RV Trip 2015 - Wyoming & Utah - Part 2 of 4


Day 11, Friday, 09/18/15

Today we will tackle the Lower Loop of Yellowstone. It’s still really cold, but at least no rain. Decided to go clockwise, hoping that we might have some sun in the afternoon, which would definitely be better for viewing Grand Prismatic Spring.

The photos in this section highlight the following spots we visited: Sulphur Cauldron, Mud Volcano, Dragon’s Mouth, West Thumb Geyser Basin, Old Faithful Geyser, Midway Geyser Basin (home of the Grand Prismatic Spring), and Firehole Lake Drive.

Sulphur Cauldron

Mud Volcano

Dragon’s Mouth

There was a fair amount of snow on the ground today, as well as on tree branches, etc. Very scenic! And we saw plenty of bison and elk again.

West Thumb Geyser Basin

We stayed long enough at Old Faithful Geyser to watch an eruption from the outdoor deck of the bar at the Old Faithful Inn.

Midway Geyser Basin

Under different weather conditions, the Grand Prismatic Spring is a spectacular sight. So sorry we didn’t get to see it in all its glory while we were there, partly due to the cloudy skies, and partly because the cold air caused the warm springs to create lots of steam that obscured the view. Click here to see what this colorful phenomenon looks like in fair weather.

Grand Prismatic Spring

Firehole Lake Drive

Exiting the park was really slow-going (because everyone constantly stops to look at the wildlife alongside the road), and we fretted as the minutes ticked by, knowing we would not be able to make the 5:00 deadline for returning the rental car (which we were able to do simply by leaving it at the RV park). We parked it at the RV campground office around 5:20--the gal inside said she’d tell the car company that we had it back by the 5 pm deadline. Woohoo! (Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park, $38/night)

Day 12, Saturday, 09/19/15

We took off for Grand Teton National Park, passing through Yellowstone one more time. Got held up for about 10 minutes by a bison strolling slowly down the road. He was lumbering along in front of the cars going the other direction. It kind of looked like he was leading a parade! Cooper was sitting on top of the ‘living room’ sofa and witnessed it all! I shot a short video of the bison from my seat. Too bad I hadn’t thought to move to the sofa and/or included some footage of Cooper looking on with something like fear, or maybe astonishment, on his face.

We crossed the Continental Divide three times today, what with the way the road wound through the mountains in that area.

Once we entered Grand Teton National Park, we stopped many times to take in the view and take photos of those beautiful, snow-capped mountains.

One of the overlooks had a sign identifying the three tallest peaks seen from there, including Grand Teton, and it was interesting to spot them over and over again looking quite different from some very different vantage points.

The spot Chris had chosen for this night was ‘Gros Ventre’ (pronounced Grow Vaunt), not far from Jackson/Teton Village, and a spot where reviewers/bloggers practically guaranteed seeing moose.

And we did! Finally! When we checked in and asked the ranger about current moose sightings, she said they’d been near the amphitheater all afternoon, and still were as of a half hour ago. So while Chris filled our freshwater tank there by the office, I set off on foot with a camera (sans binoculars, darn it) for the amphitheater. As I approached, there was no doubt they were still there, for the area was crowded with photographers and other onlookers. It was a group of five, one male and his harem. A couple of females were on their feet grazing, but the others were all lying down.

Excited with my initial viewing, I then headed over to our assigned camp site to meet Chris and help him back in to our spot. (We had several pull-through sites on this trip, but there were still a lot of spots where backing in was required.)

As soon as we were set, we got on our bikes, with cameras and binoculars, and headed back to the amphitheater. They were still there and we stood and watched (and took photos) for quite a while. There were several photographers with professional-looking equipment, and we sort of wished we had ours (although we never had a telephoto lens as long as any of theirs).

Then finally, the moment everyone was (apparently) waiting for, the big male moved. He stood up and the cameras started clicking. He slowly, oh so slowly, made a circle, grazing very briefly, and then laid right back down. And just like that, all the photographers swept up their cameras and tripods, and the place cleared out in about 2 minutes. One woman had been there waiting for such a shot for two hours, while another photographer’s timing couldn’t have been better, just five minutes.

We decided to add a 2nd night here, and have a leisurely day tomorrow in Jackson/Teton Village, and hopefully additional moose sightings.

Day 13, Sunday, 09/20/15

Chris saw a lone female moose this morning nearby through the kitchen window. (I wasn’t up yet, darn it.)

With our morning routine complete, we set up our ‘traffic cones’ and ‘Occupied’ sign in our site (even though it was reserved, the rangers recommended leaving some evidence that the site was occupied). We drove down the main drag in Jackson and headed on up to Teton Village.

We rode the aerial tram up to the top of Rendezvous Mountain at around 10,500 ft. This tram is the highest vertical rise (4,139 feet) of any tram in the country.

Then it was back into Jackson for lunch and window shopping. We had a nice lunch at Snake River Brewpub. The slogan on their t-shirts is, “Put our river through your liver.” Love it. We did some window while heading back in the direction of where the coach was parked, and decided to stop in one of the shops to look for a souvenir shot glass.

When we got back to camp, we got on the bikes again and rode through the campground looking for the moose. Unfortunately, there were no sightings to be had this afternoon. (Gros Ventre Campground, $24/night)

Day 14, Monday, 09/21/15

In the morning, before checking out, we rode our bikes over to the rangers’ office to ask if the moose had been seen yet this morning. We were told they were hanging out off Loop E, the Employee/Resident loop. We found Loop E, and the sign sort of said we were not supposed to go there, but we decided maybe they meant motor vehicles, and that on foot or on bicycles might be OK. Well, they actually meant everybody, and we got booted out, but we saw the moose anyway.

As we headed out of the area, we stopped in Jackson for some groceries at a very large Albertson’s and some miscellaneous items at K-Mart. (I had brought from home all the meat we would need--fitting it in the freezer was no small task--but we did need to stop occasionally for dairy and produce.)

Our destination for this evening was the Fontenelle Recreation Area, WY. It was a bare-bones campground, but they did have water and we were able to fill our fresh water tank (with the aid of the “water thief” gadget). They actually had little curved canopies (made of metal) sheltering a picnic table at each camp site. OK, so maybe bare-bones is a misnomer. It was still pretty barren, looking like the desert, except for the water.

We chose a nice spot overlooking the very large reservoir. We were practically the only ones there, well, except for the rabbits. It was fun watching them at dusk as they appeared to come from all over, but heading in the same direction, as if to converge in some unseen spot, perhaps for the night. (Fontonelle Recreation Area, $7/night)

Day 15, Tuesday, 09/22/15

Today we headed south out of Wyoming and into Utah, passing through Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area along the way.

Definitely some scenic views on this drive, especially the stretches where you could see part of the 91-mile long Flaming Gorge Reservoir.