Montana to Wyoming, Beartooth Hwy here we come…
Our 10th day of being on the road would be a day to get some miles behind us. We needed to go over 300 miles to get to Bozeman for the night, that way we would be closer to Yellowstone. There wasn’t any sightseeing to be done today. This area looked similar to most areas of the midwest; with large areas of crops going on plains or rolling hills. That night we scored and found a great Chinese Buffet within walking distance of our hotel.
The next day we drove the final leg to Yellowstone, going in from the north entrance, and arrived in Mammoth Hot Springs around 11am. We would be staying at the cabins there. As soon as we drove into the area we were greeted by an elk. Our luck continued as they let us check in early. We unpacked and unhooked the trailer. We didn’t needed any extra weight going up Beartooth Highway. We went to lunch at the Terrace Grill at the same time everyone else in the park did, but the service was fast. We made a quick stop at the visitor center and got the mandatory park sticker to add to the sidecar, then we took off, with all four of us on the sidecar.
We headed east toward the Towers Roosevelt area, then into Lamar Valley. We saw so many animals today we lost count. First there was a lone coyote who looked very sickly at first glance, but then he got more energetic like he saw some food to chase. Next we saw a very young, I might even say a baby bear wandering along side the road. Then we saw hundreds of Bison in Lamar Valley. Frank and I spent the next hour saying Tatonka every time we saw one. We continued out the Northeast entrance of the park and made our way higher and higher up the mountains. Frank and I took turns piloting the Shadow. It kept getting colder and colder, and the threat of rain was following us a little too closely. We put all our extra layers on, and we set up the kids with jackets. We also have a system for them in very cold weather. We lay a heated vest over their laps (turn it on of course) then cover that with a fleece blanket, and they say nice and toasty warm.
We got to the top, to an elevation of 10,947 feet. There was very little traffic up there, and very few bikes. The threat of cold and wet had kept people away. We are never that smart. The weather finally caught us and we put on our rain gear and headed back down. We were literally in the clouds so the going was slow. Our visibility had dropped since we were battling the cloud “fog”, rain, and the fogged up helmet visors. It is always an adventure isn’t it?
We made our way back down the mountain, back into the park and down into Lamr Valley were it stopped raining and the sun came out. We were again gifted the opportunity to see more animals. This time when we passed through the Bison were super close to the road, so we got some great shots. The kids got a little nervous about how big and close they were, but they loved to see the baby bison. Later on down the road we had our third bear siting of the trip. This one had a tracking collar, or by now we joked that the animals had their own wifi hotspot. Finally we drive back into Mammoth Hot Springs and are welcomed by an entire herd of elk. So overall an amazing day of animal encounters. We pulled in just before dark, and finished the day with a lovely dinner at the Mammoth Hot Springs Dining Room. We all slept well that night, dreaming of Tatonka.
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