August 31, 2010

Glacier National Park, Going to the Sun Road

Today we got up and headed for the Going to the Sun Road, the only road that travels through the heart of the park. An historic civil engineering landmark spanning 53 miles, the road was completed in 1932.

The road goes over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, which can get up to 80 feet in annual snowfall. The road can take up to ten weeks to clear each spring.

Enjoy this video of our days at the park.

For more pictures, click here pictures 158-348.

To be continued...

August 30, 2010

Animal Encounters at Glacier National Park

This weekend we decided to visit Glacier National Park about 400 miles north of Yellowstone in northernmost Montana. As you can guess, there was a lot of open road on the way.

Along the way we spotted some buildings that looked very similar to the buildings we had toured when we visited the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota. For a link to our visit of the Minuteman Missile Site, click here .
We had happened upon what appeared to be an active missile control center.
Just a few miles away, we saw the site of one of the actual missiles, complete with moo cows.
Approaching the east entrances of Glacier National Park, visitors will travel through the Blackfeet Nation Indian Reservation.
We spotted this funnel cloud and watched as it stretched closer to the ground and retreated back into the sky several times. Luckily we were traveling away from it.

Our ten hour trip culminated in arriving at the Many Glaciers Entrance to Glacier National Park.
There were many sights to behold.
The road leading into the Many Glaciers Entrance dead ends 12 miles into the park at the Swiftcurrent Inn and Cabins.

When we arrived, visitors were viewing a family of grizzlies walking to and fro on the hill above the office/restaurant/store. Apparently several grizzly and black bear families live on this hill and the park service has closed some hiking trails in this area due to bear activity.
This was our two-bedroom cabin for the night. Although it had a sink with cold running water, it was without bathroom. The public bath and showers were a short walk away.
As we headed out for a short hike at about 5:30 pm, this is what we saw.
We were entering grizzly country for our 5 mile roundtrip hike. Our trail was the Ptarmigan/Iceberg Trail.
We met a lot of fellow hikers along the way who were returning from their hikes. We were awed by the views along the trail.
Everyone hiking this trail today got to see this huge elk basking in the sun just down the slope from the trail.

We reached Ptarmigan Falls about 7pm and headed back after viewing the falls.

As we were walking back, we spotted this rabbit with huge feet right next to the stinky pit toilet set up for hikers.
On our way down we also ran into our moose friend again. He had decided to eat right by the trail. By this, we mean his antlers were hanging over the hiking trail as he was bent down eating.
As we thought it might be rude to walk on by while he was eating, we watched him for several minutes until he decided to take about ten steps back down the hill and continue eating a safe distance from the trail.

We moved on and spotted this deer down below the trail. It walked along parallel to us for quite awhile before our next encounter.
We walked around a blind corner and had our final encounter with a grizzly and her three cubs. The mother politely decided to descend the hill on the right side of the trail.
However, her cub decided to run toward us like it wanted to play with us. This prompted the mother to "say" something to the cub that made it stop and the mother climbed back on the trail and proceeded to lead the cubs toward us.
How delighted we were...Marlon pulled his bear spray out but, luckily, did not use it. We backtracked around two curves in the trail and then quickly climbed the hill of flat rocks above the trail.

As we got about 20 feet above the trail, we turned around and the last of the cubs was just passing below us on the trail. The happy family thankfully continued on their merry way up the trail.

We continued on our merry way the last mile down the trail and were glad to make it back to our cabin, thankful that they had not been turning the SAME corner as us when we encountered them.

For more pictures, click here pictures 1-157.

To be continued...

August 28, 2010

Severe Storm Hits West Yellowstone

This afternoon between three and four o'clock, a large storm came through the area. It knocked down between 100 and 200 trees, according to town officials, and did damage to many buildings. Several people saw a funnel cloud spinning through the city.

We were home getting ready for work when dark clouds moved in. It was silent and then suddenly the heavy wind and rain started. We were fortunate no one had any damage in the rv park. Here are pictures of the City Park.

Heaviest hit was the Best Western, where the roof came off. You can see some rvs damaged behind the hotel.

View of the back of the Best Western.

The Yellowstone Park Inn and Suites also lost part of its roof.

Trees just snapped right in half.

The National Weather Service will be here Sunday to determine if there was a tornado. The storm appeared to hit the town from the southwest corner taking a diagonal path to the northeast corner.

For an article on the storm, click
here .

For more pictures of the storm, click
here or simply browse through the stack below by clicking on the stack.

To be continued...

August 24, 2010

Natural Bridge of Yellowstone

Today's trip was to the Natural Bridge located on the southeast side of Yellowstone Park. The trailhead begins at Bridge Bay Marina.

Dressed in our hiking attire, as you can see, we found what used to be natural wood before they cut it up and made a bridge out of it. This is an Unnatural Bridge and is just the beginning of the 1.5-mile trail to the Natural Bridge.

The Natural Bridge is a 51-foot high cliff of rhyolite rock that has been cut through by the process of erosion in nearby Bridge Creek.

On our way back, we noticed a dog driving this motorhome.

We had to get back home for movie night, but we managed to stop for some pictures.

These bison were grazing on the hill by the Fishing Bridge.

This is from the Arnica fire in September, 2009.

This is the West Thumb Geyser Basin. We only had time for a few pictures, but will come back to walk on the trails at a later date.

Behind it is Yellowstone Lake. With a 132-square mile surface, Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake above 7,000 feet in North America. 20 miles long and 14 miles wide, the lake freezes around December each year and thaws near early June.

We made it back just in time for movie night. Doug made pork chops...

and Candice made cheesecake. Yum!!!!!!!!

For more pictures, click here .

To be continued...

August 18, 2010

Sandy and Dennis come for a visit

Today we had a visit from our friends, Sandy and Dennis, who were headed up to Glacier National Park. We took them a couple places off the beaten path of most visitors to the area...Big Springs and Mesa Falls in Island Park, Idaho.

The Falls were still flowing.

Right before moving from Denver three years ago, we met Sandy and Dennis at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds where they were camphosts for the summer. Then they joined us in Florida in the fall of 2008 and worked Epcot's Food and Wine Festival.

Standing in front of Mesa Falls' Upper Falls.

Picture of the lower falls. We all had a great time catching up.

For more pictures, click here .

To be continued...

August 17, 2010

Grand Teton National Park & Jackson, Wyoming

Our destination today was Grand Teton National Park and Jackson, Wyoming.

We drove through Yellowstone heading south through the park. On the way, we captured the steam coming off the geysers on a cool morning.

About 11 miles from the south entrance to Yellowstone, one will find Lewis Falls.
Grand Teton National Park is about 20 miles south of Yellowstone.
Enjoy some views of the Grand Tetons.

This is not a Grand Teton. It is a moose.
This is an arch made of antlers in the town park of Jackson.
This is a fence made with logs and skis.
On our way back, we took Teton Pass which travels through Driggs, Idaho. Driggs' Spud Drive-In Theatre was featured as one of the top 50 American roadside attractions by Time Magazine. Read about the drive-in here .
A bison in a precarious spot...
For more pictures, click here .

To be continued...