Yellowstone – Mammoth Terrace

Note: This post was from a visit to Yellowstone prior to the park closing. As an update on the park the southern loop opened yesterday only allowing odd numbered license plate vehicles to enter. Despite that restriction ( they will alternative odd and even plates every day) the line to the park was insane stretching miles out of town at 8am. People waited for hours to get in. Although we were curious, we are choosing to stay away from the park for the time being in the hopes it will calm down a bit.

One evening we were looking for something to do and headed up to Mammoth Terrace. I was pretty so-so about seeing the Terrace because from the outside it looks like a big white hill, but since the weather was great we decided to drive up there. The terrace has multiple levels with parking at each one so we randomly chose to start at the top. Pretty quickly I was disabused of the idea that it would be boring because once you got inside the terrace there was lots of cool stuff to see.

There are multiple Terraces to see and from my my perspective it really doesn’t matter where you start.

The views of the town were pretty great from the top and there are numerous boardwalks on the areas that are safe. It turns out that the terrace is constantly changing under pressure and the park service evaluates where people can walk. The white areas (which are kind of boring) are where water no longer flows, but the colored areas have boiling water or steam and are really beautiful.

At the very end of the walkway on the top level there was a gorgeous terrace (my favorite) and views of the tiny cars below. The entire structure is huge …taller than a 4 story building.

After we finished the top we went to a parking lot on a lower level and walked the rest. The climbs are considered strenuous and it did get really hot while we were walking. It was really cool though because we would turn a corner and see something very different. I really liked the Minerva Terrace as well because we could get very close to the water. It was all gushing from one medium sized hole and made that terrace really beautiful.

Much more beautiful than the picture can capture
This is the hole that all the water was coming from. It was rushing out
The white section is where the water no longer flows

Because there are huge sections with no water people often think the Terrace is drying up. The NPS has monitored it and the water is roughly the same. 90% of the water is underground and it changes where it comes out periodically. That makes the terrace a living, changing thing and I found it more interesting for that. It reminded me of coral reefs we have seen while scuba diving, but in the open air.

We finally made it to the “ground floor” and saw the Liberty Cap and Opal Terrace. We were lucky enough to exchange picture taking with a nice group and although it was pretty crowded found a moment or two for some nice shots.

Just goes to show you that you can’t judge a book by its cover and I am so glad we took the time to do this. Just keep in mind it was VERY warm in the middle sections and the stairs can be strenuous. You can drive to each section though and somewhat skip the stairs if you like.

Since right after this trip it started raining and didn’t stop for several days which led to flooding and eventual closure of this section of the park feel even more blessed that we got to see this.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

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First Time in Big Sky Oh My

Update: This post was completed right before the Yellowstone flooding and closure.

There are places you hear about and always want to see in person and for me one of those places is Big Sky, Montana. There is something about the name that evokes the west and I was very excited to see it. Lee had made the drive up that way to Bozeman but a couple of times I chose not to go because the skies were overcast. When you go to Big Sky you want to actually see it so I was excited when we finally had a decent weather day and could head that way.

The drive north on 191 is very beautiful and goes through the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park and a big chunk of the Custer-Gallatin National Forest. It also is close to the Gallatin Mountain range and drive along the Gallatin river were spectacular. I didn’t come close to capturing it but here are a few pics.

When we reached Big Sky initially it looked like any other tiny town, but on a whim I saw a sign and asked Lee to make a left. That was a great choice because the real town is off the highway and was absolutely charming. There is definitely money here for sure and the real estate is outrageously priced (I checked) but I really liked the town’s vibe and beauty.

The town has all kinds of amenities including local grocery stores, restaurants, golf course, and even a movie theater. Since it is only 45 minutes to Bozeman from there they don’t have to have all the big box stores in town. There is even a park with a waterfall that we want to go back and explore later. The hike was a little long for the time we had but definitely want to go back and check it out.

The coolest part was we turned a corner right outside of town and saw two Mountain sheep very close to the road. I had Lee stop and we walked across the highway and took these pictures from a safe distance. They could have cared less about us and we had all the time in the world to watch them.

I really liked it there and can’t wait to go back and explore more but we also wanted to see Bozeman. West Yellowstone is roughly equidistant between Idaho Falls and Bozeman and of the two I definitely liked Bozeman better. It has a great small town vibe feel and the people were much friendlier than the ones I had met in Idaho Falls. And although both drives are nice the drive to Bozeman is absolutely gorgeous. Since we were in town we stocked up on things we can’t get in smaller towns and ultimately headed back. We were going to take a less traveled route on our way back but it started raining pretty hard again so we just went back the way we had come. There are lots of cool small towns in that area and we can’t wait to go back and explore more.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

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Yellowstone – Firehole Lake Drive

Update: This post was completed before the Yellowstone flooding and closure.

One of the other side roads that we have been waiting to open up is Firehole Lake Drive, and one evening we were happy to see that it was open. Like every other side road we have been on this one was GREAT and it was one cool surprise after another. I don’t know what I was expecting but it definitely wasn’t this.

We were surprised to find the Great Fountain Geyser which is popular enough that it has seating. The sign said it wasn’t due to erupt until after 6pm so we just moved on to the next which was a super cool white dome geyser. These cones are formed by minerals from the geyser and will eventually close off. Lee and I both loved it and took some great pictures. Check out the sky…that is 100% what it looked like that day and it went perfectly with the dome.

After we checked out the dome we started to leave when suddenly it went off. I jumped back out of the truck and got some pictures, but they don’t do justice to how magnificent it was. There are people who track geyser eruptions like others who track animals and I always feel lucky when one randomly goes off when we are around. It’s like a gift from Mother Nature.

Super Cool!!!

Next was the lake itself that is an interesting mix of of hot springs, and the lake. You can see where cool water meets hot in the lake itself and the springs have little steaming waterfalls. It was very interesting and we spent a lot of time walking around.

After Firehole Lake we headed further east but most of the named geyser parking lots were full. Instead we stopped at Kepler Cascades for what I thought was a quick stop to look at rapids. Well there were rapids but also an amazing multi-level waterfall and I was once again shocked at the view. We have found there are so many unassuming corners of Yellowstone that can really blow us away.

Small parking lot and small walkway wasn’t expecting much
And then this is what we saw

After the cascades, we decided to popup to Old Faithful Inn so we could take a look. The old National lodges are really amazing and this was one of the best we have seen. It has three levels with open balconies to the inside. It provides free tours which I would love to take but unfortunately we were there at the wrong time. They also have a prime rib buffet ($39.99 per person) and at 5:00 the line was already really long. The lodge gift shop was nice though and they had unique items we hadn’t seen anywhere else. I bought some huckleberry flavored margarita mix 🙂

One of the most interesting things about the Inn is that the bison graze freely really close to the entrances and exits. Since the woman from Ohio was gored recently we saw several rangers watching the area, but despite their presence several people got too close. Lee and I kept a wide berth though when walking back to our truck just to be on the safe side.

These evening jaunts are turning out to be really fun even with the larger crowds. Getting back out of the park is still taking awhile but we just build that time into what we want to do. Next up I finally get to Big Sky and Bozeman.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

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First Time in Jackson Hole

Update: This post was completed before the Yellowstone flooding and closure.

On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend we were both off but the weather was once again not that great. In the hopes we could drive out of the rain, we decided to go down to Jackson Hole and see our friends Julie and Casey. On the way down we drove through Yellowstone Park, out the south gate, and into the Rockefeller parkway, which is the land between Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

The south entrance/exit to Yellowstone. As you can see it was a gray and rainy day.

I wanted to drive on Grass Road but it was still closed for the winter so we continued into Teton National Park. Unfortunately it was so cloudy we couldn’t see any of those views Grand Teton is famous for so I didn’t even take any pictures. We just just kept on driving until we entered Jackson Hole. Once we got into town we were looking for a parking space, when we got stopped in an alley as a parade went by. It was clear we weren’t going anywhere until it was done, so we got out of the car and watched. It was a cute small town parade with free candy and some cool horse riders, and I was glad we accidently stumbled across it.

Here’s where we got stuck

Parade aside I will say I was a little disappointed in Jackson Hole. It may have been the weather, or the Western Day crowds buts it’s mainly expensive shops and ski paraphernalia and I wasn’t that excited by the town or its crowds. I did love the statues throughout the town though especially the ones you could pose with. They were beautiful. And we did get our requisite picture in front of the antlers in the town square and luckily Julie and Casey were available and met us to eat at one of their favorite brunch places.

Loved this pic

After we walked around a bit we went to the Elk Refuge visitor’s center, which was by far the best part of the visit. Julie is working for a sister nonprofit and knew all the people working there. It’s a terrific visitors center with a great gift shop and a viewing platform of the Elk Refuge. The refuge is built next to the lands where around 7,500 Elk winter. If the Elk do not have enough to eat in the winter the non profit supplements their diet with pellets. It’s a great cause and I was so glad we got to see it.

Really cool group of Elk running up to the second floor

Really interesting Elk with antlers that also grew down. I learned this can be caused when the base is damaged at a young age

The best part was the huge deck off the second floor where you could walk out and see the valley. Very pretty.

Like I said the Elk refuge and seeing Julie and Casey was the best part of Jackson Hole and after a really looong drive back, through a scary pass with 10% grades, I don’t know if I will be in a big hurry to rush back. We definitely will be seeing Grand Teton at some point though just waiting on a nice day. It certainly wasn’t Memorial Day though because we got another 3 inches of snow. I know I keep harping on the bad weather but we really weren’t expecting this much rain/snow/hail. We only have one full day off a week together and its a bummer when those days are cloudy or rainy.

Memorial Day

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

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Yellowstone Park Closure

Due to the flooding in Yellowstone I am inserting this blog post out of order to give an update on the situation. Thank you VERY much to everyone who has reached out and checked on us. We are safe and are continuing to monitor the situation.

A couple of days after our Mammoth Terrace visit it started raining and it didn’t stop. I mean that literally because it rained for two solid days over the weekend. Lee was actually really sick that weekend as well so between his being sick and the rain we just hunkered down and rode it out. Sunday evening though word started to trickle in that there was major flooding up north. By Monday morning it was clear that the town of Gardiner (right outside the north entrance) was completely cut off. The bridges had washed out on two sides and HWY 89 was completely shut down. In addition Cooke City was cut off and Red Lodge (where a friend of ours was working) was completely flooded out.

Information came from a variety of places so I wont even attempt to recreate the timeline but here is what we have heard so far.

  1. The two days of rain accumulated 2-1/2″ (a record) which accelerated the snowmelt bringing the Yellowstone River to its highest recorded levels.
  2. People were evacuated from Red Lodge, including our friends who had to move twice (finally landing in Billings, MT and had to leave their RV. We heard that 2500 RVs were evacuated in total across the area.
  3. The northern exists and eastern exits of the parks were closed due to bridge washouts or avalanche concerns. The water levels were undercutting the ground underneath the roads and Cooke City and Gardiner residents were trapped because bridges on both sides had been washed away. They lost power and their water table is contaminated from the flooding. Evacuations were done of the most at risk.
  4. Yellowstone National Park initially closed the northern loop and then ultimately closed the entire park, partly because the Bison and Elk started migrating south using the roads and were causing 16 miles long traffic jams.
  5. A hospital was evacuated in Livingston, MT because of flooding.
  6. At the time of this writing no deaths have been reported thank heavens, which is a miracle considering how quickly bridges were washed away.
  7. West Yellowstone is safe with power and clean water. The old airport, city park, and visitors center are being used for overflow along with an area in Jackson Hole.
  8. Our friends in the Tetons are safe but have seen a steady stream of RV’s and cars heading south out of one of the two passable exists.
  9. The campground owner where we are staying has said they are slammed with calls and for every 1 that cancels 9 more are for people looking for a place to stay.

The National Park Service has done an outstanding job of controlling the situation and here are the details from the most recent press release. Please keep in mind things are in flux and new information is coming in all the time.

From the National Par Service “Here are the short and long-term objectives we’ve set and will be focused on as a park for recovery:

• Ensure safety of employees and visitors

• Implement full visitor closure of the northern loop (completed yesterday)

• Implement full visitor closure of the southern loop (ongoing target completion today)

• Implement full visitor closure of the backcountry (in process)

• Evaluate needs for backcountry evacuations (begin today – assess how many people are in the backcountry, evacuation plan)

• Improve Old Gardiner Road (work should begin on this today or tomorrow once precipitation subsides. Plan will be to use this road for admin travel and to evacuate visitors from Gardiner should Hwy 89 remain impassable)

• Restore power to northern Yellowstone sites and Canyon, Lake, and Norris (Northwestern Energy working on this now and are saying should be restored today)

• Evacuate Gardiner visitors through Old Gardiner Road if necessary (likely Thursday or Friday if possible and if Hwy 89 is not open)

• Support Gardiner residents with resupply of food, water and medicine (we will be working with the Gardiner Market and others to determine needs of the community. We may bring supply trucks to Mammoth and fly supplies to Gardiner using the park’s aircraft and potentially National Guard air support; working with county and state)

• Support isolated NPS residents at NE entrance with resupply through aircraft when necessary (employees at NE entrance are sheltering in place, we are in contact with them and will gauge their needs to provide assistance. They are cut off from Cooke City)

• Provide support to Cooke City residents as necessary

• Mitigate wastewater impacts of destroyed sewer lines in Gardiner and Mammoth (ongoing)

• Relocate all Mammoth-based concessions employees to properties on the southern loop (happening today and tomorrow)

• Halt and redirect any inbound employees hired to work in Mammoth or Tower who haven’t arrived yet

• Support employees who lost housing in Gardiner (multiple actions)

• Prepare for outside teams to travel to Yellowstone and assist with damage assessments when water recedes (mixture of Federal Highways, NPS, and other)

• Prepare strategy for reservation system for southern loop for remainder of the year (we will not allow full visitation into the southern loop when it reopens and are working on options to control the amount of visitors who can enter the park; southern loop will likely not open for another 5 days at minimum)

• Develop long-term reconstruction strategy based on damage assessments; funding strategies TBD with region/WASO/DOI

• Continue substantive communications with gateway communities, congressional and DOI/NPS leadership

• Continue media outreach”

For those of us who live fulltime in an RV and/or work seasonal jobs things events like this can have a serious impact. People are separated from their homes and uncertain as to how their income (which they are relying on) might be affected. Lee and I are incredibly grateful that we both have a safe place to stay and a reliable income regardless of what happens with the local businesses but we also have been in situations where that might not be the case. If you know anyone who is traveling in this area please reach out and check on them and see if there is anything you can do. Even if it is nothing just knowing that you care will mean the world to them. And please think good thoughts or say a prayer for the continued safety of everyone in the affected areas.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

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May 2022 Budget

Sorry this is so late, things have been busy around here…which is a good thing. We spent $5,589 this month and with Lee’s additional income were able to put some money in savings which was nice. Living in a remote area can really impact grocery and gas costs, but having a place to stay for free is saving us the $1400 a month we would be spending if we could even get this monthly rate. See below for more details.

Clothing and Souvenirs – We spent over $300 in this category but got some cool T-Shirts and magnets. Hey it’s Yellowstone!

Entertainment – I should probably mention that this category includes newspaper subscriptions, books, IPad games, and traditional entertainment. Most of our activities have been free but we still racked up $456.

Eating Out – We really have been splurging in this area spending $780. I would love to say our grocery bill have gone down but as you can see it has not.

Grocery – We spent $1236 in this category this month. Part of it is staying stocked up and part is the higher cost of food here. Even given that it seems really high and is definitely something we should take a look at.
Gifts – I bought my oldest grandson his birthday present early and I sent flowers for a funeral and contributed to a fund raiser for a work colleague.

Home repair – We did great in this category spending a little over $200 because Lee is working and home projects are reduced to the necessary.

Truck Fuel – We spent $692 and with gas prices as high as they are and all the driving we have been doing I consider this pretty good. We have been trying to time our fill-ups for when we are in a larger town which is saving us up to 40 cents a gallon.

All in all not bad for the month of experiences we have had but I would still like to dive in and get some categories down. Still with both of us working we can easily cover our costs and I feel lucky to be able to do so. The higher gas and food costs have driven some people off the road or restricted the travel of others. I truly feel blessed to have the funds to continue with this lifestyle and feel very lucky for my corporate job.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

Yellowstone – Dunraven Pass

On the Friday afternoon of Memorial Day we took advantage of some glorious weather and went into the park. Dunraven pass (the road between Canyon Village and Tower Roosevelt had finally opened!!!) and I was really excited to see this last section of the park. The day started out great as along the way I got to see my first Momma Grizzly and her two cubs. Thankfully Lee was able to find a parking spot and we jumped out and took some pictures.

At first I just saw this one lone cub

Then Momma poked her head out. She was a beauty

We were watching her dig for grubs and then a second baby popped out. What a wonderful moment
My best shot came when a car made a noise and the babies stood up and looked right at us. Momma could have cared less but she did look frequently behind herself into the woods.

I got some great shots with my 400MM but Lee’s were better with the 600MM, plus he’s a better photographer in general so here are his shots.

We could have watched this all day but we got our shots and moved on. Partly to allow others a chance at a plum parking spot and partly because I really wanted to drive the road. Turned out that was a good call because the road was absolutely gorgeous. I did understand why they had kept it closed so long though because the snow pack was crazy high and the road was twisty turney. It reminded both of us of some of our Alaskan long drives and we loved it. I learned later the road have been under construction and been closed for the last couple of years so we were one of the first ones on it.

Look for the road on the upper left . Gorgeous views

The road got even better though because near the end we saw a black bear and her two cubs. This time there was no place to park but we drove right by her and I got a few shots out of the truck window. Not too bad if I do say so myself 🙂 I didn’t even see the cubs at first I was so focused on her, but when one started to try and climb a tree I got the shot.

She was a beauty

so cute

Again not bad from a moving truck

After seeing the bears we went to the Tower gift shop and were surprised to see that the parking lot was packed. It is right next to the falls and there were some bears far down in the valley so people were having a really good time. I am glad we got to see the falls when hardly anyone was there though.

Afterwards we turned around and drove back down the same road (it was pretty both ways) and stopped at Canyon Village for a buffet dinner. In order to help with staffing shortages they are offering a cafeteria style meal which was pretty decent. It was $22, a little on the pricey side, but the food was tasty after a long day. Plus a new gift shop was open and we got some terrific 150th anniversary shirts (2 for $25). This shirt is by far my favorite and I am so glad I found it. As a side note there is much repetition between the various gift shops but each one seems to have some unique items, so it is worth stopping at all of them. And its fun of course!

Once again it was a lovely day, bookended by two different bear encounters. If you are a person who loves happy endings (you know who you are) I want you to stop right here. For those who are more interested in the good and the bad please continue…

The day did go very well but when we headed out of the park we finally ran into the traffic we have been hearing so much about. We hit two bison jams on the way out and it took over 1-1/2 hours to finally get back to West Yellowstone. Sometimes the jams are legitimate because the bison are in the middle of the road, but usually people are just stopping or slowing down to get pictures. Since there is only one way in and out you just have to wait. To give you an example during the worst one I got out and walked the dog for some time before Lee caught up with me.

Here was one of them and it can feel you are being held hostage by the car in front.

Which leads me to what else I want to talk about. Yellowstone is not a zoo. The animals are not contained in any way, and although bison look like cute fluffy cows, they are wild animals. People get seriously hurt, and sometimes killed, every year, and this years first serious injury was a 25 year old (coincidently from my home town of Grove City, Ohio) who got gored by a bison. Originally reports said she died, but we later learned she did survive although I have no idea of the permanent damage. Have you ever seen a cowboy try to ride a bull and then get thrown off and attacked? Think that scenario but with no rodeo clowns to intervene. This is serious business, but people repeatedly ignore signs and get too close. We see it every time we go into the park.

In addition, wild animals hunt each other. I hate to tell you (and hated to learn) that those two baby grizzlies shown above were killed by a male grizzly the day after we saw them. I found this particularly upsetting, but male bears will kill the cubs of another male to protect their territory and put the female back in estrus. Lee is on local Facebook groups that track this sort of thing and I told him going forward I would rather not know. I am a happy ending kind of person myself and would prefer to believe those babies grew up to have babies of their own. Only one in three cubs actually survive though which helps keep the bear population manageable. Mother nature is glorious and brutal in its wonder and death is a key part of maintaining the balance.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

Mesa Falls Scenic Highway

With Memorial Day weekend arriving the crowds have definitely started getting crazier. In order to see how much traffic is at the gate we have started looking at the Web Cam at the West Yellowstone gate and when it looks like the picture below we have started exploring outside of the park!

You can see for yourself what the West Yellowstone entrance looks like, any time.

Actual picture of traffic at gate during Memorial Day weekend.

These trips may be farther away mileage-wise but they are often less time because you can travel on the highway. On this particular day I wanted to explore the Mesa Falls scenic highway…because waterfalls…and since we had a full day we also decided to go into the Targhee National Forest and see Cave Falls as well. Route 47 starts (or ends) in Ashton Idaho so we drove straight there and started from that end.

The road into the National Forest is actually called E1400N and is right off of 47. It’s a 19 mile drive on a dirt road, which can get a little bumpy in spots but wasn’t too bad the day we went. It’s a beautiful drive with lots of woods and ponds and I even saw a beaver and a beaver dam, although I didn’t get a picture of the beaver. There were lots of boondocking spots all along the road and since it was a holiday weekend lots of people were taking advantage of the numerous spots. No cell coverage unfortunately back in there but it was a great place to get away from the crowds. And speaking of boondocking if you have been thinking about getting Solar I really recommend reaching out to our friends at RV Solar Solutions or you can email our buddy Bill at and he can walk you through your options. I only mention it because we love finding out of the way places to stay when we can and our solar system makes it possible for us to go off grid. And Bill does a FANTASTIC job.

We finally arrived at the falls and it was absolutely gorgeous. It is three distinct levels, and you can get as close as you would like. National Forests are much more relaxed in their rules than National Parks and Jack had a blast running around.

We hardly saw anyone all day but as we were at these falls two vehicles rolled up and lots of people jumped out. We moved on to the next section and decided to walk right up to the falls. This was a great decision for two reasons. First, by the time we were done those folks were gone, and more importantly it was incredibly cool being so close to the main section of falls. The wind was damp from the spray and we all loved getting so close. Even Jack wanted to get right into the water.

The third level we drove up to and this part was actually back in Yellowstone. This area goes into the very southwest corner of the park and is a jumping off point for back country hiking. I wish I had the guts to hike deep into the backcountry because there are tons of barely explored waterfalls (some weren’t even discovered until the 1920’s) but with all the bear activity that’s a little too off the beaten path for me. Still we got some great shots and I used a very clean bathroom which was much appreciated.

The pictures we got from this viewpoint were wonderful and I wish I could have captured how gorgeous it was. Here is my best attempt, but it was a very magical place and we had it all to ourselves.

I didn’t think much could beat that but then we headed to Mesa Falls. For us Cave Falls was actually better, but Mesa Falls was huge and had lots of beautiful walkways that take you right down to the falls. The Upper Falls section also has a gift shop but since we arrived after 5pm it was closed. First up we stopped at the lower falls which are incredibly special the only bummer was it was super far away and I really wanted to see it close up. We did have the place all to ourselves though which was great since the large parking lot suggests that this is a popular place.

So cool

About a mile down the road is the Upper Falls and this area is day use and costs $5. The National Forrest ranger let us stay for free with our America the Beautiful card but I would bring $5 with you in cash. Again this area had very few people and that was really cool. There is a great walkway right down to the waterfalls edge, but let me let the pictures do the talking here.

And here it is as we saw it walking along the path.

This is the edge before it goes over the falls

This waterfall is a monster. If you want some scale look in the middle right for the viewing platform to see how small the people are. That platform is just two feet from the edge of the falls.

We weren’t quite done yet though because on the way back we stopped at Connie’s Restaurant in Island Park and had one of the best meals we have had here. Small town businesses are interesting and Connie’s has a restaurant, work out center, and women’s boutique all in the same building. It was really nice and the food was great, I highly recommend it.

It had been a long day but we had one last surprise when we saw a momma and a baby moose along the side of the road. Moose sighting for us have been pretty rare and we have never seen a baby. It was really awesome and a perfect cap to a great day.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

Yellowstone – Lamar Valley

After leaving Tower Roosevelt we headed on to Lamar Valley. Serious animal watchers rave about this valley and we both wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Thankfully the weather had really cleared up and the vistas were beautiful. Once again the ever changing landscape never ceases to amaze me.

Yeah blue skies…remember we started with snow on our windshield in the morning.
Loved this rock formation in the middle of a large field

As beautiful as the vistas were the animal sightings were not as good as other areas of the park in my opinion. The sightings were really far away and if you have high powered binoculars or camera lenses (which many people did) you might enjoy it but this was the best bear picture I got all day.

It was a momma and her two cubs but really far away.

As you can see from the last post we have had much closer encounters with wildlife than here but we saw numerous groups of serious photographers. In particular they were lined up in a couple of places where there were wolf dens and pups. With my 400mm I couldn’t see anything and personally had little interest in staying in one place to see a wolf pup pop its head out. Others though were fascinated and unfortunately kept getting closer and closer. We learned later that the pack moved the pups from one den because a couple of photographers had gotten too close. Not cool.

One of the many lineups

We did get to see some buffalo closeup when we pulled into a side area and it was a great place for Jack to take a walk. He is really good about riding with us long days but we need to find areas he can stop and stretch his legs.

As we continued to head east though the terrain changed again and we started seeing absolutely beautiful snow covered mountains. It was really pretty and we stopped as we left the park to get a picture of Jack with the sign. Lee is always posing him places and in this case he was not thrilled but we got our picture.

We continued on to Cooke City which is a pretty funky little town. Dogs wander the streets (one had a bandana that said don’t feed me, but he still went up to moving cars and begged for food) and the stores that were open were all owned by free spirits. There is a really nice gift shop there that has a “museum” with stuffed animals and we spent some time talking to the very young owners. Unfortunately the Beartooth highway was still closed so we could not continue on and we had to turn around and go back the way we came.

To be honest Lamar Valley was one of my least favorite places we have visited in the park and I won’t be in a big hurry to go back. Once Beartooth pass opens we will definitely come back and we have a friend working at Red Lodge so we will probably see him as well. The problem with these farther corners of the park is there is no simple way to get back without going through the park again. The later in the day the more crowds there are so it can make for a VERY long day. I am glad we saw it though before it was too crowded but mountains aside for me at least it was only so-so. Next up we explore outside of the park a bit.

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Yellowstone – Tower Roosevelt

The one section of the park we were struggling to get to was Lamar Valley, so we set out on a day we both had off with the goal of finally exploring it. I say finally because the weather has been so different here that we have had to turn back a couple of times trying to make it there and this day didn’t start out promisingly as you can see from the snow on our windshield. Still we decided to give it a go because you really never know what weather you will see in different areas of the park. To prove that please keep an eye on the sky during the next two blog posts. They all happened in one day and the weather changed frequently.

This is what we started with but like Lee says nothing exciting happens sitting on the couch.

The one benefit of overcast weather is we have found it does increase the chance of animal sightings. We saw this beautiful Elk early on in the day and most exciting a moose! I am in awe of how people see animals like the moose when driving by, but I am always happy to cheat from their paper when I see cars pulled off the road.

Thankfully the weather started to clear when we hit Mammoth Springs and the drive to Tower Roosevelt was really pleasant. Since we left early we also had that part of the park largely to ourselves and we were both surprised when we came upon a beautiful waterfall. I had no idea this waterfall was here, but what a great surprise and we enjoyed walking around and taking pictures with Jack.

Th visitors center was still closed. It finally opened Memorial Day weekend. We actually went back that weekend and the parking lot was packed so I am extra glad we got up here early in the season.
Absolutely gorgeous vistas

We walked Jack up the road a bit and saw a small waterfall and a creek. There was an explosion of smells and Jack really enjoyed himself.

Unfortunately Jack couldn’t walk to the waterfall so back in the car he went and we took a very short walk to see the falls. What a beauty, it was truly unexpected. The only bummer was there was no way we could see to walk down to it and get closer.

The rock spire next to the fall was the coolest part and makes this waterfall pretty unique. Using my 18-400mm lens I got some pictures that were closer.

Super cool

Out last stop in the Tower Roosevelt area was to drive a couple miles down the road to Canyon Village. The rest of the road is closed until May 27th, but our new friends Lisa and Bob (Lee’s coworkers at the camera store) had told us they had seen a black bear there. It’s been great getting to know them, because they like us take full advantage of their days off and sharing information has improved our animal sightings. Still we didn’t expect how lucky we would get when we pulled up and saw a mama black bear with her baby right across the road. It drew quite the crowd, but we got a great spot and both of us got some awesome pictures.

Lee’s closeup pictures with the 600mm were so good

I am going to stop here before I head into Lamar Valley, but as you can see the weather is much improved even at higher elevation. We did stop at a gift shop on our way home though and Lee bought a black bear and a moose magnet which are now added to the Grizzly and Bison we have on our fridge. It’s the little things in life 🙂

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes