June 29 - Yellowstone to Red Lodge MT

Broke camp at Canyon Village CG and headed north toward Tower Falls and the Northeast park entrance. Everyone in Yellowstone was happier today due to the bright yellow warm sun. First bright day in many.

First of many highlights today was a good, relatively close, sighting of a grizzly bear... brownish/copper-ish in color, large in size. Found along Grand Loop Road just south of the Tower Falls area. Got a few good shots, er..., pictures. It was unmistakably a grizzly per the hump on his shoulders.

We stopped at Roosevelt Lodge near Tower Junction for breakfast. We get a kick from consuming food and/or drink at the old lodges in whatever park we happen to be exploring... and we'd never been to this one. It's not my thing to comment about food on this blog, but for some reason (atmosphere? sunny day? good mood? or ??) my scrambled eggs with chilies and jack cheese was notable. Too many people overcook scrambled eggs. These were perfect.

The Lodge itself is a small rustic timber structure surrounded by many cabins rented to guests of more modest means than those who stay at the grand lodges or hotels in the Park. Although Roosevelt (Teddy) never stayed in the eponymous lodge, he did camp in the area during his 1903 visit.

From the Lodge we headed northeast on US-212... the Beartooth Highway... and through the Lamar Valley. Home to a wide variety of wildlife, we saw thousands of bison during our transit, and a few elk and deer. Those who are more persistent in their sighting efforts can be rewarded with bear, mountain lion, wolves, and more. It's a well known hotspot for wildlife sightings.

During our drive out today we checked out a couple park campgrounds. Tower Falls, which I have the recollection of having stayed at during our 1974 trip (Dar's not so sure) got a big thumbs down from us. Pebble Creek CG closer to the northeast park entrance got a bigger thumbs UP. Maybe next time.

Soon after leaving the Park we found Cooke City MT. US-212 between there and Red Lodge MT is known as the Beartooth Highway. It's an "All American Road" (whatever that is) made famous by Charles Kurault (remember his "On the Road..." series?) who dubbed it "the most beautiful drive in America". This is another place I've been yearning to see for many years.

And it certainly didn't disappoint. Due to the nearly 11,000 ft. elevation of it's summit, this road is only open for a few months in the warmer months. Snow storms can pop up any month of the year. There's one 12 mile section where the elevation changes by 5,200 ft! Much of the road is narrow with no shoulders. But the views and vistas are spectacular. It's only 69 miles from Cooke City to Red Lodge but we managed to gawk-away almost four hours. And we can't wait to do it again... from east to west next time.

We snagged the last available campsite at Parkside CG (NFS) a few miles west of Red Lodge.


Miles today: 136
Camp: Parkside CG NFS
Elevation: 7,000 ft.
Location: N45.059 W109.708

Here are a few pics from our day... but I'd encourage you to check out all the images in our online album here (click)

Our big ol' bear

on the porch of Roosevelt Lodge in Yellowstone

almost 11,000 feet