Looking for something fun to do one evening Lee and I drove to Island Park and up Sawtelle Mountain. Since we arrived, Lee has been wanting to go to the top of this mountain because it has an FAA Radar dome at the top. It’s part of the joint surveillance network and Lee loves that sort of stuff so he did some research to see if we could go up. Turns out we can but the road was a bit hard to find.. Eventually we did start the drive and the gravel road was VERY well maintained,
The higher we got the cooler it was and the more the landscape changed. The road changed as well and turned into a crazy switchback. Lee loves those sorts of drives and I just white knuckled it until we got to the top.
When we reached the top (9884 ft) it exceeded my expectations. The 360 degree views were amazing and we could even see the Grand Tetons far away. Let me just show you the pictures.
The facility itself was also pretty cool. It was all locked up but you could see the outside equipment. Because this is a surveillance system it is accessed year round and the federal government has a second warehouse farther down with road clearing vehicles. Personally I can’t imagine clearing snow on those switchbacks and I give HUGE credit to the folks that do it.
It was a great visit and we spent quite a bit of time up there with Lee getting some great truck porn as well 🙂 Jack loved it because we could just let him run around although I did get a little nervous when he went towards the edges. It’s a great trip to make on a clear and warmer day and I highly recommend it if you have the time.
Speaking of weather, it has finally stopped raining and has been clear skies for several days now. We also learned that they are opening the northern part of the park on 7/1 which is great for the local businesses. The entrances at Cooke City and Gardiner still aren’t open, but you can enter through the other entrances and travel 90% of the park. Most importantly they are removing the every other day license plate restrictions so we can go in any day.
Lee took advantage of the new rules and went in one night with some folks he works with to take shots of the Galaxy. Apparently the center of the Galaxy was lined up with the park and he got some beautiful shots. Night shots take more patience than I have so I gave it a pass but here are a few of my favorites.
As a side note, if you do go into the park at night you should definitely have bear spray and drive carefully. You should also go with a group as well and be prepared to be very aware of your surroundings. One of the guys Lee went with had night vision goggles and used them to continually scan the area for animals. Thankfully they went with a large, vigilant group and had no issues.
Next up we will both be heading into the park and we have a very fully July 4th weekend planned!
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