Tag Archives: Yellowstone National Park

Touring is hard work… time to take a day off! [1 Aug] (Shoshone National Forest, Rex Hale Campground)

Since we’ve been on the road touring Yellowstone for the last three days, we decided to pay for another day here at Rex Hale Campground, and just relax for the day and maybe plan our next move.


So we got up late and just hung out in the campground.  I used some of the time to wash a few sections of the Coach and then the Harley.

I also downloaded all the Road Mate DVR clips onto the laptop.  I’ve been using it in the Silverado on our trips through Yellowstone but I don’t think the 2-minute video clips are conducive to using on the blog since most of the files are between 200 and 300 MB in size.  I wrote about purchasing this while we were at the FCRV Campvention Rally in Gillette.  As I mentioned in that post: “These devices normally mount on your dashboard or windshield to record your trip. The advertisement claims that they are designed for your security, protection, and save the best memories of your trip.”  This is all good, but I don’t think I can use any of it in the blog unless I can get the sizing down.  More on this in the future maybe…

We also took a long walk and checked out the North Fork Shoshone river that runs next to the campground…






Our grandson Kaan played a lot of MineCraft on his X-Box during the day.

Here he took a break from his video games and played with little Coach…

Little Coach has Kaan down for the count.

And later we burned, I mean toasted, a few marshmallows to make some S’mores.

Kaan toasting some marshmallows (again).

Life is good…


This is how little Coach enjoys a campfire.




And that was our day.  Hope yours was good too 🙂

Authors Note:  Almost caught up now… check back for an update on our moving day (2 Aug) to Thermopolis, WY where we are now…

Yellowstone National Park [31 July] (Shoshone National Forest, Rex Hale Campground)

On Friday the 31st of July, we got another early start so we could tour the northern loop of Yellowstone NP.


We drove into the park one final time, through the east entrance and over Sylvan Pass.

And then we turned right at Fishing Bridge to do a counter-clockwise loop around the northern or ‘ Upper Grand Loop‘ of the park.

But first, we stopped at the Fishing Bridge General Store to get a fishing license.  Kaan wanted to try his luck, and well – so did I 🙂  The license was $18 and is valid for 3 days.  Kaan didn’t need a license as long as he’s with me, however, the nice clerk gave him a souvenir license anyway.


We stopped at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River once again because we missed the Inspiration Point drive when we were here before.  Now, I think we’ve seen it all.







After turning north at Canyon Village, we passed by some more falls;  Tower Falls.  It required a little hike, but it was worth it.




And after a very scenic drive in a counter-clockwise direction along the northern grand loop, we made it to Mammoth Hot Springs.


Of course, we stopped at the visitors center and toured the wildlife displays but a large section was closed due to an unexpected power outage.  Oh well, off to the Upper Terrace Drive we went…







We took some of the boardwalks to see the magnificent area.



This little geyser popped up through the asphalt in one of the parking areas.  They blocked it off with the concrete barriers.  The scenery here is always changing due to the geo-thermal conditions.



View of the Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District and Fort Yellowstone in the distance from the Upper Terraces area.  Interesting history here from my friend wikipedia™.



A small deer was hanging out near the hot springs.









Kaan just had to touch the water to see how hot it was…  don’t worry, no damage was done to either himself or the environment.



After spending time at Mammoth Hot Springs, we continued on our counter-clockwise loop until we found a picnic area.  Stilla packed us some lunch as she had each day prior, but this time we needed a picnic table to make our sandwiches and cut up our vegetables.  Sheepeater Cliff was a really unique and picturesque area and we had it all to ourselves for quite a while.








We continued on past Norris and then back to Canyon Village where we had started our northern loop.  We did it!  We finished the whole park… it took us 4 trips, but it was worth it 🙂

By now, Kaan was getting pretty antsy about putting a pole in the water since we got our license earlier at the Fishing Bridge General Store.  So we stopped along the Yellowstone River between Canyon Village and Fishing Bridge.


We followed the rule book that we got along with the license and pinched down the barb on our artificial fly.  Kaan had fun but quickly got bored when we didn’t catch anything.  We had to use a clear bobber so the line had some weight in order to throw it out in the current from the shoreline.  Probably not the best method of fly-fishing but Kaan had fun.





Coyote across the river.  Little “Coach” didn’t like him and barked out the window.  But, he does that for the buffalo too.  As a matter-of-fact, he does that for all wildlife 🙂


We made it back to our campground (almost 200 miles driven today) and had another enjoyable quiet evening without internet or cell phones.  Although, Kaan always has the X-Box hooked up the back TV so he can entertain himself for hours with MineCraft.


Authors Note: We’re currently in Thermopolis, WY and I’m trying to get the blog up to date… check back soon for an update on our day of rest at the campground (1 Aug) and our drive here to Thermopolis (2 Aug).  Today (3 Aug) we plan on visiting the hot springs here and maybe the dinosaur museum.


Yellowstone National Park [30 July] (Shoshone National Forest, Rex Hale Campground)

On Thursday the 30th we got an earlier start to the day and decided we were finally going to finish the lower loop by turning left at Fishing Bridge and go past Old Faithful, which we saw on our first day.


We drove the 16 miles from our campground to the East Entrance again.


By the way – Here’s a sign listing all the campgrounds within the park.  Most are managed by a subcontractor called Xanterra Parks & Resorts Inc.  It would be nice to stay at one of the campgrounds within the park and cut down the travel time.  We have to travel about 27 miles from the East Entrance to Fishing Bridge over Sylvan Pass each day.  But that’s OK 🙂

Campground sign at the East Entrance to Yellowstone NP.

This time we took the 1 mile turnoff up Late Butte Overlook when we got close to Yellowstone Lake.  We’d passed this Overlook on our other trips into the park.


As I mentioned before, the east side still shows heavy fire damage from the 1988 ‘Summer of Fire‘.


Kaan, Stilla, and little Coach at Lake Butte Overlook, Yellowstone NP.
David, Stilla, and little Coach at Lake Butte Overlook, Yellowstone NP.
Odd looking burnt tree at Lake Butte Overlook, Yellowstone NP.

This time we also stopped at the Fishing Bridge Visitors Center.


The visitors center had a pretty cool raised-relief map laid out on a table.


And this visitors center’s theme was on the fires in Yellowstone.




Yellowstone Lake behind the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center.





Stilla & David at Yellowstone Lake.

After crossing Fishing Bridge, we turned west to do our clockwise lower loop tour.


By the way – I think they need to rename Fishing Bridge to “No-Fishing Bridge” since it is permanently closed to fishing.  That’s just false advertising, don’t you think?

We stopped along the lake a couple more times since the route skirts the northwest edge of the lake until you get to West Thumb.






Here’s another picture of one of the cool old buses that still take people on tours.  We saw these many times during our visit to the park.  A 1936 National Park Bus.


We passed by Old Faithful since we saw it on Monday and stopped at Black Sand Basin… one of the many geyser stops along the route.










And we stopped at more geysers…



And waterfalls…



And more geysers…



Here’s an Elk trying to hide during the day from the masses of people trying to take pictures (us included).


During one of our stops, Kaan was startled by this female Elk hanging out in a heavily wooded pull-off.




And here’s some more pictures of geysers and stuff we took during our tour of the lower loop around Yellowstone…  because you just can’t get enough, right?










We drove up a side road called the Firehole Canyon Drive near Madison and the West Entrance.


We wanted to stop and go swimming but didn’t have the foresight to bring any swim gear 🙁





And we made it!  We finally completed the entire lower loop.  I think we put about 150 miles on the truck today.  Tomorrow, our goal will be the upper loop.   We relaxed for the evening with a campfire back at Rex Hale National Forest Campgound.

Authors Note:  It is now Monday morning on the 3rd of August and we are in Thermopolis, WY.  I’ll try to catch you up with our Yellowstone trip as soon as possible… we didn’t have internet or cell phone coverage the entire time we were at our campground, and only very limited phone connectivity while touring the park.

Check back in for our 31 July northern loop tour which includes Mammoth Hot Springs.



Yellowstone National Park [29 July] (Shoshone National Forest, Rex Hale Campground)

It’s been quite awhile since my last post.  We’ve been off the grid without internet or cell phone service since Wednesday the 29th.  We left the Ponderosa RV Park in Cody on Wednesday to find one of the campgrounds we scoped out on our first trip into Yellowstone NP that I wrote about HERE.  We wanted to be closer to the park so we could take day trips in the Silverado without having to drive over 50 miles just to get to the East Entrance.  We did three more trips into Yellowstone on the 29th, 30th, and 31st of July.

But first, I’d like to say – Although this blog is read by family, friends, acquaintances, and even some folks I haven’t yet met; one of the main reasons I do this blog is to provide for a personal record of our adventures and to save these memories for future posterity.  In many ways, I think this blog is better than a photo album.  Therefore, I’d like to catch you up on our three days in Yellowstone and post some of the many pictures that we took, which constitute our most precious memories into separate posts…  one for each day we toured Yellowstone with our grandson.  Hopefully, we (and our grandson) can look back on these memories in the years to come in order to relive our travels and adventures.

With that said, let me begin on July 29th (Wednesday) by sharing the nice campground we found just 16 miles from the East Entrance.  The Rex Hale Campground is in the Shoshone National Forest.


We scored a 50 Amp site with water.  Yes, I said a 50 Amp site… something that’s almost unheard of in national forest campgrounds  We took site 11.


The nightly fee was only $10 since I have a disabled veterans golden access pass.



The camp hosts were the nicest couple.  Gene and Kay Onstine.  Gene told us they’ve been hosting here for years.  He took the time to point out some of the rock formations and the ‘faces’ you could see with a little imagination.



Here’s our site…  We left the slides in and the satellite dish down while we were away because the camp host warned us about hefty gusts of wind that come through the canyon without warning.


And our view…




Our closest neighbor was this deer in our ‘backyard’…



After we got set up in our site we decided to drive on into Yellowstone even though we knew it was a late start.  This time we took our little dog “Coach” along.

Today, we wanted to turn right at Fishing Bridge and see how much of the lower loop we could do in a counter-clockwise fashion.  You may recall that we tried the clockwise direction on our Monday trip, but we only made it as far as Old Faithful before the rain and lateness of the day forced us to turn back.   Well, today wasn’t much different (except the weather was nice) because we only made it as far as Canyon Village before it got too late to continue on.


But before we even got very far out of the campground… I ran out of gas in the Silverado!

Out of gas.

We were only a mile (or less) from the gas station at Pahaska Tepee which is only a couple miles from the East Entrance.


We forgot to fuel up before we hooked up the truck behind the Coach to tow it to the campground.  We thought about it when we unhooked the truck but figured we could make it to the nearest gas station.  Luckily, I had a gallon can (empty of course) and I was able to flag down the first car that came by.  The nice couple took my gas can, filled it up, and brought it back to us in a matter of 10 minutes.  I was tempted to download the Harley to go get gas, but didn’t have to, thanks to the nice couple in their Porsche Cayenne that stopped to help us.


Once again, I was able to use my disabled veterans golden access pass to get in the park for free.


We drove over Sylvan Pass which we’ve became quite familiar with over the course of our 4 trips into the park.




After Fishing Bridge, we turned right towards Canyon Village.


Our first stop was the Mud Volcano Area.









And then we toured around the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River area.  There were several different pullouts, loops, and scenic drives in and around this beautiful ‘grand’ area of Yellowstone Park.




















At the Canyon Village area, we toured the gift shop, general store, and visitors center.



We saw buffalo, antelope, elk, and even bears throughout the day.  The bears were too far off to get a good picture.



And here’s some more pictures back at our campground in the evening.





Another great evening with a full moon.


Author’s note:  It’s late Sunday night as I finish up this post and we are in Thermopolis, WY.  I’ll try to get caught up as soon as possible with Yellowstone posts about the 30th, 31st, and then our day of ‘just hanging around’ the campground on the 1st of August.  Then I have to catch you up on our trip here to Thermopolis on the 2nd.




Visiting Yellowstone National Park – Day 1 (Ponderosa RV Park, Cody WY)

We tried to get an early start Monday for our drive into Yellowstone National Park.  But first we stopped by the Ponderosa RV Park office to pay ($46.44) for another night so we didn’t have to stress about finding another spot so soon.  So now we’re good here until Wednesday.  We’ll check on other spots between now and then that are more reasonably-priced (for us) and hopefully not too far away.  We anticipate doing at least a couple more trips into the park to see the sights.  I hope we can find something; while in the office, I overheard the clerk turn away at least three callers that were looking for an RV spot.

The forecast called for wind and possible showers today.  We left our little dog “Coach” in the Coach with both A/C’s set at 70°  We were told we’d have problems taking him on any of the trails or attractions in the park.  This bit of information turned out to be not-entirely true – we saw several people throughout the day carrying their dogs around at pull-offs, and even one inside the Old Faithful Inn … oh well, next time we’ll know.  At least we knew he was ok for the day.

We finally got on the road by 8:15 or so and headed for the east entrance about 50 miles away…


I was able to use my disabled veteran Golden Access Pass to avoid the $30 entrance fee.


Our plan for the day was to enter through the east gate and turn south at Fishing Bridge to drive around the lower “loop” in a clockwise fashion and then return back to Cody.  (See map below)  We only made it as far as Old Faithful when the rain forced us to turn around and backtrack.  But it was still a great day 🙂  (map)


Follow along now for a summary of our days activity:

(Remember that if you see “green highlighted” text anywhere in my posts; these are embedded links to click-on for more info if you’d like) 🙂

Sylvan Pass was very scenic and the grades were manageable.  We could easily take the Urban Escape Vehicle on this route if we need to – or if we so desire, in the future.

BTW – I set up our Road Mate DVR on the dash of the Silverado to record our trip.   I wrote about purchasing this while we were in Gillette WY at the FCRV Campvention Rally.  I used it once before on our drive with my Dad & Stepmom in their Jeep when we drove through the Black Hills in South Dakota, but haven’t been able to download the video clips until recently.  I had to buy a card reader (at the BX in Ellsworth AFB) for the SD card because the device didn’t download thru its USB cable to my MacBook Pro Laptop.  Anyway – I hope to be able to share some of the 2-minute clips that it records sometime soon if my blog hosting service allows.  First, I have to edit the hundreds of files to see if there’s anything good to share.  So far, the video quality looks pretty good and we even got some amusing clips of us standing around in front of the truck when we got out at a couple scenic pull-offs to take pictures when I forgot to turn it off.  More on this RoadMate DVR and its video clips in a later post maybe.

We saw lots of evidence of fire damage along our route into the park from the eastern side.  Read more about the 1988 “Summer of Fire”  HERE.



We passed Sylvan Lake and then reached Yellowstone Lake, which were both beautiful.

We stopped at the Fishing Bridge RV Park to double-check availability. This is the first campground located inside the park from the east entrance. You may recall from my previous post that I called the reservations number and was told they didn’t have anything for a week. This was still the case – but the nice lady behind the desk was very helpful and shared a list of campgrounds outside the park. She recommended trying a couple of the small state parks that have hook-ups outside the east entrance. We promised ourselves that we’d check them out on the way back if it wasn’t too late, and that’s exactly what we did – we saw several open sites. Hopefully, we can score one of them on Wednesday.


We stopped at several pull-offs along our route for pictures and when we got to West Thumb, we parked, put on jackets and walked the boardwalk:














It was around 59° and getting windy by this time.  We could see clouds rolling in.


Our grandson Kaan posed with a ranger hat at the small ranger station/visitor center.


These really cool old buses are still running tourists around the park.  According to the National Park Service website; “A total of twenty-seven 1936 Model 706 buses were used in Yellowstone, and by 1939, a total of ninety-eight Model 706s of various years were in use (the largest number of National Park Buses operating anywhere).”


When we reached Old Faithful, a light rain had started.  We had driven about 115 miles to get here from our site in Cody.  We waited in the visitor center for the next eruption and caught a nice documentary in the theater.


‘Old Faithful’ in Yellowstone NP.

After about an hour wait, we got to see ‘Old Faithful’ erupt.  Stilla and Kaan watched from the visitor center while I braved the light rain and heavy crowd to walk a little closer for some pictures.





I took lots of pictures of the eruption and even some video, but if you want to see some really good pictures or video taken by professionals, just click HERE or HERE.

We were getting hungry by now and wanted to check out Old Faithful Inn.  We remembered it from our first trip here back in 1993.


According to this website; “Old Faithful Inn is the most requested lodging facility in the park. Built in 1903-1904 with local logs and stone, the Inn is considered the largest log structure in the world. The towering lobby features a massive stone fireplace and a hand-crafted clock made of copper, wood and wrought iron serving as focal points.”



We found some sandwiches at the Inn and I tried their Old Faithful Ale while we checked out the cool balconies at the Inn – hey, we’re only here once, right?



View from the upper (outside) balcony.



View from one of the inner balconies looking down on the lobby.



View of the inner balconies.


View of the dining room from balcony above.


By now, it was raining a little heavier and it was a bone-chilling 38° – believe it or not!

We took a few more pics on our way out of the massive ‘Old Faithful’ parking lot that was packed with visitors and started heading back to Cody.  It was now 3:30 PM and we had 115 miles to back-track.  It was too late in the day and too rainy now to stick with our original plan to do the whole loop.  It was shorter to just go back the way we came.



We stopped once more along Yellowstone Lake to check out the steam coming up from the geysers along the edge.

Kaan and Stilla alongside Yellowstone Lake. Geyser steam in background.


We’ll be back… we only scratched the surface of this beautiful national park today.

It got warmer as we got closer to Cody – around 50° if I remember right.  As I mentioned earlier, we stopped at a couple of the small state park campgrounds on the way back once we were outside the park, and the outlook for getting a spot looks good.  There were quite a few open sites and some even had full hook-ups.  We’ll try to score a new site on Wednesday at one of these campgrounds.

We also stopped at Pahaska Tepee on the way back to stretch our legs after the long drive.  This is supposed to be “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s old hunting lodge and hotel back in the day.



Kaan trying on another hat… we have a theme (for pictures) going on here I think.

When we got back to the Urban Escape Vehicle, we noticed it had rained and some really bad wind gusts must have come through… our larger pull-down window awning on the living room slide out was rolled up; the small american flag was ripped that we had hanging on one of our mirrors; and the chairs we left out were knocked over and wet.  But the important thing was that little “Coach” was OK, and boy! – was he ever happy to see us after being cooped up for almost 10 hours.

The weather-guessers are calling for more wind but sunshine today (Tuesday) as I write this post.  We’ll stay here today and check out the attractions in Cody.  We’ve heard that the Buffalo Bill Center of the West museum is a “must-see”.

We Scored a Campground near Yellowstone NP in July! (Ponderosa RV Park, Cody WY)

We left the Shell Campground located in Shell, WY by 11 AM on Sunday and continued heading west on 14 towards Yellowstone NP.  As I mentioned in my last post – the campground had a very weak WiFi signal thru Verizon and absolutely no AT&T coverage for our iPhones.  I tried to do some research online to find possible RV spots in or near Yellowstone.  This is the height of the tourist season here and therefore very difficult to score sites that can accommodate a 38½ ft Coach without advance reservations.

I was able to get quite a few tips from folks on the RVillage.com® website for possible places to stay, in or near Cody, WY which is about 50 miles from the east entrance to the park.  And I was also able to get some phone numbers for campgrounds near the west entrance to Yellowstone from our good friends Orman & Suzie Claxton, who are currently in a park there.  (Thanks Orman!)  However, all these tips were no good to us without cell phone coverage.

We stopped at a rest area near Greybull, WY when we finally had an AT&T signal and made a bunch of phone calls… absolutely no sites were available inside the park according to the number I called from the park website.  Apparently most of the campgrounds within Yellowstone are operated by a single entity; Xanterra Parks & Resorts.  I then tried some of the numbers for RV Parks in Cody and also a few numbers for parks on the west side of Yellowstone… everyone said they were full.  A couple of the numbers I dialed just went to voicemail.  So, we decided to just drive on to Cody and try our luck in person.

About 70 miles later, we pulled into Cody, WY.  I passed up a couple of the parks that I had called earlier and drove almost to the west side of town when we saw the Ponderosa Campground.  We pulled in and stopped behind another rig in the registration lane.


Stilla and I went into the office and “Whad’Ya Know” – they had a spot!  We reserved two nights with an option to extend if we let them know as soon as possible and if they don’t get more reservations.  We were told to go park and come back to settle the bill, which was $92.88 for two nights – ouch 🙁

We apparently just beat the rush too – campers were blocking the street behind us in the registration lane…


But we had to wait for the rig in front of us to move before we could clear the lane and go to our new site…


Little “Coach” watched us through the Coach window as we checked into the park.

We finally pulled in near our site and disconnected the Silverado from the Coach.  I walked back to the office to pay the bill.  And guess what!?!  Another Alpine Coach pulled into the campground!  I spoke briefly to the driver and gave him our site number, so we could maybe get-together later.


And here’s our spot… who says you can’t find a campground near Yellowstone without a reservation? 🙂  As a matter-of-fact, later on as we drove around town, we noticed a bunch of rigs parked at the local Walmart.  Hmmm… maybe we’ll have to keep that in mind if we can’t get an extension here…

Our site at Ponderosa Campground, Cody WY.


We were originally assigned to the spot to the left of where we’re now parked, but as you can see, in the pic (below), the trees at the front of the site surrounded the satellite dish!  So getting a signal was impossible.  I went back to the office and asked to change to the next spot over at the end of the row.  They were very accommodating and simply switched the reservation with someone who was still due-in but hadn’t yet arrived.


After we got settled into our site, we walked through the park and stopped to talk to the Alpine driver I saw earlier.  They were already set up on the opposite side of the park and were inside their Coach.  I knocked on the door and we introduced ourselves.  His name is David (we didn’t meet his wife yet) and they are with the NoWACA group which stands for NorthWest Alpine Coach Association.  We talked for a short time and I left an open invitation for them to stop by our Coach later for refreshments and more conversation.

Then we drove around town to check out the area and find someplace to get dinner.  We ended up at La Comida.   They had some pretty good fish tacos.



We got back to the park pretty late.  A 5th Wheel Trailer backed into the spot next to us (our original site);  a couple from Utah with 5 kids.  I used the last remaining daylight to clean the bugs off the front of the Coach since it was finally cooling down from a high today of ~90°

We didn’t see the folks in the other Alpine again… hopefully, we’ll be able to get together sometime over the next couple/few days before we move on.

On Monday, we plan on getting an early start for visiting Yellowstone NP.  We’ll leave our little dog “Coach” in the Coach with the A/C on since we’ve got 50 Amp hook-ups.  We’ve been told dogs aren’t allowed in many places within the park and it would be cruel to leave him in the Silverado while we visit ‘Old Faithful’, etc.,

Check back in to see how our day turns out… I’m sure we’ll have some awesome pics of what is known as the world’s first national park per wikipedia®.  We (Stilla and I) last visited Yellowstone in the very early 1990’s and look forward to seeing it again and sharing the experience with our grandson.