27 September 2009

Thermopolis to Cody to Gardiner, Montana

After climbing in Tensleep Canyon, we had a nice stop at Thermopolis (map). Thermopolis (thermopolis.com) has a lot of cool things nearby but we were after the hot springs! The State Bath House is free but we went next door for the big slide. Julia has been here before. There's no talking her out of the big slide. The big slide used to be really fast and scary. Too fast in my opinion. They must have reduced the water flow because it was not so bad now - or maybe I'm getting bolder in my old age!

We ended up camping West of Cody at Buffalo Bill State Park. We found a beautiful camp on the lake and Julia could ride her bike around. Cody is a pretty cool tourist town - one of the larger towns in the state at a population about 9300. We climbed for half a day before heading North on one of the most scenic drives I've done in years. The Chief Joseph Scenic Highway links Cody, WY & Cooke City, MT. One of the impressive places we drove is over a bridge spanning the Clark's Fork (of the Yellowstone, of course).

Last time I was in Cooke City was a summer between college years - late '70s. Cooke City is still a small town but bigger than I remember. It is hemmed in by mountains. Sun is scarce. I'm sure the winter population is under a 100. On that trip, it was a jumping point into the Beartooth Mountains - a 10 day mountaineering trip - and what a trip!

We drove throught the Silver Gate (NE gate) into Yellowstone. Fascinating! In the 1st 2 hours we saw a black bear, a bear that was brown that might have been a small grizzly, hundreds of buffalo, a pronghorn antelope and an elk. Yeah, it was evening - the viewing time but still ...

Yellowstone camping was filled so we continued to Gardiner, MT, (map) and looked for a camp site. The official ones were full. So we headed North on logging roads looking for perfect site .. and looking. We didn't find the perfect site but we found a damn good one. With the clouds rolling in and out and the view .. well, make sure you click on the picture below.

I have to say, we were a bit worried about Grizzly. This was Griz country for sure and there was no one around for 10 miles. We cleaned up and packed everything in the truck. As we went to sleep, I heard a long, drawn out sound. Not really a howl but sort of. I know what fox, lions and bears sound like but this was different. I went to sleep dreaming of wolves!

More pics here - includes the rest of Yellowstone we saw (a very small portion).


Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,
I just came across your blog. I'm fascinated in your camper . Can you tell me more about it? Model, Make etc.
Steve C.
Ontario, Canada

Steve Mestdagh said...

Hi Steve,
I wasn't notified of your comment so sorry for the late reply. It's a Callen Camper (http://www.callencamper.com/ ) but the site seems to be down now. They are out of San Diego. They build what you want. More info here: http://expeditionportal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=28099