Red Lodge, MT to West Yellowstone, MT

Trip Start Mar 04, 2007
Trip End Jun 16, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Montana
Thursday, May 24, 2007

Red Lodge, MT to Yellowstone

Do not believe it when they say that something is open May - September. What they really mean is Memorial Day to Labor Day. I found this out the hard way as the Beartooth Pass going from Red Lodge, MT to Yellowstone was closed after I already got to Red Lodge. No big deal in the scheme of things and the food in Red Lodge is pretty good. I also stayed at a historic hotel, The Pollard, whose cheapest room rate is normally $125 and I got it for $65 because it wasn't the season yet. So, I went back down into Wyoming and entered Yellowstone via Cody, WY.

Remember I said I needed to stay on paved roads . . . well, that lasted all of 10 miles as there was a detour over a gravel, dirt, mud road for several miles but it got worse later . . . stay tuned.

A bit about Cody:
The Buffalo Bill Historic Center is really neat and has a variety of "museums." It's $15 to get in but I walked up, asked for the bathroom and was in without paying . . . I hope this doesn't come back to haunt me Karma wise. I only checked out the Buffalo Bill exhibit feeling a bit guilty.

I had lunch at the Irma Hotel (Irma Cody). The service was terrible but the food wasn't bad and the price was right.

From there I drove on to the Buffalo Bill Dam - awesome - see pictures.

Then it got hairy. The snow started 10 miles outside of Yellowstone and a mile before Yellowstone the road was torn up with a sign that said "Rough Road - next 7 miles." Crap - gravel road, snow, mud . . . but wait it gets worse . . . A mile into Yellowstone, driving 20 mph, I'm stopped. The road was down to one lane with a pilot car taking cars though and I had just missed the last car. I wrote the following while waiting:

Now, I'm sniveling. The road is torn up and it's snowing, "Slick as shit," the road worker said. We're sitting here waiting for a pilot truck to lead us through. I was also just informed that there is a discussion on handing out mace. The grizzlies have been more numerous and on the roads. "It's going to be a rough year grizzlie wise. They'll just pick up your car and take it down to the river for lunch."

I let everyone pass and then brought up the rear going as fast as I dared. The cars kept getting farther away. "Wait for me," I'd wail to no avail. Several miles later we were through and further on back on blacktop but it was still snowing like crazy. It took me 3 hours to get across Yellowstone, an 83-mile trip. With frequent drop offs into canyons or the river, it was the most grueling drive to date - even worse then the 7 hours to Toronto from Montreal. At least if I went of the road there, I'd go into a field, not over a cliff. It took 1 bourbon for the legs to stop shaking, another for my hands to stop and then a beer just to feel like I could breathe. I swear I must have held my breath for most of those 3 hours.
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