Friday, August 26, 2016

Yellowstone and GrandTetons

I got an early start on Saturday morning because I wanted to try to visit two national parks and also find a camp space that day. On my July visit to the area (with Robin and Ken), I had talked with a ranger about camping in the Teton National Forest. She had pointed out several areas where one was likely to find dispersed camps, and also mentioned that Gros Ventre campground within the southern end of GTNP often had vacancy through the summer, even late in the day on weekends. The campground has 350 spaces. My online research also revealed a second campground near Jackson Lake in GTNP with 350 spaces, and it was a bit cheaper. I figured with 700 spaces in the area, I might find one just for me, and if not, I'd boondock in the forest

As I started down the road, a motor home zipped by me, and I saw his slide was out! I thought it was likely a mistake, and tried to catch up with him to signal him to stop, but before I drew close, he slammed on his brakes and pulled over. I slowed down as I went by him, and could hear the whine of his slide motor, so I knew he was rectifying the dangerous (and gas guzzling) situation. 

I remember my first visit to Yellowstone when I was about 8, and as we drove in to the park Mom read us the book "The Night The Mountain Fell", the story of the 1959 earthquake at West Yellowstone. The road I drove hugged Quake Lake, which had been formed by the landslide.

Smoke drifted over the road from a wildfire nearby causing my eyes to sting. I kept an eye out for any signs that the road was closed, but it must have been farther away than it seemed.

I was expecting bumper to bumper traffic throughout the park, but it wasn't bad at all, and everyone was observing the 45mph speed limit. I stopped at Lower Geyser Basin

and Upper Geyser Basin, where Old Faithful and the Visitor's Center are located.  I timed my arrival at Old Faithful just right, as she went off just about a half hour after I got there.

I stopped at the Visitors Center at West Thumb Grant Village, and then drove on through the southern part of Yellowstone and into Grand Teton National Park. Once there, I headed to Colter Bay Campground, and sure enough they has plenty of available spaces. I perused the small visitors center there before driving into the campground. They assign spaces when you enter since the campground is so large. They gave me a nice space, and after setting up, Hanna and I walked around several loops, making friends along the way as we chatted with several other campers.

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