Tuesday, June 19, 2018

West Yellowstone Montana to Worland Wyoming

It was 39 F when we awoke at 6:00 AM in West Yellowstone, Montana. I checked the web and saw that the Beartooth Highway, our objective today, was closed due to a snowstorm and heavy drifting yesterday. That meant that the day could begin in a more relaxed fashion.

This Days Inn served a full breakfast in the attached restaurant. All we had to cover were the taxes and gratuity. I had scrambled eggs and ham while Sandy had eggs over medium and bacon. We both had wheat toast. The staff was so cheerful it scared me:-))

Today was our first long pants day of the trip. Hopefully, it would also be the last. The temperature was up to 46 F when we left the hotel at 7:45. It was a short hop to the West Entrance of Yellowstone National Park, where they confirmed that Beartooth Pass was currently closed and relieved me of $35 to cover the park entry. I decided that if we could not do Beartooth, we would try the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway instead. Both routes involved transiting the park to the Northeast Entrance.

 West Yellowstone, Montana

 West Entrance - Yellowstone National Park

West Entrance to Madison

The first stretch was pretty plain as we drove along amid pine trees paralleling the Madison River at the mandated 45 MPH. There were a few spots where the speed limit was reduced. A few could not get up to 45 and yet disregarded the signs asking slower traffic to use the pullouts. We crossed into Wyoming soon after leaving the entrance.

 Madison River

 This was once a Cruise America rental RV

 This one too (like ours)

 Traveling Yellowstone and looking at Yosemite

Madison to Norris

The next stretch saw us drive along the Gibbon River and through the Monument and Norris Geyser Basins. We stopped at roadside facilities and found that a bison was sharing the parking area. It wandered off but didn't go far, which we found out when we got back on the road.

Whenever wildlife was visible (or suspected), the cars all stopped and gawked. Some of the gawkers had some very nice cameras and binoculars.

 There were times I missed the motorcycle

 A second bison

 I'll swear this one was swaggering

Norris to Canyon Village

At the Norris intersection, turning right let us avoid the construction. It also avoided most of the traffic, which went straight. Lastly, it was the shortest route to the Northeast Entrance. This stretch didn't have a lot of interesting scenery other than an 8% grade that stretched for three miles.

Canyon Village to Tower-Roosevelt

At the Canyon Village intersection, we stopped at a Sinclair gas station and convenience store to use the plumbing. Then we turned north towards Tower-Roosevelt. On the way, we stopped at the Washburn Hot Springs Overlook, Dunraven Pass and the Washburn Range Overlook. Above 8,000 feet, we encountered snow by the side of the road.

Washburn Hot Springs Overlook

 Sandy photographed with her own camera

 Dunraven Pass - 8,859 feet

 It's real snow

 I need a shave

 Can you see the switchbacks?

 Lots of curves


 The boss photographer

 Our road can be traced up several hills

 Washburn Mountains - first try at panorama

 Most of the downgrade had no shoulder and no guardrail

 The rocks actually do fall

 In 1978, we stopped at a pullout here and heard the rocks falling

 Yellowstone River

 There must be some wildlife so just leave the car on the road

 We didn't see it and I don't think most of them did either

Tower-Roosevelt to the Northeast Entrance

The final turn east at Tower-Roosevelt took us through the Lamar Valley where we saw a few bison at first and then herds of them.

 Lamar River

 No rollerskating!!

 Soda Butte Creek

Back to Montana for a short stretch 

 We saw several of these

Northeast Entrance to Chief Joseph Highway

Leaving the park, we went through Silver Gate and Cooke City without stopping. We then crossed Colter Pass at 8,048 feet before returning to Wyoming at 11:11 AM. I may have to watch the rest of that TV series (Here and Now) because this number keeps cropping up in our travels.

 Silver Gate

 Burn area

 Cooke City

 Close to being over the road

 Colter Pass

 Entering Wyoming at 11:11 and 49 F

 We stopped at a pullout to record the view

Chief Joseph Scenic Byway

At the turnoff to the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, we confirmed that the Beartooth Highway was closed 17 miles up. That didn't phase a GL-1800 who headed up the highway anyway. All things being equal, I was glad we did the Chief Joseph. There was a lot more to it than I had expected. The climb over Dead Indian Pass was awesome, as was the view from the top.

 This was the Beartooth Highway

 The Wing headed up anyway

 Sunlight Creek Rest Area - RV from Switzerland

 Starting the climb to Dead Indian Pass

 Dead Indian Summit Overlook

 Dead Indian Pass - 8,000 feet

 The story of the Nez Perce escaped the cavalry and how the Indian died

 Panoramic view of the Clarks Fork Of The Yellowstone Valley

  Part of the road we came up

 Striped mooching mountain rats

 What goes up must come down

 Fixing a road issue

Cody Wyoming

The Chief Joseph Highway ended at Wyoming 120, which we took towards Cody. There were several active rain cells and we saw the occasional bolt of lightning. In Cody, we stopped at Arby's for lunch. I always thought Arby (RB) stood for Roast Beef, unlike some other folks. Imagine my surprise when I looked it up and found RB stood for the Raffel Brothers, founders of the chain. Then we went across the street to Walmart where we replenished our bottled water supply. Finally, I fueled up on the way out of town heading for Worland.

 Rain cells everywhere

 Reasonable gas prices (all things considered)

 Arby's for lunch

 Buffalo Bill's Hotel (named for his daughter)

 As usual, a gang watching one person work

 I wonder if there were more painted grizzlies?

Cody to Worland

I booked a room at the Days Inn in Worland, Wyoming. Worland is the gateway to Tensleep Canyon and Powder River Pass over the Bighorn Mountains, which we plan to hop to cross tomorrow. We crossed it on our first motorcycle trip west in 1978. Forty years ago. How time flies when you are having fun.

 This part of Wyoming isn't very challenging

 But it has warmed up

 Lots of cows

 More rain

 With some sunshine

Our destination

The lady at the Days Inn desk was very friendly and helpful. The room was large and we could park right in front of the outside door. Sandy approved of the bed and pillows. She had taken 493 photos today and I added almost forty more, so my work was cut out for me, but it was all done before 11:00 PM.

My plan for tomorrow had been Powder River Pass and Devil's Tower before settling in to the Black Hills for a couple of days. But I don't have the same tolerance for the road that I used to have, so I suggested to Sandy that we just point ourselves east and go home. She did not object, so we will see what the morning will bring.

Congratulations to my good friend Leo Laframboise on his first hole-in-one on the 3rd hole of Cedar Green Golf Course in Sudbury.

Today's Route (257 Equinox miles):

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