Numerous stories, articles and books have been written about Yellowstone National Park since the 19th Century when it was initially discovered by Western explorers. My attempt to add to the prodigious volumes available will hardly alter history, but hopefully will engage the imaginations of a few so that they may venture to the Northwest corner of Wyoming to see this spectacular land for themselves.
Yesterday, Tuesday August 9th, we left Sheridan, Wyoming and backtracked south after a few locals told us crossing the Big Horn Mountains further south from Buffalo was a safer trip then the northern option into Cody, Wyoming from Sheridan due to rock slides. With Leslie at the helm we climbed to over 9,000 feet before dropping down the western slope following Ten Sleeps Creek into the town of Ten Sleeps. Crossing through the ever changing landscape we had an interesting stop.
As mentioned in a previous post every highway we have been on seems to having work done, on the 16 West somewhere between Ten Sleeps and Cody the road was down to one lane so we had to stop and wait for the escort car to bring cars from the other direction and then lead us about eight miles down the road. While we were waiting the flag lady, Linda, came to our car and gave us and the kids a history lesson on Wyoming. We learned about dinosaurs and betonite, the local mineral that is only in Wyoming and is a major revenue source for the state along with the oil and natural gas from the dinosaurs.
Typical for our travels through Wyoming we encountered several storms off and on and beautiful scenery from mountains to plains to moon-scapes.
Around 3:30 we reached our destination West of Cody, the Green Creek Inn & RV Park in Wapiti (WAH-peh-tee). Inquiring from the owner about the possibility of jumping into Yellowstone to see some of the sites to shorten our day on Wednesday. He was pushing us driving back to Cody, about forty minutes, to go to an all you can eat Cowboy Dinner then the Rodeo for about $200 for the family. We said, thanks for the advice, we drove west for about forty minutes to Yellowstone. For a one week pass for the car it was $25, an annual pass is only $50. The ranger told us it got dark about 9:00 and it was about one and a half hours to drive the approximately 60 miles to Old Faithful. It was 4:30 local time and we decided to head to Old Faithful.
Here is where I will avoid detailed description and merely say that Yellowstone is proof of Divine Creation. It is so spectacular, so beautiful, so ever changing from the forests that have new growth following the fires of several years ago, to the steam coming from the ground, to the rivers, creeks and lakes, that only a Master Plan could conceive of such terrain, geology and geography.
We made it to Old Faithful about 6:45 and learned that the legendary geyser had gone off about an hour before. Since Old Faithful is due to spew every ninety minutes or so we were on time to see it around 7:15. Thankfully there was a cafeteria right there since it was beginning to rain, the wind picked up and the temperature had dropped to the mid-fifties….we were in shorts and light jackets.
After a dinner the kids devoured we stood on the porch and waited for the show. After a few false alarms Old Faithful blew for over three minutes around 7:30. Looking at the dark skies, and the approaching nightfall, we hustled back to the car for the drive back to the East Entrance to the park and then to our beds for the night.
Driving through Yellowstone is somewhat challenging for several reasons. One is the slower pace. Two is the vigilance on the road while trying not to be distracted by the scenario to make sure you don’t hit a bear or an Elk. Three are the other drivers, many of whom are determined to stop with no notice because they saw a chipmunk and need to take videos and pictures. Add rain and dropping sunlight and the drive is not the easiest we have undertaken.
We hit the gate around 9:00, our room around 9:45 and beds by 10:00. A long day, a wonderful day.
This morning we were up early to catch the incredible Continental Breakfast array at the Green Creek Inn (bread, packaged muffins, a toaster, stale coffee that was somehow just brewed) at 7:30 and headed back to Yellowstone. We left the Inn at 8:00 and drove all day through Yellowstone, going up to the Northern edge then back down the Western side of the park. We stopped several times to walk to see falls, hot springs, or other sites. The weather was spectacular, exceeded however by the vistas from each turn.
Yellowstone is not easy to get to, you can’t just fly in. If it were easy to get to it would be too crowded, as it is there are plenty of visitors. While it is not easy to get to, get to it you must. We spent about eleven hours in the park yesterday and today and we barely scratched the surface. As Leslie said, “We are doing a Taster.” Our next trip to Yellowstone will be for several days. We will try to get reservations at one of the many lodges in the park, otherwise find lodging outside the Western or Northern Entrances.
We learned that every area of the huge park is different, and we look forward to our return to explore each of them more thoroughly.
As for what we saw, Jenna’s favorite was a bear cub, Blaire’s was the bison, Leslie’s was the bison and a sulfur springs area where a very large mound the shape of a baked potato had been formed from the spring under it. As for me, my favorite sights were first from Tuesday evening on the drive back from Old Faithful when the twilight was almost gone, storm clouds were gathered on the mountain ringing Yellowstone Lake and an almost full moon was glisten on the calm water. Tied for favorite site was seeing a bald eagle soaring down the canyon of the Yellowstone River below us as we stood on the rim.
As for you, make your plans to get to Northwestern Wyoming and visit this incredible national treasure endowed to us by our Creator along with certain inalienable rights.
Our pictures today are Yellowstone Lake, Old Faithful taken by Jenna, Bison roadside, and the Upperfalls of the Yellowstone River where I saw the eagle.