On Bear Watch

Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
Trip End Nov 28, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yellowstone National Park

Wednesday  June 15

The drive up to Yellowstone National Park took us thru several states - Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana.  The drive was long but very beautiful with each state having their distinct differences.  Traveling from ocean to desert to mountains capped with snow and forests. Towns with a reach ranch feel to trailer parks and beautiful homes. 

Finally arrive at Yellowstone National Park after a very long day 15 hours driving and Tom is really buggered!  Cannot believe that there are whole towns and villages in the National Park.  We were expecting extreme isolation and wilderness.  We took at break at West Yellowstone and was surprised to find quite a large town.  We wandered around in our shorts freeing cold attracting more than a few stares as most people were geared up in their snow clothes.  The village had a real mountain cabin atmosphere.  I bought thermals and Tom got a great deal on some hiking boots for $35++.  Driving on into the camping areas at the park were told that the first six camp grounds were full.  Great 15 hours driving and no bloody spot to park.  We had hoped to camp in the very first camp ground at Madison or Norris rather than having to drive another 34 miles to the actual rv park.  Must have been a divine intervention as just passed these camp grounds and around the first bend we encountered five bison strolling on down the middle of the road single file.  It was absolutely an amazing sight.  Traffic queued up both sides to allow them to pass.  Apparently sunset/sunrise is the best time to sight the wildlife in the park so it was meant to be.  It might be the best time to view the wildlife however Tom reckons the most dangerous time to be driving.  These bison are huge!  Way way bigger than cows.  At the 23 mile mark which was the first apparently available camp site at Canyon however arrived to find the camp full.  Did not look full to us camp office just closed and camp rangers not very helpful, quite rude and insisted there were no vacancies.  After the 34 miles and more bison wandering everywhere, as well as elk, we finally arrived at the RV camp Fishing Bridge.  Please God let there be a vacancy!  Yes two spots out of 354 sites available decided on lot 334 although I wanted to go to lot 318 - Driver wins always does.  He must be psychic as drove past 318 and someone was already in there. Although this camp site was really great with laundry and little village also very close to the Yellowstone lake, there was no power and generators were only allowed to be operated between 8am - 8pm.  Considering it does not get dark until about 10pm this peeved us off a bit because we would go out early and get back late to take in the sights in the park.  Never mind we survived.  One night Tom decided he was working on Pacific time not Mountain time and ran the generator until 9pm - he is a rebel sometimes.  Must be where Josh gets it from!  The park rules are very strict regarding leaving any food or items that leave any type of odor as the bears are everywhere and had been seen in the park.  Rangers constantly patrolled and fined anyone who did not comply.  Fair enough.
Spent two full days in Yellowstone and managed to get to see most of the park coming in on the west side staying over the east side near the lake and traveled down to the south side.  Every camp sight had a little village, with stores, ranger lead programmes, amphitheater etc. We have seen a documentary on this place and it really lived up to our expectations.  The wildlife was amazing, bison, elk, black bears (yes we saw one in its natural habitat), birds along with forests, hot springs, geysers and the lake.  At some of the camp villages there were lodges totally unbelievable that the place is a national park and has these residential areas even a post office in it.  It is a huge national park, with over 1000 miles of hiking tracks and the highest elevation being over 7000ft.  No wonder the RV was a juice guzzler!  The roads were very good quite winding.  It was still very cold, overcast, snow and ice everywhere still and more snow was forecast.  The park is also popular in winter with the only access in by snowmobile. The ski season is still open with reports that it will remain open until after the 4th July holiday which is very rare.  A lot of the smaller hiking tracks were still closed due to snow which pleased Tom greatly. One evening we thought we would wander into the amphitheater for the nightly ranger programme on the big screen.  Off we set on foot with our junior ranger camp mugs Tom insisted on buying and a bottle of red wine.  All set to sit back by the pit fire and view the nights session.  On the walk over it started to snow!  It was unbelievable we were snowed on.  Snow is not what I thought it would be.  I was expecting soft fluffy something, in fact is it very wet and hard!  Anyway onto the amphitheater, guess what the rangers powerpoint presentation would not work and so we were delegated to the inside hut listening to her talk about bloody ravens.  No pit fire, no big screen, no red wine.  We now know all about how vital ravens and crows are to the eco system and that all the bird life is named after Lewis & Clark!  Want to know who Lewis and Clark are? No you don’t.  At least we got snowed on.  Wandering home very late at night from the ranger talk Tom did  make his own trail through the vegetation and snow to relieve himself so that was his hiking adventure.  We found is quite amazing that you can camp in this environment with the wildlife just wandering around you in their own territory.  Quite often Bison were just walking around in the park quite unfazed by the people around.   Wandering down to the laundry I saw a Bison entering the park and a lady on a pushbike to the right of me just about to turn the corner straight into the path of the Bison.  It was the most hilarious thing to see her turn the corner, freak out and detour around the huge beast.  The laundry at this camp site was the funniest thing whole families were in there doing their washing.  About ten washers and ten dryers, I could not believe it.  Tom did not join me to help with the laundry, I only had my wine in the junior ranger cup to keep me company! Maybe husbands helping with the laundry is an American thing.

Left Yellowstone Friday via the north so got to see that side also.  Leaving behind the snow capped mountains was a bit sad the scenery so beautiful.  Left just in time though as the area was on flood alert.  
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