Day 8 – Trip West

June 29:

Our last full day of vacation & we made the most of it. Another sunny morning & we left The Beartooth Inn @ 7:30 AM after our comp. breakfast. 50 miles from Cody to Yellowstone on the Buffalo Bill Scenic Highway. And it IS scenic: through the Shoshone National Forest (1st National Forest to be established in USA!), followed the pretty Shoshone River, past ranches & saw MANY impressive rock formations called hoodoos.

Hoodoos on Buffalo Bill Highway
Hoodoos on Buffalo Bill Highway
Natural Bridge

8:30 AM: Entered Yellowstone & drove through mountainous, rugged area. Passed large (past) wildfire area with charred, dead pines. Saw several pockets of forest like this in the Park during our travels. Also, the park lets trees lie where they fall unless they block roads or trails. So there are tons of downed trees throughout park. Not unsightly, just natural… & interesting.
Stopped at Fishing Bridge General Store for a bit of shopping and got huckleberry yogurts for future lunch stop.
9:30 AM – It was a pretty morning & not too warm yet so we decided on a hike stop. Parked in the Bay Bridge Marina lot and found Natural Bridge Trail Head. This was a pretty, fairly flat hike (3 miles roundtrip) through pine woods with glimpses of the bay. It was quiet… not many others on trail at all though we saw handful of folks hiking out as we returned. My husband had the bear spray in hand but only animal sightings were chipmunks! ūüôā

11 AM – Quick restroom & coffee stop at marina store near where we parked.¬† Headed south past Yellowstone Lake. Saw elk in field.¬† Gorgeous day & getting warmer…. glad we hiked when we did!

Suddenly, we came to complete stop right beside Lewis Lake.¬† LONG line of cars & none coming from other direction. Shut off car & wonder if it is a big animal jam (we had only encountered very brief animal crossings during week, no real ‘jam’ or delay). A few people walked down road & we heard that someone went off road & almost into lake.¬† Finally go past this vehicle – nose down on a steep bank & almost in water.¬† This was an hour-long delay. I felt bad for folks just entering the park or people with kids. And I was glad we weren’t on a tight schedule for a flight today.

12:50 PM  РLeft Yellowstone through South Entrance. What an amazing park! And now back in those glorious Tetons. 86 degrees now but no humidity. Hot!

1:20 PM РStopped for a picnic lunch at Colter Bay. Got a picnic table right on the stony beach overlooking the mountains on the far side of Jackson Lake. People are swimming / sunbathing.  575

View from our picnic table: Jackson lake & The Tetons.
View from our picnic table: Jackson lake & The Tetons.

Go through Colter Bay’s Visitor Center’s interesting exhibits &¬†then head south through the park. Stop at Willow Flats pullout & see large, male moose in the distance. At 3 PM, my husband announces we have put 1,000 miles on the rental car. It doesn’t seem like we drove that far/much as there is constant beautiful scenery, animal sightings, etc., to see along the way. The entire week was one¬†lane roads – all in pretty good shape. And traffic was not bad at all.
Postponing our departure from the mountains views, we stop at Dornan’s for a drink & strike up a conversation with a woman from Dover, NH!
4:30 PM – Checked into Miller Park Lodge in Jackson & discovered the best room of the week: huge room with Jacuzzi tub, plush carpet, king bed, fireplace, kitchenette & little 2nd floor deck with table & chairs! Lovely… and all for about $150. It was walking distance to restaurants & downtown. Returned the rental car, cooler & UN-used bear spray to Dollar to streamline the next morning. Called Teton Mountain Taxi for a 5 AM pick up for next day (blah!). Walked around town & in shops. Dinner at The Snake River Brewery – noisy but fun place with good meals. Sat on our room’s deck… it cooled off nicely. What a full & wonderful final day in Wyoming!

“All good things are wild and free.” ~¬† Henry David Thoreau

June 30: Taxi arrived promptly at 5 AM & our flight home left at 7:15 AM.¬† Sigh…
I already want to plan my next trip to Grant Teton & Yellowstone National Parks.

Our plane at 7 AM. Good bye to the Teton Montains!
Our plane at 7 AM.
Good bye to the Teton Montains!
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Day 7 – Trip West

“My restless, roaming spirit would not allow me to remain¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†at home for very long.”¬†¬†~ Buffalo Bill Cody

June 28:

This is our day in Cody with very little driving! Enjoyed complementary motel breakfast. The morning brings cloudless blue skies (again!) and it was going to be a hot one: highs in mid-80s. We drove through town and visited the Buffalo Bill Dam which is an historic site. Dam built in 1905-09. The Visitor Center is like a small museum Рhusband enjoyed the history & details of how they built the dam.

Next stop @ 10:30 AM – Buffalo Bill Center of The West. This is like 5 different museums in one: ¬†Firearms Museum, Museum of Plains Indians, Museum of Natural History (of the area), Western Art Museum AND Life of Buffalo Bill (William Cody). This is a huge place and of Smithsonian Museum quality. Well worth the $18 admission (which is good for 2 days). We spent 4 hours here & could have spent a bit more time. There are also some great sculptures outside. The museum’s caf√© is¬†nice – we had lunch there (good salad bar!).

Rested back at motel in late afternoon. It’s hot! Headed out @ 5 for Cody Cattle Co. – buffet dinner and music show. This is a large cavern-type open room & we arrived early.¬† Got seats front & center by stage. Buffet is bountiful, simple food but tasty. An elderly couple from Louisiana sat across picnic table from us & we had a nice chat. He is 82 & just retired! His company gave him a trip West. The show was an hour long and great fun: a family act with wife on guitar, husband on fiddle & 14 year old son on bass. Band leader on guitar also… all very talented. Sang country classics. At 7:30, we drove a short block to the Cody Rodeo. Two hours of roping calves, barrel racing, bucking broncos, bull riding & rodeo clown banter.¬† Enjoyed a beautiful Wyoming sunset during the show. It was still quite warm (upper 70s) at 10 PM, when show ended.

Cody Cattle Co. Show
Cody Cattle Co. Show
Buffalo Bill Statue @ Museum
Buffalo Bill Statue @ Museum
Cody Rodeo!
Cody Rodeo!

Day 6 – Trip West

Bison in Lamar Valley
Bison in Lamar Valley

June 27:
Quiet night. Drove through Roosevelt Arch at 6:50 AM. Bright blue, cloudless skies & in the upper 50s.   Four elk are bedded down near the Arch.
7:30 AM – turned onto road toward northeast entrance and into Lamar Valley. Large, glacier boulders are strewn through the area. We would say, “Boulder or bison?” Saw herds with many baby bison. Saw elk and deer. No wolves.¬†¬† Passed Soda Butte, a dormant cone geyser. Lamar Valley is vast & peaceful looking with sagebrush & winding rivers.

8:30 AM Рexit the park & stop at nice rest rooms @ Chamber building in Cooke City. Last of civilization before the Beartooth Highway.  Wild & fantastic scenery, dramatic drive!

Beartooth Highway vista
Beartooth Highway vista
on the Beartooth Highway
on the Beartooth Highway

The road goes up, up, up… switchbacks, cliffs & drop offs. Incredibly stunning views – pictures just can’t do it justice (but I took a lot anyway!). Turned around to return rather than going all the way to Red Lodge.
11:30 AM – Onto the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway which is another beautiful drive. Stopped for picnic lunch overlooking the Absaroka Mountain Range. It’s in the upper 70s – crazy, after being in SNOW on the Beartooth.¬† Stop at Dead Indian Hill Summit & read several historical signs about the flight of the Nez Perce Indians.

1:40 PMCody, Wyoming! Drive through town & 13 miles out to Heart Mountain Interpretive Center. Small, interesting museum that tells the story of the Heart Mountain Japanese Internment Camp during WWII. Over 10,000 Japanese-Americans shipped here from the West Coast after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Not a proud incident for the USA.

3:30 PM – checked into The Beartooth Inn (on outskirts of town on 17th Street). Huge room with fridge, coffee maker & microwave.¬† Chill in room a bit – temps now in high 80s.¬† Stroll around downtown area & watch the free¬†‘shoot out’ skit in front of the Irma Hotel.¬† Walk down a block to Adriano’s Italian Restaurant. Good dinner.

Heart Mountain
Heart Mountain
Shoot Out show in front of the Irma Hotel
Shoot Out show in front of the Irma Hotel

Day 5 – Trip West

Overlooking Swan lake
Overlooking Swan lake

June 26:

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” ~ John Muir

Up early, breakfast in room, packed up & headed north. Sunshine & 50 degrees.
Pretty drive past Yellowstone Lake again. Through Hayden Valley, bison dot the hillsides.
Everything is so green.

Once we passed the Canyon area, things became mountainous. By the time we reach Dunraven Pass, it’s overcast and views aren’t too impressive.¬† Patches of snow dot the roadside. A coyote ran off the road. This stretch of road is closed from mid-October to mid-May.

9:30 AM – Just north of a little road construction, we stopped at Tower Fall. There is also a store (coffee!) & restrooms at same parking area so it’s a multi-purpose stop. The fall is a short walk. Just a few people around.¬† We’ve put 500 miles on the rental car at this point.

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Tower Fall

Took Blacktail Plateau Drive Рa 7 mile, one-way loop on dirt road with pretty views. Saw mule deer with fawn & bison with a couple calves (reddish in color). Then took super-short hike/walk to Wraith Falls (just south of Mammoth area).

11:45 AM Рarrive in Mammoth Hot Springs area. & have lunch at Terrace Grill.  Tour through the Visitor Center and walk through historic fort area.

The area was rather crowded. We walked part of the Lower Terraces & drove the Upper Terrace Loop and stopped a few places.

Breezy, sunny & afternoon temps in the upper 60s.

Headed out of Mammoth (toward Norris) and stopped at pull out overlooking Swan Lake & had a drink sitting on tailgate & checked out some sandhill cranes in distance with binoculars.

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Marmot seen on Wraith Falls Trail
Lupines on trail to Wraith Falls
Lupines on trail to Wraith Falls
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Mammoth Hot Springs, Lower Terraces
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Roosevelt Arch, Northern Entrance
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Palette Spring, Lower Terraces

Back through congested Mammoth Village (female elk in middle of the rotary!). Drove out Northern Entrance, through Roosevelt Arch which I really loved, for some reason.¬† Entered MONTANA where we stayed one night in Gardiner at the Travel Lodge. Nice room & motel has laundry facilities. Relaxed a bit & did a load of laundry.¬† Dinner at The Raven Grill. Excellent meals. Walked from restaurant down the ‘main drag’ to the Arch where a few elk, with a baby,¬†were hanging around. Checked out a few shops.¬† Drove out of Gardiner a few miles, past Devils Slide.

Day 4 – Trip West

June 25:
Awake to another drizzle. This is our Canyon Day plus whatever else we ramble to…

It’s in the mid 40s when we leave Grant at 7:45 AM. Pretty drive along the lake and through the Hayden Valley. The valley is open with the Yellowstone River winding through it & gentle hillsides of sagebrush.¬†¬† Saw many bison and geese. Stopped for a couple bison to cross the road.

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Hayden Valley
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Brief bison jam
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Lower Falls from Artist Point – Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

The drizzle stopped just as we arrived at The Grand¬† Canyon of Yellowstone & Artist Point. Amazing views of the canyon & lower falls. Canyon walls, like other rock in the park, are yellow in hue – how the park got its name. Drove both South & North Rim drives & stopped at all overlooks, walk around, took many pictures. Don’t hike as much as planned due to wetness, chill¬†& threat of more rain.

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Upper Falls

Toured through Canyon Visitor Center Рinteresting volcano exhibit. Stopped at the Canyon store for coffee & a snack. Then head to Norris area with a detour on the 2 mile, one-way Virginia Cascades Drive. Spent over an hour at Norris Geyser Basin walking the Back Basin (1.5 mi.) loop. Wood board walks again with lots of pines around & mountain views. Prettier than some other geyser areas.

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Steamboat Geyser was quiet, North Geyser Basin
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Emerald Spring, Norris Geyer Basin

Quick visit to Museum of the National Park Ranger. Basically, this is a small, 2 room museum – small but interesting.
Drove north as far as Obsidian Cliff in search of picnic area… turned around & stopped near Norris area for¬†a quick lunch (chilly & breezy). Aided a family from Montana with a dead pick up in picnic area. Tried jumping them with no luck & gave woman a ride back to Canyon Village service station.

Drove back through Hayden Valley with herds of bison in distance. Over Fishing Bridge, drove up to Lake Butte Overlook. Great vista over the lake & hillside covered with wildflowers. Turned around back toward Fishing Bridge & saw a BEAR on bank by road! We were able to pull off the road for some good pictures. Stayed IN car.

Stopped in Lake Village and walked around. Went into Yellowstone Lake Hotel – huge lobby with large windows overlooking the lake. Had a drink, enjoyed the view & music courtesy of piano player. Hotel was built in 1890.

Drive back to Grant Village & saw a large, male elk right by the road!¬† I am a happy Yellowstone Camper!¬†¬† Dinner at Lake House Restaurant in Grant Village.¬† Not as good as Applebee’s but at least it is right on the lake so the views are nice.

Elk by the road
Elk by the road
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Bear sighting!

 

 

 

 

 

“Adopt the pace of Nature: ¬†her secret is patience.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake

Day Three – Trip West

June 24:
Up bright & early & check out of motel @ 7:15 AM.

Yellowstone National Park: here we come!
Paid $25 @ GTNP entrance – good for 7 days for both Teton & Yellowstone (yesterday was free as we entered the park so early & no one was at gate!). Received great, detailed park map & ‘newspaper’.

Drove through GTNP and saw herds of bison & black Angus cattle. Stop at a few turn outs… those mountains seem to command that more pictures be taken!

9 AM: enter Yellowstone via South Entrance & get another park map & paper.
Saw lots of newer forestation of lodge pole pines and placid Lewis Lake.

Arrive at Old Faithful Village at 10 AM. Temperature in the mid 50s & sunny. Saw Old Faithful Geyser erupt shortly after our arrival. It wasn’t crowded yet – benches around the famous geyser were just 1/2 full.¬† So much to see in this area – we spent 3+ hours here & saw Old Faithful erupt 3 times.

Old Faithful Geyser
Old Faithful Geyser
Crested Pool
Crested Pool

Walked the boardwallks all over the Upper Geyser Basin and saw so many geysers, hot springs and pools.
Toured through¬† Visitor Center & walked around Old Faithful Inn’s¬†gigantic, impressive lobby. Shopped in store & decided to have ice cream as our lunch (deli & ice cream off¬†lobby). Took our dishes up to 2nd floor deck of the Inn that overlooks Old Faithful &¬†sat on massive benches¬†& rested while people watching. Huckleberry ice cream: YUM!

1:30 PM: Drove to Mid Way Geyser Basin. Parking lot was crowded but once we got out onto boardwalk, it wasn’t crowded at all. Huge Excelsior Geyser here & fascinating Grand Prismatic Spring. I was enthralled by its colors.

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Grand Prismatic Spring – Midway Geyser Basin
Grand Prismatic Spring
Grand Prismatic Spring

Took a couple one-way drives on both Firehole Lake Drive with Great Fountain Geyser & steaming lake & Firehole Canyon Drive that had deep volcanic stone canyon & waterfalls. Then stopped at Fountain Paint Pot area & walked 1/2 mile loop. Clepsydra Geyser was putting on quite a show with lengthy eruption.

4 PM: Checked in at Grant Village. 2nd floor room with one queen bed. Highlight of room is the Kuerig coffee maker with good coffee & stoneware mugs. Rest of room features are ‘blah’. Our window overlooks parking lot. No TV (in any park lodging). We took a short path from building to Yellowstone Lake but a light drizzle started so we returned to have a picnic dinner in our room.

Decided to check out Grant Visitor Center but DROVE there as it was hailing when we came out of building! Saw great, short movie on the Park’s wildfires of 1988. Interesting policies around fires in park – generally let nature take its course. 1988’s fire covered about 36% of the park’s¬† 2.2 million acres. After the movie, the rain had stopped so we went to West Thumb Geyser Basin which lies right on the edge of Yellowstone Lake. Walked the short loop there. Long, geyser-filled, day!

“How fiercely, devoutly wild is Nature in the midst of her beauty-loving tenderness.”¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ~ John Muir

Day Two – Trip West

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Inside chapel – view from window!
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Chapel Of The Transfiguration, GTNP

June 23:

Received this quote in my email, via daily quotes from “Good Reads”, just 2 days before our trip:

“The earth was overwhelmed with beauty and indifferent to it, and I went with a heart ready to crack for its unbearable loveliness.”¬† – Josephine Winslow Johnson

WOW!  How amazingly appropriate for this trip to these two national parks!

Woke up at 4:30 AM… 6:30 for us Pennsylvania travelers. But we got an early start to the day and we were in the car at 6:40 AM to explore Grand Teton National Park. ¬†Had our cooler packed for lunch and our backpack stocked for hiking. It was just below 40 when we left the motel but the skies were a cloudless, brilliant blue.

Our first stop in the park was at The Chapel of The Transfiguration: a small, one room chapel with the magnificent Teton range as a backdrop. The chapel was open & we sat, prayed and looked out the window behind the alter at the mountains – some of God’s finest work!¬† Walked to Menor’s ferry down on the river…¬† we were the only souls around EXCEPT for the Mama Moose & her baby¬†we saw run through the parking lot as we were about to leave.¬† Also saw a fat chipmunk and a western squirrel (pika?) here.

Next stop: Jenny Lake & boat shuttle. We caught the 1st shuttle of the day¬†across the lake at 8 AM.¬† The boat ride was about 10 minutes long & we began our hike to Hidden Falls & Inspiration Point (around 2 miles round trip). Amazing views at every turn:¬† a stream with rocks & rapids, mountains, wildflowers, the lake & the falls. Can’t walk & look up though…trail full of loose rocks/stones. Saw a mule deer right on the path.¬† Great hike!

Inspiration Point, overlooking Jenny lake
Inspiration Point, overlooking Jenny lake
Jenny lake

We returned on the boat & stopped by the small Visitor Center & store Рneeded more coffee! Drove the one-way road around lake & then up to Signal Mountain Summit. Walked around a couple areas there & returned to main road.  Found a great picnic area overlooking Jackson Lake. We were in short sleeves at this point Рwhat a gorgeous day!

Turned around at Jackson Lodge area & headed down the other ‘main’ road in park: Route 191. This road is very flat at the base of high mountains.¬† Got up close with two bison as they sauntered through an opening in a¬†fence¬†and ambled across the road. Huge creatures.

Bison

Turned onto Antelope Flats Road and saw MANY more bison, Moulton Barn, Morman Row (old, empty homes of early Morman settlers). Thanks to folks with scopes, saw a COYOTE near a barn … he was slinking around horses & was quite close to them. The horses seemed unconcerned.

Stopped at 3 PM @ Dornan’s for a drink. Kinda early for ‘Happy Hour’ but, hey, when you get up before 5 AM…!¬† Great view of the Tetons from the 2nd floor deck. In the low 70s.

View from Dornan's deck
View from Dornan’s deck

Back to motel & then drove about 7 miles to Teton Village, the ski resort area. Ate on the porch of The Mangy Moose. Walked around after dinner.