Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day Four - Yellowstone

It’s been a VERY long day and I’m exhausted so this will be brief…but that’s NOT a reflection of the day we spent in Yellowstone. In a word - so often repeated, sorry - it was AMAZING.

First, Yellowstone is HUGE! We spent the whole day touring the park - an eleven hour day in total - and we covered approx 300 klm but we barely scratched the surface. We saw all the highlights, though: Old Faithful, LOTS of other geysers and various hot springs, some small and some the size of football fields, huge herds of Bison, a herd of Elk, and a moose. The Bison were the high point though. We saw a huge herd from a distance - easily in the thousands - but a smaller herd crossed the road right in front of us - literally five feet away. It was VERY cool but more than a little frightening since they easily outweighed our bikes two-to-one.

Yellowstone has pretty much every different type of topography you can imagine. High mountain passes (we crossed the continental divide three times, ranging from 8,200 - 8,700 feet.) mountains, huge valley’s, alpine meadow and more lush forest than you can shake a stick at. And the weather was all over the map!
Last night was cold, very cold! It was only two degrees this morning when we got up but during the day we hit temperatures in the 30’s and everything in between. And when we left the park this evening for our run to Idaho we hit a huge rain storm with lightening and hail!

There was only one down side to the whole experience. Yellowstone is one of America’s most popular parks - which is it’s Achilles Heel. It wasn’t too bad in the morning but by mid-afternoon it was bumper-to-bumper. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like on a busy long week-end. And the crowds at some of the attractions were beyond belief. I hate crowds so I’m afraid it really took away from the experience at the end but such is life.

We left the park around 6:00 and made a short run into Idaho just to leave the crowds behind. It was that bad. By the time we left the park we didn’t even want to stay in West Yellowstone - just too much going on and WAY too touristy. So here we are in Ashton Idaho, population ~500. Because we rode through a short but really bad rain and hail storm to get here there’s no camping tonight!

Tomorrow the journey continues…..

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