Saturday, June 9, 2012
THE ROAD TO YELLOWSTONE
Early Monday morning, June 4th, we reluctantly left Rocky Mountain National Park. We headed west through Estes Park following the Big Thompson River through the Big Canyon. We drove from over 8000 feet in elevation down to about 5000 feet on Highway 34 which was 20 curvy miles with a lot of switch backs . The sheer magnitude of the canyon walls dwarfed us while the mesmerizing flow of the river gave us a sense of calm.
Our journey took us into Wyoming where we immediately saw a sculpture of a bison atop a cliff. Along the way we continued to see other sculptures: cowboy riding a horse, a jackalope, and a dinosaur. What’s a jackalope you say? It’s cross between a jack rabbit and an antelope..you mean you’ve never seen one? Huh! The sculptures were so high up on the cliffs you could see them from miles. The cattle and horses along the road, blended with the oil wells and wind farms off in the distance. Eventually, we came to rock formations similar to Mesa Verde with its mesas and chiseled, layered strata. The elevation was climbing back up to about 7500 feet and we were chugging round the bends.
After about 7 hours, we came to our destination of Boysen State Park and learned that it is situated in the Wind River Shoshone Indian Reservation. We camped in the Lower Wind River Campground which nestled next to the Wind River and was virtually empty. There were only 2 other campers there for the night. There was a train that came through a tunnel in the rocks several times through the night and in the morning and the noise from the highway next to us, kept Tim awake. I slept like a log.
The following morning (Tuesday the 5th) we headed out through 3 tunnels carved out of the mountain for Yellowstone through Cody and in to the park by the East Entrance where we saw a bison for the first time right next to the entry booth. As we followed the road to Bridge Bay Campground, we saw majestic views of the snow covered mountains over several different lakes and wound our way through Sylvan pass. The more spectacular view of the mountains was over Yellowstone Lake which is North America’s largest high altitude lake. It has 141 miles of shoreline, is 20 miles long by 14 miles wide and its deepest spot is 410 feet with an average depth of 60 feet. In mid -August the surface temperature can reach up to 60 degrees and the bottom temperature never rises above 42 degrees. I guess we won’t be swimming in that lake! The wind was high and the white caps were whipping across the lake. It even looked cold!
We arrived at the campground around 2 pm. We were kind of disappointed that the sites were so close together so we found one that was a little more apart and requested to be moved to it which they agreed to. I guess we got spoiled in the Rocky Mountain National Park as well as most of our previous campgrounds with large, private sites. We’ll be checking out the other campgrounds tomorrow. We don’t have wifi and phone service except in one certain spot in the Park about 7 miles southwest of the Bay Bridge Campground (elevation 7735) and right on the Lake shore. So it will take us longer to get the blogs done and published. We called the children and gave them an emergency number in case they had to reach us. So communcations should be good overall.
That night Tim attempted to go to the Ranger talk on guess what..fishing. I say “attempted” because it had been sleeting and hailing as they predicted, but it had stopped for a short while. It started up again, the talk was canceled and Tim returned wet and cold from the Ampitheather. The heater was working so he quickly warmed up. We had run the generator earlier so that we thought the batteries would be okay all night, but that was not the case. By 10:30pm we had no battery power which meant no heat or lights for the night. Since we can only run the generator between 8am and 8pm, we were out of luck for the night. We bundled up and went to bed. We'll see what tomorrow brings.