone.I enjoyed my drive through GTNP to include the Jenny Lake area. With more people now awake, and it being a Saturday morning, the roads seemed quite crowded with people, cars and bicycles. It should be noted that if you enjoy bike riding out in the wild, this park is a great place to do that! There are numerous trails and bike paths; many of which are are relatively flat terrain. I did take the drive up to the Signal Mountain Summit, which had a nice view from the top. I was surprised to see so many cyclists heading to the top of what was a rather lengthy, winding road.So back in Yellowstone, my plan was to exit the park through the East Entrance towards Cody. That drive would have me passing by the Mud Volcano area again, so I also stopped there to get some photos (and video) of one of the more active gushing hot springs. I also made a brief stop at the Sulfur Caldron, another very stinky area that I had previously passed before the sun was up.As I exited Yellowstone NP, it was 4:00pm. I wondered about how far I would be able to make it before having to stop for the night. I considered the National Forest campgrounds just outside of the park, but realized that would have me stopping for the night before 6:00pm which seemed like a waste. I pushed on, enjoying the views as I passed through areas known for their bear population. I didn't see any, however, but I did stop along the way to photograph some of the lovely waterfalls that were seen coming out of the side of the mountains along the roadside. Around 4:45pm I was approaching the Buffalo Bill Reservoir and Dam. I stopped in for a quick visit at the NPS Visitor Center, as they were getting ready to close at 5:00pm. This is a National Historic Site and open to the public seven days a week and is free. I wish I had more time to explore and take the self-guided tour.Moving on, the town of Cody, Wyoming was just minutes away. I first saw the infamous Buffalo Bill Cody Stampede Rodeo Grounds and considered over-nighting in Cody in order to take in the evening's show. But since it was only 5:30pm and the show wasn't until 8:00pm, I didn't want to just hang around, especially since as I drove through town, it was apparent the other attractions were already closed for the day. Looking back at it as I write this a week later, I'm sorta sorry I didn't stay and experience a real western rodeo.In Cody I did make a call home to David to let him know I was on the road and heading home. I thought it might be possible to make it back to the nice KOA in Buffalo, Wyoming and that was my plan. I did some quick calculating, figuring that if I could make it that far, that would leave me with around 18 hours of driving to get home sometime on Monday.During my drive on through Wyoming, it was nice to be taking a different route east. This routing not only took me through Cody, but it also avoided all of the construction that I drove through going west. I also got to see a lot of free range livestock including cattle and sheep near Graybull. It was still very hot, with temperatures still in the high 90's at 6:30pm.I jumped on I90 at Sheridan and was able to make the rest of the drive to the Buffalo KOA. I checked in just before the office closed at 9:00pm. Completed zonked from the 500+ miles driven today, I was ready for bed. I did try to access the free WiFi from my campsite but being on the far backside of the property, the signal was too weak to connect.I feel asleep to the DJ spinning wedding music at the hotel next door. Yep that's right . . . there was an outdoor wedding reception next door with music blasting into the Wyoming night. Ah how I already miss the sounds of nature in Yellowstone! Close
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…Read More
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 hot. By 8:15am it was already 85F and when I arrived at Wall Drug at 10:00am it was 94F. It wasn't much longer before it was zooming over 100 degrees! For the rest of the drive until I got to the Minnesota border at 4:00pm, the temperature fluctuated between 100 and 104, with a spike of 106F just before noon. While there were strong winds, they didn't do much to cool things down as they were hot coming from the south. I was so happy to see the sun lower in the sky as I arrived in La Crosse, Wisconsin - our border with Minnesota along the Mississippi River.There really wasn't much to photograph along the way home. There was a barn quilt that faced I90 that I had seen on my drive the week before, so I did stop on my return through Minnesota to take a photo to send to the Barn Quilt lady who has written a book and is trying to document all of the quilts throughout the United States. Once in Wisconsin, it seemed real possible to make it home that night. I called David to let him know I was still on schedule to get home by midnight.The drive through Wisconsin took a little over four hours, and at times I was doubtful that I could stay awake for the entire distance. All that I could think was how it would really suck if I had to stop in Madison (about 90 miles from home) for the night. I did make it, however, thankful to be home to David and Miss Heidi.For the day, I drove 1095 miles in roughly 16 hours. All totaled, I logged just over 3,800 miles on this most excellent road trip.I loved Yellowstone National Park and hope to do it again some day. Badlands National Park and Grand Teton National Park were nice additions, but I could do without Custer State Park on any future jaunt across South Dakota. I would also encourage folks to consider the time to stop by the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site near Wall, SD as well.America is a remarkably diverse country with a variety of landscape, environments and wildlife. This trip reminded me of just how fortunate I am to live here, in such close proximity with the flora and fauna that makes the USA unique to so many other places on the planet. Close
Written by two cruisers on 26 Mar, 2012
We spent a day and a half walking around the heart of Jackson, WY. I love to shop and Bill does too...up to a point. At when he reaches that point, the commerce dept of Jackson, placed benches. Of course the prime photo-op are the…Read More
We spent a day and a half walking around the heart of Jackson, WY. I love to shop and Bill does too...up to a point. At when he reaches that point, the commerce dept of Jackson, placed benches. Of course the prime photo-op are the antler arches on all four corners of the Square. They are a magnificent achievment of collecting, preparing, and weaving to form the free standing arches. Everybody wants to take a picture here.Our first afternoon-evening walk about culminated at the Town Square Tavern for our evening meal. That was a big mistake. We had to climb a long flight of stairs. At the top was a dimmly lit sports bar with a very high noise level (and it was only 5:30pm). Maybe it was due to the noise level, but Bill's order was terribly messed up. He ended up with nothing on his plate that was edible.The next day we continued our shopping and found some really nice pieces. One was a bison carved out of Picasso Granite. Another was a smokey topaz gem set in a silver cage like mount on a ring. Oh, it takes my breath away just looking at it. Primarily the shops catered to rich cowboys, lots of leather and suede fringe, big belt buckles, fitted cowboy shirts and boots...lots of boots. There were other fun purchases like taffy from a candy store and another charm for my necklace.In the evening we walked out to The Bunnery a Bakery and Restaurant. We liked the menu and the choice of indoor or outdoor seating. It was mighty warm that afternoon so we settled inside. After we ordered a lady came along with mop and bucket filled with Pinsol and swabbed the floor around us. That triggered an asthma attack for me. We begged her to stop, but there must of been a language barrior because she took two more swipes. I had to go outside while Bill talked to the waitress about relocating us to an umbrellaed table on the patio. Neither of us remember if the food was good. I was too busy trying to breath again and Bill was suffering from the heat. Close
Written by whenilk38 on 10 Jan, 2010
Having awakened at my hotel in Rapid City and breakfasted at a buffet, I headed west into Wyoming and Montana with a destination that night in Bozeman. I had a beautiful day until I had passed…Read More
Having awakened at my hotel in Rapid City and breakfasted at a buffet, I headed west into Wyoming and Montana with a destination that night in Bozeman. I had a beautiful day until I had passed Billings and then the rain came, and it came with a vengeance. Of course, I was through with my sightseeing for the day by then, so it was a minor distraction to my driving. Earlier in the day, I went off the interstate to see Devils Tower, the monument that was featured-and probably introduced to many moviegoers-in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," the Steven Spielberg film starring a young Richard Dreyfuss. It is very easy to get to Devils Tower and back onto I-90 without backtracking. Coming from the east, exit at Sundance and drive north on Route 14 to Route 24. Route 24 takes you right to the tower. When you are ready to leave, go back down route 24 and turn right onto route 14 for the trip back out to I-90 at Moorcroft. Follow the same directions in reverse if coming from the west. Devils Tower is certainly awe inspiring, even more so than in the movies. You first see it from miles away as a huge monolith poking up over the rolling hills of eastern Wyoming. As you get closer, you can make out the tubes of rock that give it the appearance of a monstrous pipe organ. There were several climbers on the south face, the one away from the visitor center. I later learned that June is the month that the National Park Service observes the Indian taboos against defiling a sacred ground the tower represents. They discourage all climbing and will not issue permits to park visitors, so those climbers were doing so illegally. Up close, the tower is really quite majestic and the lava tubes are really visible. Devils Tower rises 867 feet from the base to the top. It was formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago, and the surrounding mountain eroded to expose the underlying lava. While you're at Devils Tower, don't miss the prairie dog villages along the loop road. There are turnoffs and parking places to get out and watch them. They are so cute. After leaving Devils Tower, I got back to the interstate and drove on toward Montana. Being a history buff, I couldn't pass the site of The Battle of The Little Bighorn where George Custer made his infamous "last stand" against overwhelming odds almost 133 years to the day from when I visited. The tribes commanded by Chief Sitting Bull and Chief Crazy Horse, among others, were 2,000 strong, while Custer only had about 220 troops under his immediate command with a reserve force of about that many under Major Benteen and Captain Reno. Nevertheless, he attacked, and what ensued has been chronicled as one of the worst defeats ever suffered by the US Military. The battlefield is not what I had thought, and not a level playing field at all. The whole conflict took place on a ridge of hills and valleys that covered about 4 miles. It is parallel to Interstate 90, and only a few hundred yards away from it, so many people pass the sight without even knowing how close they are to history. When the battle was over, the Indians gathered their wounded and dead and departed, leaving the cavalry soldiers scattered over the fields. When Benteen and Reno arrived on the scene, they buried the soldiers where they fell. Thus, the battlefield is marked by many individual and small group headstones, which you see scattered over the battlefield. There are many headstones at Last Stand Hill where the final chapter in the slaughter took place. However, in 1881 all troopers’ bodies were disinterred and reburied in a mass grave. The original headstones weren't disturbed. One, with a flag alongside is Custer’s. Colonel Custer--he was only a brevet-general, thus the rank was not permanent--and his officers' bodies were removed and reburied in national cemeteries. Custer's body Lies in the cemetery at West Point Military Academy. The Custer family lost several members that fateful day in 1876. Two of George's brothers plus a nephew were also among the dead. The true story of the battle never was released as no investigation ever took place out of respect for Custer's wife. The Battle of the Little Bighorn always will be shrouded in mystery. It is hard to believe, even now, that I was heading into a huge thunderstorm just a few miles ahead, but that was what awaited me, and it lasted throughout the night. Close
Written by creekland on 17 Oct, 2006
Since we love traveling, and are on a limited budget, it didn't take us long to figure out by tent camping you save a LOT of money, thus I was willing to give it a try. I never figured I'd enjoy it as much as…Read More
Since we love traveling, and are on a limited budget, it didn't take us long to figure out by tent camping you save a LOT of money, thus I was willing to give it a try. I never figured I'd enjoy it as much as I do...
Tent camping is one of our favorite activities. To us, there's simply nothing better than waking up in the morning in a fantastic "nature" setting and enjoying being one with it. Our tent is nicknamed "The Lodge" and is a big part of our memories. Another "plus" is that our minivan can go practically anywhere. RV's can occasionally limit your experiences due to roads not accommodating them - especially in some National Parks. Our van gets better gas mileage too.
If you want to give it a try, here are some tips to help you get started.
Tip #1: Don't let age stop you. Tent campers come in all ages. This was my mom's first time ever tent camping. You'll see everyone from young kids to retirees, male, female, families, and friend groups.
Tip #2: The vast majority of tent campers like it QUIET so they can enjoy nature. If you're one of those that plans to go out and have a loud get together, please stop reading these tips and head back to motels...you'll save a lot of us some grief. Loud folks (loud radios, talking, etc) are the worst part of tent camping. Those folks are talked about by everyone else—(at the bathhouse, etc) and NOT in a favorable manner. PLEASE do not bring a bunch of kids out tent camping without also teaching them to be quiet (and enforcing it).
Tip #3: Passed those? Then you'll need equipment. Cost generally = quality, but you don't always need the "best." I highly suggest doing some research before purchasing.
Tip #3a: Tents never truly sleep the max number listed - unless you like sleeping in a sardine can. Our tent supposedly sleeps 6, and works well for a family of 5. We'd never allow 6 in there. Two doors are also better than one (our tent has 3). We personally prefer fiberglass poles to aluminum - and we prefer a plain old tarp for a ground sheet over those they sell that attract every piece of dust out there. Newer styles can be set up easily - older styles tend to be clumsy and heavy. You want a rain shield and venting up top - not a totally closed tent (unless you LIKE steamy).
Tip #3b: Sleeping bags are rated for temperature. If you buy a low temp one and only tent camp at 65 or higher, you'll be sweating...If you buy a 40 degree rating and camp at Yellowstone (where it drops in the 30's), you'll be frigid. We like the 25 degree bags for our camping, but when it's warm, we leave them unzipped.
There are "mummy" styles (narrower at the feet) and "rectangular." Mummies will keep you warmer and tend to be smaller to pack, BUT many folks (including us) prefer our leg space, so prefer rectangular.
Tip #3c: Mattress pads are essential - but not those big, bulky, "blow them up" types that often sprout leaks at inopportune moments. Nope - never liked those. What we've found that is superb is Thermarest's Prolite 4 - regular sized. It's pricey - even on e-bay ($80 or so) - but it's worth its weight in gold. It rolls up tightly for easy packing, self-inflates, can be adjusted for very soft or very firm, keeps you warmer, and totally eliminates the feel of any ground "junk" you couldn't clear under your tent. Your tenting experience without a pad will be 100% different than with one (at least the sleeping part!).
Tip #3d: Camp cookware is essential if you're cooking. Spend the money for quality, it's worth it. The Internet often gives you the most options. Figure out what you'll be cooking and buy accordingly.
Tip #3e: It's worth it to buy paper plates, etc, as they're less time consuming than doing dishes.
Tip #3f: We keep two plastic storage boxes for camping one each for food and non-food items. By keeping things in boxes it makes packing very easy.
Tip #4: Campgrounds...There are two main types - public and private. Public means publicly owned and can be city, state, or federally owned. These are almost always cheaper, but don't always have the amenities some folks like. Locate these on maps by the little "tent" symbol. Private means privately owned and, while generally being more expensive, they often do have amenities like pools, etc. These are not on maps. To find them, some good books (for both) are Woodall's and AAA Camp Books (similar to their motel guides).
Tip #4b: Choose your campground by what you like. Remember how campers come from all ages and walks of life? Their "likes" in camping do too. Do you want to swim and be a little bit louder? Look private. Do you want more peace and quiet and "back to nature?" Then go public - with as few amenities as you can live with. A good rule of thumb is the less amenities, the less noise.
Tip #5: National Park Campgrounds don't have pools (though some parks have water areas that can be enjoyed by all). Some do not have flush toilets (they'll have pit toilets). Be sure to check carefully when planning. If there are showers, it'll cost to use them - have quarters. Private campgrounds usually include free showers - though with the higher cost to stay, you've paid for them anyway.
Tip #6: At some campgrounds you'll need reservations - to get the best spots, make those reservations early - esp if you want a spot with a view. Best spots are relative. Some prefer near the bathhouse in the center of loops. This is good for convenience, but not privacy. Others don't mind the walk to the bathhouse, so opt for far away on an edge. This gives you the most privacy. Consider your likes.
Tip #6b: Other campgrounds are first come, first served. This means you pick a spot when you get there. Sometimes these are the most popular campgrounds (like Jenny Lake in Grand Teton NP), so you still need to get there early (before 8am for Jenny Lake). Other times arriving early afternoon - or even evening - is ok. Research the specific campground to judge. To get these spots, when you get there, look for a large sign. This will have a map and registration envelopes below. Grab an envelope, read the directions, and go off to see what's available. Then return and put your $$, etc in the slot for it. It's easy - so don't be intimidated even if you're new.
Tip #7: Campers don't care what you wear. Jammies or sweats, etc to the bathhouse is just fine - and expected - of all ages. Don't buy designer wear - or worry about make-up, etc. There's also no "rules" on when, what, or how you cook/eat. Sometimes we do full meals and other times we forage poptarts (or equivalent). It depends on our mood and what we want to do/did that day. Campground stores are overly expensive, so it's best if you bring food in from grocery stores elsewhere.
Tip #8: Sometimes you can have fun conversations with your neighbors, but remember, many people are camping to "get away" so don't feel offended if folks aren't in the talkative mode. Look for cues.
Tip #9: Theft/crime is generally rare in campgrounds. I think campers have to be some of the most honest folks out there - and that's a big point we love. Still, don't leave valuables in plain sight and we don't hike alone. Except for our laptop, which we take with us hiking at times, we don't even bring anything valuable.
Tip #10: Campgrounds have different rules regarding many things (like fires, etc), so always read over the rules where you are. Some allow you to collect dead wood, others don't.
And lastly, give it a chance... unless, of course, you're one of those loud inconsiderate types. My Mom was REALLY tentative about camping with us - and got her start in COLD (at night) Yellowstone. By the end of the trip she was talking about possible future camping trips - some even with her and friends instead of just with us weird folks! :) It's addictive - and fun.
Oh yes, as a final PS... feel free to stay in a motel for a night or two on long travel trips - most of us do - and we're also always flexible to give up camping for a motel if rain is lurking...
Written by Slaney on 05 Aug, 2006
This area of 3,472 square miles was made a National Park in 1872 and was America’s first National Park. 96% in Wyoming, 3% in Montana and Idaho having1% and although there is an active volcano underground, 2,835649 people visited in 2005 (4 of which were…Read More
This area of 3,472 square miles was made a National Park in 1872 and was America’s first National Park. 96% in Wyoming, 3% in Montana and Idaho having1% and although there is an active volcano underground, 2,835649 people visited in 2005 (4 of which were us) with 140,000 being winter visitors.Inside the park, for drivers are 466 miles of roads and for hikers 950 miles of trails and 97 trail heads. It took us 90 minutes from the West Yellowstone entrance to get to Lamar Valley on the other side.It has a Grand Canyon approximately 20 miles long, numerous waterfalls, the highest being Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River at 308 feet and over 290 at 15 feet or higher, picturesque Yellowstone Lake with 110 miles of shoreline and the Geyser Basin.In Upper Geyser Basin are 60% of the worlds’ geysers, one of which is Old Faithful being one of the five which can be predicted. Named in 1870, because it was so predictable it erupts on average every 91 minutes, lasts 1.5 – 5 minutes and expels 3,700 – 8,400 gallons of boiling water, to a height of between 106-184 feet. We arrived too early to see this wonder so had breakfast in the café at the visitors centre. Everyone was on the same mission and it was very busy. At the appointed time we went to the viewing area to wait. Here there are benches so you can view in comfort. Just before Old Faithful erupted the one behind started and it was very high. Old Faithful did not seem as high or go on for as long, so we guessed it must have been one of the shorter eruptions and we were quite disappointed.Whilst in the area we visited historic Old Faithful Lodge, but it was so busy we had to push through crowds of people, and came away without seeing this historical building.Our next stop was the Minerva Springs climb up the boardwalks. As we were climbing we spotted an Elk resting in the middle of one of the terraces. Further up was a rabbit foraging in the bits of grass and then we spotted some furry animal floating in one of the hot pools.The weather during our visit was cool for the first few days and then became warm and we were in t shirts and shorts. We were informed that the day before we arrived it had snowed and a few cars had skidded.Such a large diverse area with so much to see, our visit was in mid September and there were quite a number of people about, obviously some areas were more popular and crowded than others. We spent four full days touring the park and would have loved to have stayed longer – we may even have seen a bear! Close
Yellowstone National Park has deer, elk, bison, goats and antelope, grizzly and black bear, 50 species of other animals and 311 species of birds. Some species are threatened (bald eagles, grizzly and lynx) and endangered (whooping crane and grey wolf), and we were…Read More
Yellowstone National Park has deer, elk, bison, goats and antelope, grizzly and black bear, 50 species of other animals and 311 species of birds. Some species are threatened (bald eagles, grizzly and lynx) and endangered (whooping crane and grey wolf), and we were hoping to see as many animals as possible – especially a bear.
As we entered the park we passed areas with steam rising from the ground and there across the river were two bison feeding - our first sight of these beautiful animals. We immediately stopped, grabbed our cameras and made our way as close as we dared, bearing in mind the rule of not getting too close to annoy wild animals. We were there ages snapping them as they placidly made their way to the river for a drink grazing as they went. It wasn’t until later that we realised we probably should not have walked on the ground where we did as we had to avoid all the small geysers in the ground.
Our next sight of wild animals was about 8am on our first full day in the park in the Mammoth area. We were eating breakfast outside the Visitors Centre and saw a large herd of Elk. We went to get a closer look and although they were on the grass and I walked past them on the pavement, a Ranger told me I was too close. Apparently one had charged someone the day before, so Rangers were extra watchful. All the females were lying on the grass, there were also young ones with them. Suddenly a male with large antlers appeared and started bugling, then another male was seen moving quickly away.
We saw so many Elk and Bison that day we got quite blasé about them – especially
the Elk, beautiful as they are.
Throughout our visit we saw quite a number of animals including Antelope. We even started a "jam" when we spotted a coyote and pulled over to watch. This made other people stop and there was a crowd before long. Suddenly an RV went past at speed hooting his horn and the coyote ran away, leaving everyone disgusted with this ill mannered driver.
In Lamar Valley, we came across a group of vehicles and people, including a Ranger, with spotting scopes and binoculars watching three wolves in the far distance. They were moving quickly down the valley and kept popping up above the grass. Despite being shown where they were a number of times, only one of our party was lucky enough to spot them. We did however, see one lone wolf near Norris and were thrilled.
We were also thrilled at seeing Bald Eagles, there were so many we saw them every day and stopped to watch each time. There were also beautiful Grey Jays which fed from our hands as well as the more timid Blue Jays.
Rocky Mountain Long Horn Goats (the Ranger informed us) were causing a jam on one of the passes. They were just meandering up the road without a care in the world while all the traffic slowed as people stopped to look, then they casually jumped on the wall and walked down the sheer cliff face at the other side.
Bison were everywhere, and we never got tired of seeing them. Some were on their own, one made his way slowly down the road past our vehicle with a stream of other vehicles following. There were also huge herds grazing with mothers keeping watchful eyes on their offspring. They looked so placid and we felt we could just hug them, but you have to remember they are wild animals and keep your distance!
Some people, however, are oblivious of the danger and we saw people with such long lenses so close to Elk they must have had a really good shot of the inside of its nostril – they could never have got anything else. One man was actually stalking one Elk – then people wonder why they get injured.
The main animal we wanted to see was a bear. We also wouldn’t have minded seeing a moose, but unfortunately both species were nowhere to be seen and we were quite disappointed.
Our last day in the park saw us doing the full figure of eight tour. In Hayden Valley, we came across a lot of cars at the roadside and people sitting on the grass looking through binoculars. An Elk was lying dead some distance away and ravens were feeding on it. The people were actually sitting patiently waiting for bears to come and feed. Had we had more time we would have joined the vigil, but time was getting on and we had a 90 minute journey to our accommodation after leaving the park and a long journey ahead of us the next morning.
Written by Scotch on 05 Jun, 2000
The single largest regret that I have about our short trip to Jackson Hole was that we didn’t get the opportunity to experience the gorgeous snow conditions and wonderful terrain of Grand Targhee, which is a fairly short 1 hr 45 min. drive from Jackson…Read More
The single largest regret that I have about our short trip to Jackson Hole was that we didn’t get the opportunity to experience the gorgeous snow conditions and wonderful terrain of Grand Targhee, which is a fairly short 1 hr 45 min. drive from Jackson Hole, on the other side of the Grand Teton range. Targhee boasts smaller crowds, over 500 inches of natural snowfall per year, and a guarantee that if you are not satisfied with the snow conditions on any particular day, you may return your ski pass and receive a voucher to ski on another day that same year.
There’s no snow making here - and they don’t need it. The motto: “snow from heaven, not from hoses.” Everyone to whom we spoke gave this place rave reviews. Targhee will surely be one of my first stops when I return to JH.