5. Five National Parks…Montana, Canada, Wyoming & Colorado 8.2011

Saturday 8.6....Yellowstone National Park....well, almost

We arrived in Bozeman around 9am this morning....I was really excited to see what this town is like.  This is a town that reminds me of Crested Butte...lots of community, people are really active & love the outdoors, it’s kind of wacky....anyway, as our waitress told us “People come here to visit...& then never really leave”....it seemed like that kind of place

We scored big for our first visit to Bozeman...found a parking spot right away...even though today was the big parade downtown celebrating the “Sweet Pea Festival” & it seemed like the whole town had turned out for it & was really excited...right before the parade began, we chose “Nova” cafe to eat breakfast at...you could just tell it was the perfect cafe....good, fresh food but kind of a funky place too...& to top it off, we got an outside table...right along the parade route...& the food was delicious!  We strolled around town, checking it out for a little while, stretching our legs getting ready for the final push to the park

I would definitely come back to this town!...but on to Yellowstone...well sort of…

We’d decided we’d “bite the bullet” & add a bunch of miles onto to our trip & take sometime to drive the scenic “Beartooth Highway”.  The way we went, you actually go through Yellowstone first (the north entrance) to get the highway.  The road is about 60 miles long...the first 20 or so were just ok...(I kept making smart ass comments about if Charles Kuralt, the guy who named this road “one of the most scenic in North America”, had ever been on Trailridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park...but, I ate my words as the road twisted & climbed & twisted & climbed, higher & higher....and the views got spectacular!

It was fairly late in the afternoon when got to the turn around point then back to the top, & an afternoon storm blew in ...big time.  So we just stayed up on top, sat in the car, ate some dinner & waited it out....then, at dusk, started the long, long drive down.  The bottom right pic was of a fox darting across the road while we were driving

By the time we were done with the drive, it was pitch black out...not fun to drive when you know there are buffalo, elk, moose, bear & everything smaller possibly running in the road...so we pulled over to roadside spot, popped the seats back & tucked in for the night


Sunday 8.7....Yellowstone National Park

So, here’s the scoop on camping in Yellowstone...1/2 the campgrounds are run by an outside agency...these sites can be reserved & are more expensive but sometimes there are openings if you check with THEM first thing in the morning...the other 1/2 of the campgrounds are run by the NPS...a little more primitive & these are the ones Danny & I prefer....they are all first come first serve...so the stalking/being stalked continues for a campsite

We’d knew which campground we were headed for, got there early & got a spot for two nights

Here’s the thing about Yellowstone National Park....it’s our country’s first national park...a wonderful place to visit....there’s lots to see; however, not a lot of hiking to do.  There is some backcountry hiking, but you deal with the crazy permit system, but there’s not much day hiking...there’s not the big mountains there are like in Glacier, Teton or Rocky Mountain....but here’s what the parks full of.... people...thousands of them

cars, motorcycles, & RV’s...thousands of them

attractions....lots of really beautiful sites to see & some prehistoric looking things

roadside animal groups...every time any animal is somewhere near the side of the road, so are about 50 cars & people

We’d found one big 10 mile - lots of elevation hike to take but while talking to the ranger about it, the skies started to turn black....the ranger looked up & said, “don’t think I’d be going on that hike today”...& we felt the same way....so we didn’t

So, we had to change our “daily hiking & big mountain views” to a lot of driving...stop...get out...tour the attraction & take photos...get back in the car & do it all over again

You probably think we didn’t like this...& some of it we didn’t, but a lot of it was really, really beautiful!  We knew we couldn’t do it for more than a couple of days, but don’t under estimate the beauty & uniqueness of Yellowstone...everyone should see it at least once

The storm held off for awhile, the sky would just look threatening from time to time...by dinner time, we’d driven out to Lamar Valley...a good spot to see wolves.  We backed in our car, fired up the backpacking stove, cooked dinner & wolf-watched...we didn’t see anything....so, after a couple of hours, we moved on to a high place, just below the pass, looking over a valley ....supposedly a good place to view grizzlies.  We’d been there about 30 minutes, when the threatening sky did more than threaten....& things got ugly as we were high, on top of the pass in Yellowstone

The hail came down in buckets....the road looked like it had been graveled in hail...everyone just crawled along as we wound our way down the pass.  As we got lower, the weather got better.  The temps dropped quite a bit & we put on our fleece’s & rain jackets.  As we drove the long way back to our camp, it hadn’t even rained where our tent was.  It was late, so we crashed in the tent & looked forward to another day tomorrow


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