Written by MilwVon on 21 Jul, 2012
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 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 not2creative on 14 Jul, 2003
Entering the park from the south the view of the Grand Tetons was a perfect way to start our tour of the park. The first stop was Lewis Lake. Small hike to view Lewis Falls. Snow was still on the ground in July!
We stayed in…Read More
Entering the park from the south the view of the Grand Tetons was a perfect way to start our tour of the park. The first stop was Lewis Lake. Small hike to view Lewis Falls. Snow was still on the ground in July!
We stayed in Grant Village the first night and spotted the first Bison. This is probably the most spotted animal--many times we had to stop the car as they would stand in the middle of the road! Grant Village has an amphitheater where lectures are given.
The next morning we headed west stopping to see Old Faithful, taking too many photos of this geyser! Next on to the Fountain Paint Pots--a MUST see. No walking is necessary to enjoy this area but if you are able, take the half mile loop around to view all of the geyers, mud pots, and steam vents. There is also a worthwhile loop around Firehole Lake Drive. From here we headed up to the upper loop and visited the Mammoth Hot Springs. This hotel was the nicest we stayed in. At the Hot Springs is where we got an up close look at the elk in the park.
The next morning we headed east and spotted bears climbing up the hill. We headed to the Tower Roosevelt area and stopped to go hiking. If you time this right you can take a stagecoach ride at Roosevelt Lodge. They were offered five times a day. This part of the park was burned out when I visited in 1996. Just a short hike will take you to the Tower Falls--by now you will want to get out of the car again anyway. Continue south and be sure to stop at the canyon where we saw bald eagles flying over the canyon. Deer will be easily spotted on the side of the road.
The trip from Canyon Village down to Fishing Bridge may remind you of the Shenandoah Mountains. Green and beautiful--such a stark contrast to the northern end of the park! Be sure to stop by the lake for a picnic! If you have time the park service offers boat rides and rentals at the Bridge Bay marina.
There were many activities including horsebacking riding that you could enjoy, but be forewarned. Many of these activities require advance reservations. They also had a lot of restrictions on the horses--height, weight, and age. Again, I cannot stress enough to plan ahead!
The park had so much to see and do. The sights were so varied from one side to the other and from the north to the south. You might think you have been in several states!
To sum up my visit--WOW! It was the best vacation I have ever had! We drove from the park stayed a few days in Cody and then headed down to Colorado Springs. 15 days of bliss!
Written by MarkR37 on 30 Jun, 2001
When I read that Highway 212 was proclaimed America's most beautiful highways by Charles Kuralt I circled this as a must do and planned my trip so that I traveled along this mountain highway on my way back to Billings from Yellowstone Park. I really…Read More
When I read that Highway 212 was proclaimed America's most beautiful highways by Charles Kuralt I circled this as a must do and planned my trip so that I traveled along this mountain highway on my way back to Billings from Yellowstone Park. I really didn't know what to expect and what I found surpassed my high expectations. I agree with Mr. Kuralt. I have never been on a more scenic, more spectacular road in my life.
From Yellowstone Park you travel through a very large open valley where buffalo and elk graze and if you are lucky you can view the wolf pack that hunts these herds. The scenery is bucolic and wonderful. As you approach the park's exit, the road starts to follow a large canyon full of big pine trees and a roaring river at the bottom. We stopped and took some pictures of the water and some wildflowers before saying good-bye to Yellowstone. At this point in the drive I thought that while beautiful, the highway was a bit over rated.
Next stop was the adorable little town of Bear Tooth. We stopped here for lunch and had a nice time walking along the small shops. The town looks a little like a set with flat facade western style buildings bunched together on the highway with little or nothing anywhere else. I read that once 212 closes for the winter in October they have to get supplies through Yellowstone which itself is closed on and off during the winter. Talk about being shut off from the world!
Next we followed the highway up the side of a mountain which afforded great views of Yellowstone behind us we then came upon Bear Tooth Lake which was a pristine lake full of trout and in the shadow of snow capped mountains. The views from the shoreline rivaled any lake I have ever seen and reminded me of Avalanche Lake at Glacier National Park which I had visited a week before.
Next we continued to climb up and up along the mountain and to my amazement saw switchbacks that literally went to the peak of the mountain. As the tree line dropped away, pockets of snow started to become evident and by the time we were at the top, the temperature was in the mid-thirties and there was snow all around us. This was one week ago on June 21st. The views of the surrounding mountain range were fabulous and we stopped at the rest area right over the top of the peak to soak them up.
The rest of the highway is basically down hill with more great views until you reach Red Rock. I highly recommend you try to fit in this amazing road into your itinerary. It was one of the highlights of our trip.
Written by Wasatch on 20 Nov, 2007
Getting there is half the fun, for Yellowstone is the high point of one of the continent’s mostscenic regions. From the southwest via I-15: turn right on Orem exit 800 N. Stay in the left lane, which willput you US…Read More
Getting there is half the fun, for Yellowstone is the high point of one of the continent’s mostscenic regions. From the southwest via I-15: turn right on Orem exit 800 N. Stay in the left lane, which willput you US 189 to US 40 in Heber City. Turn left on US 40 to I-80 east to Evanston, WY. Turn left on UT 32 at the stop light about 4 miles north of Heber City to UT 150 in Kamas.From Salt Lake City and the west via I-80: Go east on I-80 to Evanston, WY. The more scenicroute by UT/WY 150 will add 2-3 hours, and is more scenic when driven on the return trip fromEvanston. Go south, right turn, on US 40 to the Kamas exit to Kamas. In Kamas, turn left onUT 32 (Main St.) and then left on UT 150 to Evanston. The recomended route from Evanston is WY 89 through the Snake River Canyon. Therecomended return to Evanston is US/WY 89 to US 189 to I-80 or, at Kemmerer, home of thefirst JC Penny store, go west on US 30 to Fossil Butte National Monument to WY 89. Thescenery is different on the two routes, and, as with most mountain drives, the scenery is bestwhen driven in this direction.If you must travel by expressway, take I-15 north from Salt Lake City to ID 31/WY 22 to US189/WY 89.If you have done all the above, return by US 191.For what it’s worth, we have traveled all the above several times. If you have do these, US 191on the return to Evanston is a alternative that is longer than US 189 with similar scenery unlessyou pause in Pinedale for a trip into the specular Wind River Range.Things to see along the way: Echo Canyon, I-80 from I-84 to Evanston. During the MormonWar of 1857, America’s first civil war, the Mormon Militia fortified the top of Echo Canyon, prompting a visiting European General to comment it was the most impregnable fortification onEarth. The US Army sent to invade Utah never got through Echo Canyon during the war. Thetwo roads leading into the Wind River Range from Pinedale on US 191. Hoback Canyon, US189/191 is a good place to see Mountain Sheep near the road, and a great spot for Aspens in thefall.On WY/UT 150: Provo Falls and Mirror Lake. WY/UT 150 is best driven from Evanston toKamas.On WY 89: Intermittent Spring, Afton, WY. Snake River Canyon, Alpine to Jackson.On US 30 between US 189 and WY 89: Fossil Butte National Monument. Best gas prices: the truck stop on the east side of Sage on US 30 at WY 89 and the MaverickStation in Afton. Best places to eat on WY 89: Betty’s on the south end of Alpine and the steak house in Afton.Close
Written by creekland on 15 Oct, 2006
"Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam, and the deer and the antelope play..." Wyoming is that place (or could be anyway) and Yellowstone National Park is one of the prime spots to see not only those, but also elk, coyotes, bear, wolves,…Read More
"Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam, and the deer and the antelope play..." Wyoming is that place (or could be anyway) and Yellowstone National Park is one of the prime spots to see not only those, but also elk, coyotes, bear, wolves, and birds of all shapes and sizes... Besides seeing the thermal features (Old Faithful, etc), seeing the large animals most of us so rarely see at home is one of the biggest highlights of this park. Here are a couple tips we've found by both experience and asking some of the rangers.
Tip #1: Critters can be seen anywhere at anytime, so ALWAYS have your camera ready. Some of the best shots are candid, unexpected, sights.
Tip #2: Critter "hunting" is best done in the early morning or later afternoon/early evening as that's when the animals are most active. We opted to go critter hunting each evening we were there - and were never disappointed.
Tip #3: These critters are WILD and can be DANGEROUS - and if you're dumb and get too close so they hurt you, they get killed for it. Please, give them their space. This isn't a zoo or Disney World. You're in their turf - enjoy them from a respectable distance. Buffalo are bigger, faster, and can and do hurt tourists.
Now, for specific locations, etc to "hunt." (Where you have your best odds to see certain types for your advanced planning purposes.)
For buffalo/bison, check out the Hayden Valley just north of Sulfur Caldron or the Pelican Valley just east of Fishing Bridge - esp in the later afternoon if you'd like the possibility of being in a "buffalo jam" (when the buffalo are on the road requiring traffic to stop). At other times they can be seen in the fields grazing or sleeping. In the Hayden Valley they can often be seen crossing the river (swimming) - which alone - is a treat for many of us. There are also a couple near the thermal features in the western sections of the park, but the larger herds are in the eastern areas.
Elk are all over - they can be seen in the eastern valleys, but are more often up close near the road or on some of the hikes in the western section of the park. At times there will be "elk jams" but those aren't as often from elk on the roads as they are from people stopped admiring the huge racks on the bulls.
Coyotes are all over too - we saw ours between Norris and Old Faithful hunting in the fields - you had to look carefully for motion, so drive slowly (or stop at the pullouts and look).
Yellowstone has wolves too - and they are moving out to more areas so check with the visitor's centers to see where you might see them. They're still pretty reclusive. People were stopped at one of the overlooks in the Hayden Valley looking for them in the evenings when we were there, but one needed some powerful binoculars to see them. Look closer in the water close to you there and you can often see a beaver and sometimes pelicans. Beware when you take pictures of a "doglike" critter. Some folks had pictures of coyotes they were calling wolves... If in doubt, ask a ranger.
Bears... our nemesis here... we went looking for them - they are most often found in the northeast between Canyon and around Tower-Roosevelt - or at Fishing Bridge Campground - but we always came up empty this trip. The rangers told us in August the bears like to go farther in the back-country hunting the ripe berries. He suggested coming in July to have better odds. On our trip 2 years ago we did see one down in Grand Teton National Park - eating berries on a hill next to the road. Still, you could get lucky. If you see cars pulled off looking at something, stop and see what it is. Many times that's how bears are spotted - one family saw it cross the road, the rest saw their car stopped.
We hunted near Yellowstone Lake for moose, but never saw any. A ranger suggested the best tip for seeing moose was to go to Grand Teton National Park. We did see them there two years ago.
Birds of all shapes and sizes can be found anywhere - esp near water. We saw pelicans, geese, storks, cranes, herons, trumpeter swans, woodpeckers, osprey, and various assorted songbirds. Then there's the ravens... beware when camping, they're watching you and they like people food and aren't afraid to raid yours if you take your eyes off it.