Day 65 (8/4/14): Missoula, MT | Dubois, WY
We left Montana this morning and started driving to Wyoming, passing the Madison River on the way. Our route took us through Yellowstone National Park, which begins right on the border of Wyoming. To my dismay, there was no “Welcome to Wyoming” sign to welcome us as we crossed the state line shortly after entering the park. Boo! 😦
The entrance fee for Yellowstone was $25 at the time we were there, which was good for one week and also included Grand Teton National Park. The park pass worked out well because we also had to drive through Grand Teton and planned on returning later to enjoy the parks more. They were both easy to drive through with a truck towing a 35-foot travel trailer, and Yellowstone had many large turn-outs. Consider a National Park RV Rental to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks!
We had a long drive from Montana to our campground in Dubois, WY though, so we wanted to go back to Yellowstone on another day without our RV (i.e. home-on-wheels) to spend more time there and truly be able to appreciate the park. After driving through Yellowstone and exiting Grand Teton National Park (the two parks are connected), the scenic landscape we passed was a preview for the parks without the entrance fee.
As we continued driving, we discovered that Wyoming has a diverse landscape. It seems like one minute, it’s green and densely forested, and the next, it’s desert with red and white striped hills. We settled down in a little RV campground right on the Wind River. Lucky for us, one of our neighbors requested to switch sites with us due to us having a massive site and them having an enormous Class A Motorhome and trailer. We gladly obliged since their site was directly across from the river, giving us a lovely view from our trailer.
Day 66 (8/5/14): Dubois, WY
We took a step back to the dark ages at this campground as far as technology goes. We had planned on using this day to book several of our next campgrounds in advance. However, when we went to call them to make reservations, we discovered that we had zero cell phone reception. Go figure. We try to actually plan ahead for once but can’t. We made the most of the situation though with me working on the blog and Justin cleaning the truck and trailer.
Later in the day, we drove into nearby Dubois, a quirky little Western town with antler sculptures and animal statues. Justin particularly liked the giant jackalope at the gas station and the over-sized skull (complete with horns) at the local laundromat. We grabbed a late lunch at the Cowboy Cafe. Justin LOVED their Swiss-Mushroom Chicken Fried Steak and hasn’t stopped talking about it since. Sauteed mushrooms, white country gravy, and an inch-thick steak fried to perfection – Justin was one happy camper. 🙂
Day 67 (8/6/14): Yellowstone National Park
We were on the road by 7:00am and reached Yellowstone National Park by 8:30am. We had strategically planned our visit to Yellowstone the night before to make sure we saw every point of interest we wanted to see. We entered the park through the south entrance, and our first stop was Lewis Falls. The decent size waterfall increased our excitement for the Upper and Lower Falls of the upcoming Grand Canyon. As we continued driving, we came across some wild elk!
Next, we visited Mud Volcano and Dragon’s Mouth where we saw a wild bison! As we were walking up to the hydrothermal features, we spotted the bison coming down a hill. Before we knew it, the bison had made his way down and started walking through the parking lot below. It was a crazy sight to see a wild animal (and a large one at that) strolling through the vehicles.
He continued through the parking lot back into the land surrounding the points of interest. Ironically, rather than walking on the grass surrounding both sides of the asphalt path leading from the parking lot, the bison took the paved path instead. We thought he was long gone. However, as we walked along the boardwalk, the bison made another appearance and actually crossed over the boardwalk directly in front of us!
After the surreal distraction of being so close to the bison, we finally saw what we had stopped to see in the first place. Mud Volcano was a gurgling pool of mud with ribbons of silver swirling around the bubbles. It reminded Justin of a soupy, chocolate milkshake. However, if you see it in the winter, it’s thicker and would probably more closely resemble an actual milkshake.
Next, we viewed Dragon’s Mouth with steam spewing from its opening. It literally sounded like a dragon burping from acid reflux and smelled like it as well due to the sulfur.
From Dragon’s Mouth, we made our way over to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park where we viewed the Upper and Lower Falls. The further up you go, the better the view gets at Artist Point. We also went to the Brink of the Upper Falls. From the top, you look down at the 109-feet tall waterfall. Being that close to the falls, the roaring sound of the water is almost deafening as it crashes below.
After gazing at the waterfall cutting through the canyon, we kept driving through Yellowstone and saw countless pillars of steam rising from the earth’s surface along the way.
Stopping at the Lower Geyser Basin, we took the Fountain Paint Pot Trail where we enjoyed seeing the aqua blue Silex Spring, the muddy Paint Pots, Red Spouter, the bubbling fumarole, and the active Spasm Geyser.
Next, at the Midway Geyser Basin, we loved the hot springs running into a stream below the boardwalk trail. We also saw the thermal spring of Excelsior Geyser with it’s churning water as well as the Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in Yellowstone.
We continued on to the colorful Biscuit Basin, our favorite of the geyser basins. The crystal-clear, intensely blue water of the Sapphire Pool was out-of-this-world! Jewel Geyser was also fun to see as it erupted when we walked by.
No trip to Yellowstone would be complete though without seeing Old Faithful, so that’s where we decided to finish up our tour of the national park. We hunkered down on a bench with the rest of the people encircling the geyser waiting for it to erupt. After gazing at Old Faithful for about half an hour, we finally saw it blow!
We had originally thought we could see Yellowstone and Jackson Hole, WY in one day, but that didn’t work out. We ended up spending the entire rainy day in Yellowstone as there was so much to stop to see. There are fascinating geothermal features everywhere! Even with a whole day in the park, we didn’t get to see everything. I can definitely understand why people camp there for multiple days.
Day 68 (8/7/14): Grand Teton National Park | Jackson Hole, WY
Since we didn’t get to visit Jackson Hole, WY yesterday as we had originally planned, we used today to see it. On the way there, we drove through Grand Teton National Park again and were treated to an amazing view of the impressive mountain range.
Once we reached Jackson, we walked around the Town Square. Each corner of the square has an arch made entirely of antlers adding to the charm of the town. I would describe Jackson as an upscale Western town complete with horse-drawn stagecoach rides.
After strolling past the shops and grabbing lunch, we headed about 32 miles southeast of Jackson to Granite Hot Springs in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Justin used to camp with his family near the hot springs when he was a boy and had been wanting to take me to the nostalgic spot.
We took route 191 south for 12 miles to the Hoback Junction where we turned left. We then drove another 10 miles or so before we made another left at Granite Hot Springs Road. It was a dirt road that lasted about 10 miles before we finally reached the hot springs.
It’s actually a large man-made pool fed by a hot spring. The pool gets to be 8 feet deep and has a small seating area where the water comes in from the mountain. The water is quite warm, making you feel like you’re swimming in a massive bathtub. As we were soaking in the hot springs, it started raining.
It’s rained pretty much every day we’ve been in Wyoming, but we didn’t mind. We like the rain and enjoyed it’s refreshing droplets, especially while we were in the warm water. As we were driving back to our campground in Dubois, it continued raining. At one point though, the temperature dropped to 42 degrees Fahrenheit, and there was snow on the ground! In August! As pretty as northwest Wyoming was, I wouldn’t be able to handle it’s winters, especially if it snows in the summer!