Wyoming and Montana, but not yet Glacier

Hopefully you are checking out the map on our homepage from time to time. Each time we go to a new place, Bob “drops a pin” on the map to show where we are.  Usually he includes a photo of the place that you can see if you click on the pin. The map shows each stop on our journey, but it also shows how it is possible to follow the weather to achieve a long summer.  Our weather throughout this trip has been fabulous!

Since Bob’s “O Colorado” blog, we’ve been in Wyoming and Montana, and arrived this week in Idaho for the eclipse. Here’s a brief rundown on our adventures:

Wyoming’s Wind River Range. On July 12 we left Steamboat Springs, Colorado, for Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains, recommended by our friend Matt O. We debated whether to camp near Lander on the east side of the range or Pinedale on the west, having heard glowing reports about both. The Wind River Range is spectacular, so basically you can’t go wrong.  We chose the west side because we thought the camping options were better and because it positioned us nicely for our next move to Grand Teton National Park.  We camped 4 days in a small US Forest Service campground on Half Moon Lake, kayaking, hiking, meeting great folks by the lake and on the trail and enjoying peace and quiet until the weekend jet-skiers arrived (alas!). We took a beautiful but mosquito-infested hike to Photographer’s Point—possibly our fastest hike ever, since we were swarmed the entire time.  After that, we bought head nets and more powerful bug spray.  Since then, however, we have not encountered such a feisty mob, so we haven’t used them.

Grand Teton National Park.  So beautiful and cleansing to the soul. We stayed a week and didn’t want to leave. We loved:  Hikes into the canyons and along the lakes, kayaking the lakes and the Snake River, the majestic mountain views, the prolific wildflowers, Jenny Lake Campground (tents only!), and the beautiful nearby Laurence Rockefeller Preserve. We scored the last campsite at Jenny Lake on a Sunday at 8am—whew!   It had splendid mountain views and was close enough that we could portage our kayaks to the lake or take the paved bike trail to trailheads. Perfect! We would have stayed longer in the campground, but there was a seven-day limit. Nearby Jackson Hole seems fun, but we loved the park so much we only did laundry there. ? We enjoyed an outdoor sunset dinner one night on the patio at the lodge on Jackson Lake—do it! We met Jack and Scott from Seattle and hope to reconnect with them in September to hear about Scott’s epic Yellowstone-to-Jasper bike ride.

Yellowstone. Teton and Yellowstone are almost adjacent to each other, but they are very different scenes.  Yellowstone was the world’s first national park, declared by Ulysses S. Grant 30 years before Teddy Roosevelt gave the national park system a real boost, and is a major attraction because of the geothermal activity, as well as the herds of bison and other wildlife.  It lacks the dramatic mountains of the Tetons and has a much subtler beauty. We camped at Lewis Lake for a few days, the first campground after entering Yellowstone from Grand Teton. That southern end of the park is heavily forested; it’s beautiful, but lacking in views. We drove farther into the park each day to visit the geysers and other geothermal features, which was fun. Got to do Old Faithful, right? But wow, so many people, so much driving, and packed-to-capacity parking lots along the way.  I’ll never forget the stoic bison plodding down the middle of the road, stopping traffic in both directions. We felt sad. In Yellowstone, for the first time, I was practically hyperventilating and questioning the underlying national parks focus of our trip. Yellowstone is crowded, and it’s huge. Although there are 1,000 miles of hiking trails, the park seems primarily set up as a driving tour, which we’re not used to.  Mostly we get to our campsite and prefer not to drive at all.  But we did see amazing wildflower fields, and took a great hike along Hellroaring Creek. The Lamar Valley is gorgeous.  We enjoyed learning about the volcanic activity and the caldera that formed the landscape and is still a prominent feature. Also about the impact of fire over the years and the Park Service’s change in policy towards fire over 30 years ago. I’m glad we went and experienced it all, but I admit I breathed a sigh of relief when we left.

Cooke City. We stayed a night in Cooke City, the northeastern gateway to Yellowstone. It’s a tiny, funky place (we’ve heard that the locals call it “Kook City”), and we had good beers and burgers there. We would have preferred to camp instead in nearby National Forest campgrounds, but there is a ban on tent camping in effect since a tragic bear attack in 2011, and we weren’t quite ready to sleep in the back of our truck instead of our tent.

Beartooth Mountains. The drive from Cooke City to Red Lodge, MT, (ßsuper nice town!) along the Beartooth Highway is spectacular. Do it!  We then camped next to an incredibly noisy creek in the Beartooth National Forest for a few nights, and hiked up to some beautiful mountain lakes. We could definitely spend more time in the Beartooth. The mountains and lakes are gorgeous, with lots of great hikes.

Bozeman. Our friends Jeannie, Chris, and Calvin live in Bozeman and we were so happy to be able to stay with them for two nights. Jeannie and I used to work together, but mostly I think of her as a really special friend and amazing human being and one of the funniest people I know.  We laughed a lot! It was so nice to get to know her husband Chris better, as well as their son Calvin, who is almost 10 now (last time we met him he was a few month’s old). It was so fun to reconnect.  We all went to dinner at the Blackbird Kitchen, where our friend Kenan is the head chef.  Wow—what an amazing meal!!! Kenan is extremely talented and we were all wowed by the experience.  Go Kenan!!! Anyone: if you are in Bozeman, Montana, make a reservation for the Blackbird Kitchen.  It is really fabulous!

After Bozeman, we drove on to Glacier National Park, where we stayed for two happy weeks. Glacier will get its own blog.   Stay tuned! ?

2 thoughts on “Wyoming and Montana, but not yet Glacier”

  1. As we speak on the phone I am gloriously happy that you 2 decided to follow our foot steps, although yours are more definately longer and more into the parks and hoofing them and that’s great! This blog, as usual, is beautiful. Lor, you ned to write a book on it all once settled at home although I guess all you’ll need to do is take oit all off your blogs. You write beautifully.
    Enjoy your great view of the eclupse and will talk more later. Love you guys, MOM

  2. We visited Grand Teton and Yellowstone in 1992. Grand Teton is probably the most beautiful NP of all. The effects of Yellowstone fire were still vivid in ’92. It is an amazing NP but its sheer size makes it a drive thru exploration. We saw more wildlife in Yellowstone than all of the other parks combined. The geothermal features make it otherworldly. Glacier is still on our list of places to visit.

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