April 2017 Riverdale, Salt Lake City to Alpine, Near Jackson 229 miles
The day started cloudy and we headed north on Hwy 89 and the weather got decidedly worse as the clouds closed in and we started to have snow showers! Started going up Logans Canyon and miraculously the snow stopped and visibility improved! We followed the Canyon, alongside Logans River until we reached the snow covered summit! Fortunately the roads were clear!! Stopped at the highest point for a view over Bear Lake but it was still too misty!
Strictly speaking Bear Lake is in two States – Utah and Idaho, but its also close to the Wyoming Border which we will be zig-zagging over the next few days!! Got to Bear Lake, watched the pelicans flying and swimming about (I didn’t know they could tolerate cold weather!) and made a quick visit to the Marina. The lake was a lovely turquoise colour, even in this weather so it must be amazing with a blue sky.
Picked up the Oregan to California trail that starts at Bear Lake – the trail includes many old wooden buildings, an old Tabernacle built in 1884 at Paris
and a story of Butch Cassidy robbing a bank in 1896 at Montpelier. Went on to Soda Springs where there was the worlds only captive geyser – it goes off on the hour, every hour!! Also visited Hooper Spring where the carbonated drinking water bubbles out of the ground! It used to be exported world wide as the first sparkling water.
Also went into the Enders Hotel, a fabulous old hotel, where there is a restaurant and a second floor turned into a museum. It still operates as a hotel as well, with loads of stuffed animals in the reception area, and it would have been a brilliant place to stay – bit early for us!
Took to Hwy 34 out of Soda Springs, which is also the Pioneers Byway, passing various landmarks (all pretty boring apart from a flock of pelicans flying over head!!) Plenty of melting snow around that created loads of flooding to the fields and we were lucky enough to see two Sandhill Cranes doing a mating dance together. Stopped at Tincup Creek, so called as one story suggests that a young girl was kidnapped by Indians, and the only thing they wanted in
exchange to trade her back was a tin cup!
Decided to stop the night at Alpine because there was a heavy snow shower. Later the sun came out beautifully again!! ( Bull Moose Lodge & Saloon)
April 2017 Alpine to Jackson – Grand Teton NP 171 miles
What a difference a day makes!! Woke up to blue sky and sun and suddenly the whole world looks different. Drove from Alpine to Jackson, following the Snake River and saw a creature , identified by the Visitor Centre in Jackson as a marmot!
Drove towards the Grand Teton NP with snowy mountains all around! It was so beautiful that I couldn’t stop taking photographs!! Stopped at various view points for photos, went to the Chapel of Sacred Heart and then drove out to the South Entrance to Yellowstone which we knew was shut!
We were unable to drive to Jenny Lake as the road was still shut but we drove a few miles each way on the road! BUT the most exciting thing ever is that we have seen Bears! Grizzly Bears! Saw them three times - we think it was
just two bears and they were quiet a distance away but we have seen them!!! The Park wasn’t that busy so when we saw a group of people with long lens cameras out on tripods we guessed that must mean bears!!
Drove up the other end of the closed road and were stopped by a flashing Rangers Car – they said that Chris had been speeding and didn’t slow down further at the 15mph sign either. A hairy few minutes where we had to sit in the car while they took Chris’ passport and Driving Licence. Fortunately they let us off with a caution! Whew! We then made a decision to walk to Taggart Lake (as against walking to Jenny lake) which was only about 1.6 miles away (3.2 miles return!) What we didn’t realise as we started off was that the trail turned first to slush and then deep snow – it was when we saw six cross-country skiers coming the other way that we questioned our decision!!
Anyway, we got to the lake in about an hour, and took some lovely clear shots of the peaks and the lake. Walked back down only to find that
there were a couple of moose blocking the trail! Fortunately some other people arrived, who knew that Moose “could be mean and charge sometimes”. They didn’t seem at all phased, and just worked their way around them (This involved walking in deep snow, crossing a river and scrambling back up to the track again!!) We just followed them!!
Had a wander around Jackson for an hour or so, including the Town Square with its 4 Elk Antler arches made entirely of thousands of antlers. Then had a delicious Thai meal before driving back to the motel. (Motel 6)
April 2017 Jackson to Western Yellowstone 193 miles
It was supposed to be raining today but we awoke to cloudy skies and sun! Freezing cold though! Leisurely start to the day and on the road by 9.00am looking for Big Horned Sheep. We found them quite easily (thanks to the Visitors Centres advice!) and watched the males fighting for a while. Turned right at Gros Ventre Junction, looking for Elk. Saw plenty but they were always in the distance! Saw quite a few deer at Kelly just crossing the road and went down to an abandoned
Mormon Village, where the travellers had first settled.
Went along the Hwy 22 and up and over the Teton Pass, where they were still snowboarding and ski-ing at the top in the deep snow and then drove along the Teton Valley with its history of Mormon Settlers. It was pretty boring scenery as we passed into Idaho again – just vast plans of agriculture. Went on Hwy 47, just before Ashton and had a quick peer at the Lower Mesa Falls before parking up and walking down to the Higher Mesa Falls that was equally impressive.
Drove on towards West Yellowstone and as we drove near Island Park we spotted a coyote just crossing the road and two moose feeding in the river! Brilliant! (Yellowstone Self Catering Lodging)
Monday 1sy May 2017 Yellowstone 125 miles
Weather still holding up which is brilliant seeing as a lot of USA suffering with storms, floods and tornados! It is still freezing cold though – thermals, hats, gloves, scarves!!! Went into Yellowstone about 8.00am and saw almost immediately saw Moose and Bison on the plain! It wasn’t until later that I tried to take a photo….and realised my
battery was back in the Lodge! Uh oh! Had to go back about 20 miles and nearly ran over a Bison that was in the middle of the road!! We re-entered the Park about 9.15am and made our way to Old Faithful!
Old Faithful is a cone geyser that was named in 1870, and it erupts every 1 ½ hrs give or take 10 minutes! We got there at 10.30am just as it had finished erupting so we had to wait until 12.00am for the next eruption! This gave us plenty of time to walk around the board walk and we were lucky enough to also see the Anemone Geyser erupting.
A lot of the trails/hikes have been closed due to the bears, (who are just coming out of hibernation), so a lot of our walking had to be done on the board walks – still managed to clock up nearly 10miles though!!
Watched Old Faithful (fortunately he was early!!) and then drove to all the other geyser basins and did the board walks and looked at the geothermal activity! Mud bubbling, springs bubbling, geysers spouting, steam everywhere!! We were able to have a longer walk at
the Norris Geyser basin as we could walk the Back Basin and the Porcelain Basin! Saw the Steamboat Geyser which is the Worlds tallest active geyser throwing water more than 300ft high! The last major eruption was September 2014, so we contented ourselves with its common 10-40ft burst of water!
Had a quick peer at the Gibbon Falls which were in full spate due to the melting of the snow.
That was about it! No Bears! Hopefully, maybe tomorrow! (Yellowstone Self Catering Lodging)
May 2017 Yellowstone to Livingston 195 miles
The rain that keeps threatening is still holding off although it did try to snow today and we had more cloud than sun! On the road by 8.30am and drove over to Canyon Village not expecting anything to be open as we knew the road north to Tower Roosevelt and south to Lake Village were still both shut by snow.
Boy, we were in for a little treat!! Followed roads that weren’t closed and ended up crossing the bridge over the Yellowstone River and ended up in an empty carpark ( well apart from 8’ snow drifts!!) saying Artist Point. Followed
a footpath and were quite wowed by a spectacular view of a waterfall (308ft) going into the Yellowstone Canyon – with the snow covering parts of the top of the Canyon it was beautiful! The canyon is 20 miles long and parts of the Canyon are 1200 ft deep.
Onwards to a viewpoint of the Upper Falls – unfortunately they hadn’t cleared the snow here so it was a case of clambering over about 4’ of snow to get the view!!
Drove back to Norris and then northwards towards Mammoth Hot Springs passing Nymph Lake and Roaring Mountain – a thermally active mountain that is spouting steam and I am sure there must be geysers there that roar when they are about to erupt! I’m guessing!!
Went down through another gorge until we reached Mammoth Hot Springs where we walked the Upper and Lower Board Walks and did the scenic drive! It was a bit like Pammukale in Turkey with its ice blue, shell shaped pools terraced down, dripping and spouting hot water creating white and orange streams and pools. Its very pretty! Most of the terraces are now dormant and grey in colour – there is
only odd sections that are still active – shame really – I expect that they were spectacular when they were all coloured!
We called into the Visitor Centre at Mammoth Hot Springs to find out the best place to spot wildlife along the Lamar valley and optimistically set off! We weren’t disappointed! Loads of bison with their orange-red babies, prairie dog, antelope, AND a black bear! Apparentely there was a mother black bear with two small cubs but I didn’t have time or patience to stand around in the cold for a good photo! Could see her moving around behind the trees but not too clearly! Onwards!!
Left the National Park by the Northern Entrance, after driving down yet another gorge surrounded by snowy mountains! The scenery is all so stunning! What I didn’t realise is that Yellowstone is really a crater inside a volcano – a caldera with geothermal vents – it really is an amazing place! And as we reached the northern entrance at Gardiner there was a herd of elk! So I could tick them off my list as well! Drove uneventfully to Livingston, Montana. (Econolodge)
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