After nearly 16 hours on the road since we left our hotel in Belgrade, Montana, we finally reached our hotel for tonight’s stay in Coalville, Utah. During today’s adventure, we visited four different states and two national parks. All this as a side trip on our way to the 2013 FJ Summit in Ouray, Colorado.
We were on the road this morning by 6:00 AM. From Belgrade to West Yellowstone, it’s approximately 90 miles of beautiful country. This put us at the West entrance of Yellowstone at a good time, however, there were already a lot people there ahead of us.
At our first stop along Madison River, we had a bull bison walk by about 20 feet from the vehicle (while I was outside taking landscape photos), then a herd of cow elk with several calves immediately after that. That was our wildlife viewing for the entire time in Yellowstone.
“Fountain Paint Pot, Yellowstone NP, 2013″
After our wildlife experience, we stopped at several of the geyser viewing spots including Old Faithful. We arrived immediately after the show and because of the summer crowds, we decided to drive on after eating lunch and purchasing a few post cards for my daughter.
From Old Faithful, we drove up the West shoreline of Yellowstone Lake to the Lake Lodge. After driving to the Lake Lodge and heading back South, it started raining pretty hard on us.
While driving towards the South entrance, the road starts to follow the headwaters of the scenic Snake River.
The elevation descends over a 1000 feet as the road leaves Yellowstone National Park. A short distance after leaving Yellowstone, we entered the Grand Tetons National Park. First, the peaks are visible across a large lake, and then, as you travel South, you get very close and have some great views.
Once we left the Grand Tetons National Park, we saw a bull moose along the Snake River as we drove over the bridge (of course there was no place to pull off, especially with a line of cars behind us).
Once back on the main highway, we drove straight through the resort/tourist town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming without any stops (too crowded for us).
Once we left Jackson Hole, we followed the signs to Salt Lake City, which led us in and out of Idaho and Wyoming, under dark, cloudy skies (with rain and lightening) until we reached Evanston, Wyoming.
From Evanston, we headed West on I-80 to our night’s destination at Coalville, Utah.
It was a long day with many miles on the road. It has been over 40 years since I had been to Yellowstone and the first time for my son. Even though we only had time for a quick drive through, this was a great overview of the West and South part of the park. I would love to come back on a trip during September or October (once the crowds are less) and spend some quality time.
Tomorrow (Wednesday), we have about 8 hours of driving to reach our hotel in Ouray, Colorado. Of course, with all the potential scenic distractions along the way, we’ll have to add several hours to our trip.