Occasionally, I come face to face with the consequences of my inherent gift of poor planning. Yellowstone National Park offered me this occasion. After being at my sister’s house for a few days longer than we had planned (and being on somewhat of a schedule to get back to Newberg before school got out for the summer), I determined that even though we hadn’t got out of the house early in the day, we were still going to get on the road and headed toward Yellowstone. We left Rigby about 4 pm and headed through Swan Valley toward Jackson, Wyoming. This was an easy scenic drive, and we arrived in Jackson around six where my brother happened to be for the night.
We visited David for just a little while, and as we prepared to go, he recommended finding a place to stay in Jackson in order to avoid driving to Yellowstone in the setting sun. I stopped at the only RV park we could find in Jackson, but they wanted $75 to park there for the night. This proved to be more than I was willing to pay for the spot he had available. The only other place we stayed for $75 a night was New York City, and feeling like it was still a bit early, I decided to go against David’s recommendation and keep on driving. This was the mistake.
I hadn’t realized that although there were some beautiful mountains, there wasn’t really ANYWHERE else to park for the night between Jackson and Yellowstone.
The sun set as we drove through the snow-capped Tetons which made for a pretty drive, and I was happy to see that Yellowstone was only 45 minutes away. We finally arrived at the park’s entrance not long before total dark and with no ranger at the station, nor available map, we were only able to go off the road signs…which clearly stated that the closest camping to this entrance was 50 miles away!! With speed limits of 30-40 mph, this was going to take a while.
We found ourselves driving through one of the most famous national parks in America with this as our view:
I soon determined that we were missing the whole point of coming to Yellowstone, but signs that said, “DANGER, BEARS…NO OVERNIGHT CAMPING” were signs I took seriously and kept me pressing forward. Eventually, we came to a turn off and I disregarded the AUTHORIZED VEHICLES ONLY sign and found a little nook to sleep for the night. We awoke to an overcast day…but it was light, and light really adds to the Yellowstone experience! 🙂
We’d only been on the road a few short minutes when these guys came strolling by. If I had felt inclined, I could have rolled down my window and given them a pat as they passed by the truck.
We made our way through Yellowstone with several bear sitings along the way. We came upon a mama and her two cubs playing in a meadow. There were probably two dozen photographers with their two foot camera lenses pulled off the road to photograph this little family.
This is when this mama bear implemented a rule for her own two cubs. Whenever we are out of the car looking at bears or bison you have to remember to do one thing: Look to the right and then to the left and make sure at all times you are standing next to someone that you can run faster than. They both assured me that they would stick with me and that they could outrun me without much problem. 🙂
We drove along the east side of Yellowstone, seeing as we’ve been to the old and faithful west side several times when we lived in Shelley. We made our way through the hills of Montana and headed to our last of the lower 48 states….Washington.