Yellowstone, Part Two. The Mammoth Hot Springs

It’s mid-afternoon and we have gotten through the road work and finally arrive at the upper north area of Yellowstone where the Mammoth Hot Springs are located. THIS is why I wanted to come back.

We start with a drive around the loop at the lower pools.  I don’t even see one of the pools that have been the iconic picture most have seen in photographs taken of Yellowstone, surely taken and shown as often as Old Faithful.  The scenery is stunning however.

This killdeer, a member of the plover family, isn’t about to give up his footbath when I look down on him wading in the bit of warm water. I was a s surprised to see him there as he was to see me up above.

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Around a bend in the narrow one-way 0ne-lane road we come to this …

With the vibrant mule’s ears growing right across the roadway.

Once we come to the end of this loop road, we come to the blue pools. The pools that beckoned me back to Yellowstone, the Mammoth Hot Springs pools with their  blue waters held in shallow, flat bowls of white.

There’s only one that I could see at this lower pool area. We head around the bend and down the mountain in search of the upper pools.

I eagerly walk the wooden paths seeking those gorgeous blue pools I’ve seen in photos advertising Yellowstone in all its glory.  There are no blue pools to be found.  Each and every higher board walk has a sign saying the path is closed. As disappointing as it is, I am grateful that I got photos of the lower pools.

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As we leave the area, heading toward the north entrance/exit the busy, busy, busy little Yellowstone village is dotted with elk walking the streets.  I am so in awe that it doesn’t even occur to me to pick up my camera! We head out and follow the flooded Yellowstone River to the Arch at Gardiner signifying the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

Another exhausting day, and the laundry will once again have to wait!
Our back yard for tonight ends up being at the Carbella BLM campground along the Yellowstone River on Hwy 89.

Thanks for coming along with The Chiweenie Brothers and I on our tour of the “top of the 8”, northern Yellowstone.  Hugs, Shawna

North Yellowstone

June 7, 2018 we are again up early., dogs fed, a quick walk, and we head to West Yellowstone, the little town outside Yellowstone National Park.  I get in the looong drive thru line at McDonalds to grab a coffee. Soooo looking forward to that large coffee after last night with poor little Fries shaking in terror as the thunder and lightning boomed right over the top of us.

I’ve never had a bad cup of coffee from McDs. Until this morning. Worst coffee I have ever tasted; like maybe it was leftover and warmed up from yesterday. Thick, nasty stuff.  But considering the line was long and the wait longer I wasn’t about to ask for some fresh brew. I’ll just make do and get on the road through Yellowstone.  The Mammoth Hot Springs is my ultimate goal for this second trip through this gorgeous park.

For a ways we are on one of the same roads we were on last fall, and I try to get in to see the Norris geysers. They are supposed to be even more impressive than Old Faithful, but like last year the parking lot is jammed packed and there’s not a spot to be had.  *sigh*.  Gee, I hope the rest of the day doesn’t continue on like this!

Soon I begin to notice scenery that I haven’t seen before.  The Chiweenie Brothers perk right up when they see large brown-black beasties in the lush green meadow on our right.

These pools are so lovely, and I even got a shot of a bluebird surveying his territory

 

Dang, I can’t remember what they call this mountain, but it’s pretty spectacular when you considering all that steam and pressure underneath.

The landscape begins to change.  Rugged mountains are the backdrop behind sweet green meadows, clear blue pools and cold lakes.  The vistas are unbelievable.

Then in the blink of an eye yet another change. Boulders are the focus in the forefront of vast vistas spread out before us.

Just beyond this interesting area the road work begins. It’s quite a delay, but I think we arrived just about the right time as I know it wasn’t a 30 minute wait.  It’s quite a project they are working on; looks like not only complete road replacement but adding culverts (perhaps bigger and better).

Even with the traffic, the road work delay, and a muddy mess to drive through in places, it is worth the drive.

Mammoth Hot Springs coming up tomorrow.  Hugs, Shawna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dry Creek Road

From Montpelier Canyon Campground we again head north on Hwy 89 and back into Wyoming. At every turn is a scene I simply must photograph.

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Or a wildflower calls out not to be forgotten.  They are everywhere!
DSC_0048 (2)Surely the westward travelers were uplifted and encouraged by the sights of this area when they marched ever onward toward Oregon and California. How sad it would have been to be too downtrodden with exhaustion to enjoy the beauty around them, those who travelled this area when the grass was new and the wildflowers burst forth.

As we get closer to the little town of Afton, and the even tinier town of Smoot, I begin searching for a forest service road somewhere along the highway in the Bridger-Teton National Forest when I spot Dry Creek Road.

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and with all the rain up north, Dry Creek is anything but Dry. The roaring creek claws at the banks and the roots of the trees and bushes lining its path.

We drive back farther than I like to be without cell service and turn around, heading back to the very first camp site I saw once past the houses on private land.  It’s very shaded!

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We take long walks and long naps, spending two nights here.

 

 

 

 

The boys smell something in the air

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Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs!

CURRENT READ: Sweet Hollow Women   by Holly Tierney-Bedord

 

 

 

Cokeville, Wyoming and Fossil Butte National Monument

We leave Evanston late in the morning, May 23rd, and head north on Wyoming’s HIGHWAY 89! It is a toss-up as to whether to go 189 or 89 ending up in Kemmerer or Cokeville. Considering we drove through Kemmerer late last summer — the mother store of JCPenney Company is located there along with James Cash Penney’s modest home, AND a dog park—I choose to head toward Cokeville, a name that for some reason sticks in my mind.
It’s still early in the day when we arrive at the junction the turn to the left to go to Cokeville, or turn right to go to Kemmerer. I want to see Fossil Butte National Monument so we hang a right and while the boys wait in the van (there’s that abuse again!) I enter the building along with two busloads of school kids to look at the impressive display of fossils.

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The display is well worth the stop, but I decline the five mile loop drive through the area. It has a—GULP—17% grade to deal with. NO! Just no. It looks so benign, but I am not going to question it.  NO WAY! DSC_0001 (2)

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I consider going on into Kemmerer (Fossil Butte N.M. is on a connecting road that links 189 and 89) to let the boys run through the dog park, but decide not to burn the gas and put the extra miles on the van. They’ll get an extra long walk this evening.

We travel back toward the junction and head to Cokeville, a tiny town of about 500 plus residents. We go through some lovely ranching area, and make a quick stop at the Cokeville Wildlife Refuge. A walk out where there is a bench and a lovely view provides me with this great photo opportunity. Unbelievably, I hear the mournful cries of the rare
BOVINE!!!

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What the … ??? *laughing* Not a bird in sight!! Information at the kiosk says the refuge has partnered with some of the ranchers in the area to make the refuge benefit not only wildlife but the livestock of the area as well. The ranchers provide water and plant various grasses that supposedly provides the area with what the wildlife needs to thrive.

Leaving the refuge I begin looking in earnest for the city park in Cokeville where one is allowed to “camp” for two nights. It’s pretty easy to find, the town being so small. It’s right in the town proper, right along—and I do mean right alongside—the very busy rail road tracks. I had intended on spending two nights, but I think one is all we will be able to handle.

The town’s people are very friendly and I did purchase a few items as a thank you for their hospitality, but we leave early the next morning.

I find a spot to stop alongside the highway to make lunch,

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and I pull out the copy of the booklet on what to see and do in Southwest Wyoming I picked up at the visitor’s center in Evanston to read while I eat.

As I thumb through it I come to a very small article on Cokeville. Among this tiny town’s claim to fame is the informal title of “Sheep Capitol of the World” from around 1918 when the industry peaked here with the addition of railroad access, the robbery of the State Bank of Cokeville by the Whitney Brothers, early female political activism when a woman, Ethel Huckvale Stoner, was elected more than 80 years ago (elected to what it doesn’t say!). Cokeville is also known for a miracle that happened in 1986 when a duo consisting of two terrorists trying to blow up the elementary school with classes still in session ended up blowing up just themselves. THAT’S IT! This is why Cokeville rings a bell. I read the book several years ago, Witness to Miracles: The Cokeville Elementary School Bombing giving firsthand accounts of most of the residents who were involved in this terrible attempt to kill children and adults here. I will have to reread it, because most of it I can’t remember.
Hugs, Shawna

NO CAMP!

As we travel on along Hwy 150, the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, we miss maybe one opportunity for a campsite. It’s been a long day and I would like to find a camp, but all I see is private property on both sides of the road.  Eventually we leave the Unintah Mountains and that gorgeous drive behind us an the land levels out into ranch country.

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The Wildflowers are in bloom down here
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Evanston, WY lies ahead

Looks like a Wally night, but that’s okay.  We took one of the most beautiful scenic drives in  America, and a night at Wally is perfectly fine with me.

Thanks for joining us!

Over the Top on Hwy 150, the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway

On Monday, May 21st, we break camp at the beautiful Sulphur Campground and head out to enjoy the remaining miles through this stunning area.

We head even higher in elevation.  At every turn and mile it seems like there is something spectacular to see.

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SLATE GORGE
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PROVO FALLS
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THE POOLS AT THE BOTTOM OF PROVO FALLS

We climb higher and the  landscape changes.

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The road is clear, but the lake I had intended on walking around with the boys is frozen and the ground is still covered in snow. There will be no hiking.

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Hayden Peak

As we tip over the top, a few snow flurries begin to fall , but it is evident that the snow is losing its grip on the land.

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We search for a camp …

HWY 150 MIRROR LAKE SCENIC BYWAY

From Heber City we head north (is there another direction?? 🙂 to find and travel Hwy 150, the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway. We pass some beautiful country along the way.

The Jordanelle Reservoir and the river that feeds it.

Our 4-day visit along Hwy 150 from Kamas, UT to Evanston, WY is unbelievably breathtaking. High in the Uintah Mountains this Scenic Byway winds through three national forests.

We don’t travel far our first day as I was told by the clerk at the Forest Service office in Kamas that although the road is “officially”closed, the road is clear of snow, however, there are still patches of ice here and there, and if we choose to go on, they are not responsible. She suggests finding a camp within the next 13-14 miles and waiting until Monday to travel on.  This sounds good to me!

We find a dispersed campsite right off the highway, just 10 miles or so out of Kamas. Sounds awful, but this time of year traffic is sparse. This time of year in these high mountains, I don’t want to be way out back in the solitude of the forest with three days of storm predicted: 60%, 30%, and 30% respectively. Probably will amount to nothing, but why take the chance?

Yellow Pine dispersed campground has 8-10 campsites with a fire ring, some sites with shade, some in full sun.  The site I covet has already been taken, but we find a decent spot and settle in.

This Friday, May18, 2018 the weatherman is pretty much spot on. We arrive in partial sunshine, and I get the dogs staked outside while I make camp.

DSC_0008 (2) I roll out the mat that is used as our outdoor staging area, put all the extra water jugs on it along with the lounger then hop back in the van and have a bite to eat.

Belly happy I remember that I need to get the solar panel off the top of the hitch tray box and get it out where it will catch a few rays today. I had the vehicle-battery-to-house-battery plugged in while we were driving (thank you C. It’s awesome!!) and the house battery is fully charged by the time we arrive, but now it’s mother nature who will do the work of keeping it charged . . . as soon as the sun comes out again. Thunder is rolling. Time for all of us to nap, me thinks, and I bring the Chiweenie Brothers inside and they curl up straight away and close their eyes.

We awake to a brightening sky and honking Canada geese. The boys and I take a walkabout, and I snap a shot of the mountains across the way.

I can visualize what this looks like in the fall with the gold of the aspen shining bright against the green of the pines.  It’s hard to do Utah justice anywhere within her scenic places.

The wildflowers are beginning to bloom, and an attempt is made to get good shots against the pull of the wild wiener dogs  against their leashes and a camera that takes the same shots whether in landscape mode or close-up … yes, there are still problems, but thankfully it still works! Focus is iffy at times.

We have no cell or internet signal, so I read the rest of the afternoon. The evening is filled with a movie and a TV program selected from what I have downloaded to watch offline for just such occasions.

Goodnight! Hugs, Shawna

CURRENT READ:  Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons.  An excellent book!