After leaving Salem Sue in New Salem, ND we decided Yellowstone was reachable. Just a few hundred miles west on I-94 to exit 434 and a left on US 212. Simple. Red Lodge MT is a wonderful town and gateway to the NE entrance to Mother Nature showing off, AKA Scenic Hwy 212 to Yellowstone. When we got to Red Lodge, Darin decided he needed a new pair of shoes. Shoes? Yes, shoes... so I got a new pair too! Actually he needed a pair because we had left his in our rush to leave New Jersey, we can add that to the list of things that went wrong there. Anyway, the shoes, Darin and I own many, too many, pairs of Birkenstocks. We like comfort. We found the Astral Brewer 2 Water Shoe and absolutely love them! They are awesome for hiking! But this post is about Yellowstone and Hwy212...
US Hwy 212 AKA Beartooth Highway is spectacular and climbs to 10,947 feet. The curves were impressive and the views were unmatched! This is a highway that we will visit again, here are some pictures of some of our stops along the way....
It was approaching 5 O'clock so we decided to start looking for a campsite. Eventually we pulled into a spot that looked promising, as we traveled the rocky road we realized 4 wheel drive was required. No problem, we have that. But we also have a long wheel base so we proceeded with caution.
At one point I got out to help navigate the path and was immediately overwhelmed by the blanket of bugs that wrapped around me. Nope! Time to go! It was a little rough getting out of that spot but I’m so glad we did! We got back on Hwy 212 and right around a curve or two was another turn-off.
This was an amazing find; as we pulled in another vehicle was pulling out. The area was flat with two small lakes in sight and a beautiful grassy meadow. We turned, backed in and parked. There was plenty of daylight left so we hopped out and went exploring. We had been on the road for several weeks at this point and had yet to see a bear, fingers were crossed that we would see one, from a safe distance of course. As we stepped away from the van we were attacked!
No, not by a bear but by the most intense flying insects I had ever encountered! It was insane, I quickly helped set up camp and got back in the van a few times for some relief. Another traveler stopped by for a look-see and chatted with Darin long enough to exclaim his shock about the bugs. He was from Louisiana and had never experienced anything like it either. He left and I felt better about my wimping out over the bugs. Darin persevered and just kept doing his thing around camp while being mauled.
The view here was fantastic, our dinner was delicious and serenity was achieved even with the bugs. Our campfire was something any Girl Scout would be proud of... Sleep was peaceful and the morning sunrise was storybook quality.
After a little morning meditation and exercise we cleaned up around camp and continued our journey toward Yellowstone National Park.
As we made our way toward Yellowstone we drove into Cooke City MT, the Coolest Small Town in America, elevation 7651. The Cooke City General Store was just what we needed for supplies. AKA Bug Spray! The clerk at the store told me to call her if the bug spray she recommended didn't work,
I didn't call.
Entering Yellowstone NP from the NE corner is definitely the way to go! Less people and better views to start the journey. We entered early enough in the day that we didn't feel rushed or cramped by other sightseers. The added benefit of going against traffic was a huge plus. Since we had not yet seen a bear, we kept our eyes peeled and enjoyed our visit.
As we were cruising along toward Old Faithful we noticed a bison in the oncoming lane of traffic so of course we stopped to see what it might do... I grabbed my phone and started a video, well I thought I did anyway. We had done some commentary then I realized I was not videoing!! So I started it again and got the end of the bison leading the way, take a look.
Old Faithful was packed with people, we walked about and took some pictures but actually enjoyed the northeast side of the park more than we did this major attraction. Darin was getting a bit itchy from the bugs we encountered last night so we stopped at one of the park stores and bought some benadryl.
We did see some geysers and truly loved Yellowstone. I hope to return during colder weather one day soon.
Just down the road was Grand Teton NP, so beautiful and less crowded. We basically breezed through and started looking for a place to camp for the night. We ended up at the edge of a wildlife refuge just past Grand Teton and north of Jackson Hole. By the time we settled in for the night Darin had begun to look like he had contracted the Elephant Man Disease. He had lumps on his arms and face from all those bugs! I must say I tried to tell him they would not stop biting him and that he was not immune. Was a lesson learned? Only time will tell.
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We are almost home! But there is plenty left to see.