2022-05-15 Yellowstone Get-a-Way

Eared Grebe - Podiceps nigricollis
My get-a-way drive from Yellowstone National Park carried me along the Yellowstone River. When I spotted a sizable waterfowl raft, I had to stop and visit them for a while.

My stay in Yellowstone began Friday, with a night’s camping at the Madison Campground ten miles from the west entrance to the park. When Saturday morning rolled in, I launched on a drive to Mammoth Hot Springs at the north gate of the park. I passed a couple of “safari-syndrome” crowds on my drive, one of which had a grizzly bear quite near the road. I didn’t stop for the bear because there was no place to park. Unlike some of the folks I met along the drive, I chose not to stop in the middle of the road, and block traffic behind me, until I got my fill of the encounter.

When I reached Mammoth, I discovered a strong cell signal. So I parked below the hot springs and spent a few hours working on my Jackson Hole blogs, before returning to my camp, 34 miles to the south.

I broke camp early Sunday morning and exploited the campground’s facilities to empty and fill my holding tanks. I’d never driven the road from Yellowstone down to the East Gate and on to Cody Wyoming. When I inquired with the staff at my camp, I was told that as of 8pm Saturday, the road was not yet open. However, the sky was clear and sunny, and I hoped that the road might be cleared by the time I got to the pass leading to the park’s eastern gate. When I reached Canyon Village, near the center of the park, I stopped for fuel and asked about the road ahead. To my delight, I was informed that an avalanche two nights earlier had been cleared from the roadway, and I was free to proceed. <Yay>

I didn’t stop for photos until I reached an oxbow bend on the Yellowstone River, where I found a raft of waterfowl next to a wide parking pull-out. I spent enough time there to capture a few fun images before I continued on to Cody.

It being a long downhill drive to town, I set a personal record for fuel economy. I pulled into Cody and saw my average was 21 mpg. I doubt I’ll ever see that again. I don’t believe there are any tall passes on the road ahead, unless I drive over the Going To The Sun road in Glacier NP. I still want to drive north to the Dempster Highway through the Yukon and Northwest Territory, and if I drive north through Montana into the Prairie Provinces of Canada, all the passes I should meet should be minimal, save for those in northern British Columbia and beyond.

As I pen this episode, I’m having breakfast in Billings Montana, still trying to dig myself out of this backlog of story-telling that seems to be my life of late. Yet to tell, are the adventures afforded me in Cody Wyoming and my drive getting here to this largest city in Montana.

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