the Gooseberry Badlands in Wyoming
Friday we left Mt Rushmore with Yellowstone National Park as our final destination; well, really Gardiner right outside of Yellowstone. We chugged along knowing it was going to be a bit of a long drive. As we were driving, signs started showing up mentioning how to get to Yellowstone. Though we were still several hours away, the signs were letting us know what roads we could take. One such sign mentioned the most scenic route to Yellowstone via the Bighorn Scenic Highway. We decided to take the scenic route via U.S. west 14.
We climbed up into the Bighorn Mountains, reaching the scenic highways peek at Powder Pass (elev. 9,666). Though it was slow going because of all the uphill, it was quite the scenic route. Going up the mountain, we went through part of the Bighorn National Forest, however coming down the other side was completely different. I think it was part of the Bighorn Canyon because we were surrounding by jutting cliffs. It really was amazing.
As we continued on through Wyoming, the scenery changed from mountain ranges to farmlands, from farmlands to badlands (like the one pictured above), and from badlands back to mountain ranges. We had asked a local once we left Bighorn for the best route to Gardiner. He suggested a few but we took the most scenic and his favorite. I am glad we did. Though our very large detour added several hours onto our driving, it was well worth the extra time.
Saturday morning we arose ready to explore Yellowstone for a good portion of the day. We entered into Yellowstone via the north entrance. Our destination was Old Faithful and we stopped along the way at Mammoth Springs and the Norris Geiser Basin. We headed out the West exit once we had stopped at Old Faithful, the Midway Geiser and had pulled over for a small hike. I do have to tell you that we did get to see Old Faithful go off. We had parked, walked to where Old Faithful was, sat down and within 2 minutes she went off. It was pretty amazing not just to see it, but that we didn’t have to wait very long for it!! It enabled us to stop several times on our way out of the park to explore some different areas.
We left Yellowstone in the early afternoon and headed for Helena, Montana. While on the road, one of our friends from New York contacted the huzband about a place to stay in Helena. Turns out his parents lived there and they were more than willing to host us for the night. What a wonderful blessing to stay with Dale and Florence. They are those kind of people who love on you instantly and you feel as if you have known them most of your life. It’s a rare gift and we felt so honored to spend time with them. They have such a deep and beautiful history from living and working the land of Montana (they were farmers) to serving in the Korean War. We are so thankful to have made such wonderful new friends and look forward to passing through Montana again! =)
Below are some pictures from our drive to Gardiner as well as our time in Yellowstone. All the pictures are from my iPhone since I haven’t gotten around to going through the ones on my camera.
a burned up part of the Black Hills National Forest
I drove us up to Powder River Pass. Um, it was steep.
trying not to drive us into the canyon
our surroundings driving down and out of the Big Horn Mountains
We were driving through yet another small town and pulled over to grab some dinner when we saw this place. It looked cute, funky and there were people sitting outside eating (always a good sign). I tried their chicken tostado’s and can I say WOW was it DELICIOUS!! If you ever find yourself passing through Red Lodge, Montana, make sure to stop by Mas Taco for a bite to eat!
somebody was eyeing my dinner
we made it to Gardiner, Montana late at night and was up, ready to explore Yellowstone the next morning
a small herd of bison greated us on our way into the park
yes that is a big ol’ piece of poop and they are everywhere in Yellowstone
and a buffalo to say goodbye on our way out