Our route today represents a ring out of the Eastern entrance towards Cody then on to Cooke City before passing through the Lamar valley and back out East again. A relatively light day we took it easy and stopped, often for an hour or more to spot wildlife especially as we traversed the famous Lamar valley.
To be honest, I found the Eastern entrance road the most boring of the lot. That said, the views across Lake Yellowstone from Fishing Bridge along the shoreline were quite impressive. Our accommodation at Shoshone Lodge was just a few a miles outside of the Eastern entrance, on a map it looks perfectly situated but in reality it's 1hr-1.5hr from anywhere 'famous' in the park and this latency will easily add 2-3hrs driving to your day.
We're going to write up our experiences of the park into an informal visitors guide so I'll save some more of my thoughts on where to stay for that.
We rose quite late and ended up in Cody, 1hr East of the lodge around lunchtime. A super cool, cowboy themed town we decided to visit Cody more thoroughly tomorrow and whilst we're there take in a Rodeo! Lunch was a solid 8/10 and consisted of Pizza at Millstones Pizza and Brewing.
Highway 212 was our companion as we headed toward Cooke City. Along the way the red rocks we thought we'd left behind in Utah came to the surface once more. Man, they look even better in a greener (non-desert) climate don't they?
The road skirts around the back of the mountains that form the back of the bowl that is Yellowstone. I absolutely adore being able to see weather and we sat in the car atop this pass watching the distant snow showers (in June!).
The highway descends rapidly into the valley below from here. Very lightly populated the mountains around here are remarkably unspoiled.
As somewhat of a doppelgänger for the Matterhorn this is Beartooth mountain.
The North East entrance to the park is a tiny little thing. Only 2 lanes and a tiny hut compared with some of the others it felt very cute. Presumably the size of the entrance station is an indication as to the traffic levels each gate receives.
The road from the North East entrance leads directly through Lamar Valley. A very famous place in park for watching wildlife. After the magnificent show the park put on yesterday it was unlikely we'd top it but we did watch many herds of Bison, Elk and more wandering up and down the valley.
There were groups with binoculars and sights as well as photographers too. Some had radios to communicate sightings amongst each other which I though was a great idea. Next time, I'll try to get a radio too.
On the way back over Dunraven pass towards sunset we joined the back of a traffic jam. The sort that means only one thing, a bear. This cute little fella was sunning himself fast asleep in the sunshine.
Canyon Village served as our dinner spot for the evening. More of those delicious noodles. The lodge here has 'internet'. I use the term lightly as it's really only just about dial-up speeds if you can get connected in the first place.
As we sat and ate our dinner a chap sat down next to us and pulled out his phone. I thought nothing of it until he slammed it down on the table and started stabbing the display with his finger muttering expletives just loud enough for us to hear. Again, I ignored it because it was actually pretty frustrating - although plenty good enough for a quick telegram messages and emails.
5 more minutes elapsed and this time he rocked back in his chair throwing his arms up, neck back and exhaling deeply before this time increasing the expletive volume to a very audible level (kids were all around us). He promptly stood up and stomped, and I do mean stomped, out like a little kid. The guy was easily 25.
As we left we caught sight of the chap headed back in for another round. This time armed with a tablet instead of his meagre phone. I doubt the end result was any different.
It might surprise some of you knowing my tech habits that being almost completely disconnected this week has actually been really rather refreshing. It did make getting blogs out a little more tricky than I'd have liked but that really was the only downside. I felt more present. Was able to focus more on editing photos in the evenings and slept better. Not sure if that last one is because I relaxed or whether it's unrelated. Who knows. What I do know is that I really enjoyed myself this week and didn't feel like I was missing out on anything by only being able to message friends and family every day or two.
The East entrance of the park is just around the next bend. The road plunges from 8000ft down to around 6000ft in a few short miles dramatically hugging the sides of a canyon. It makes for a pretty drive and the setting sun just caught the tops of these mountains.
Tomorrow, we're going to go back to Cody and visit the Rodeo! Yeehaw!!