My Solo Wanderings of the West

kennyj

Explorer
The next morning I drove down into Grand Teton National Park and to Jenny Lake campground. It’s the most picturesque and also the most popular campground in the park, and when I got there by 8 am the last available sites were being taken. I continued to my second choice, Gros Ventre campground. It turned out to be a good choice as it was convenient for me to run in to Jackson, and it was probably a lot less hectic than Jenny Lake with new arrivals pursuing campsites at 6 or 7 am. Also, I appreciated that the loop I camped at Gros Ventre was, like Jenny Lake, a “no-generator” zone that was far away from the big RVs and diesel-pushers.

An early morning view approaching the Tetons aiong the Snake River:




After getting situated at the campground I took the bike on a quick trip to Jackson, then toured the southern area of Grand Teton. Here’s a view of Grand Teton from across Jenny Lake.




And further up Jenny Lake, the view up Cascade Canyon below Grand Teton.




Looking north at Mount Moran.

 

kennyj

Explorer
On my second day in Teton National Park I left Gros Ventre for someplace up around Jackson Lake. I had noticed what seemed a very popular trailhead, so I stopped and took a morning hike up to the beautiful alpine Taggart Lake, then looping through a high meadow area.







View of the Tetons across Taggart Lake.




When I returned to the trailhead I found a group of Asian tourists picking from the many wildflowers, and here taking turns posing for photos with their bouquets.




Later, driving north past Jackson Lake, I ended up at Colter Bay Village and got a campsite, again in a remote generator-free loop of the campground.




After setting up at the campground I unloaded the bike and took a late afternoon ride back down along Jackson Lake.




I turned up a side road to the summit of Signal Mountain where I got this great high view of the lake. I found it oddly amusing that atop Signal Mountain were a variety of cell phone and radio antennae.



 

kennyj

Explorer
The next morning I continued north into Yellowstone National Park. I stopped to see Lewis Falls.




And nearby, this view of the Lewis River with the Tetons still faintly in view.




When I headed for this corner of Wyoming, my goal was to see the Tetons and the Beartooth Mountains. After reading of the crowds and traffic and full campgrounds of Yellowstone, I had planned at most a drive-through across the southeast corner. Then I learned that a few campgrounds in Yellowstone were still run by the Park Service and were first-come, first-serve, were no-generator camping areas, and with my geezer discount relatively cheap. I arrived at Lewis Lake campground by 8 am and found a splendid campsite. I decided I could stay a few days, going out to explore on the motorcycle.




That first day I did a relatively short ride up to Grant Village, stopping at the visitor center, and to the West Thumb geyser basin. Here is a view across the vast Lake Yellowstone with a couple thermal features just under the surface.




One of the many hot spring pools near the lake shore.

 

kennyj

Explorer
On my second day at Yellowstone I checked in the Grant Village visitor center for the Old Faithful eruption times to plan a ride up to see the geyser. I arrived to find an enormous parking area packed with thousands of vehicles. I slotted my little bike in with a parked group of Gold Wings and headed to the geyser viewing area just in time to see Old Faithful erupt.




Before the eruption was even finished this giant sea of people were already dispersing to their vehicles. The scene of cars filing out of the parking area was like something you would see at a sporting event or concert.




I decided to wait out the crowds; I retrieved my bike from among the Gold Wing riders to a more convenient parking place and walked around the area.

Here is the phenomena of the year, the selfie stick. I’ve been amazed how many people I’ve seen carrying their smartphone on the end of one of these.




I continued my ride north from Old Faithful along the Geyser Basin, taking a number of the boardwalk hikes through the many thermal features.




I love this picture of the gal who color-coordinated her outfit with the scenery!

 

kennyj

Explorer
On day three at Yellowstone I rode back south. The area between Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone is called the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway and is sort of looked after by the Teton Park Service. Off of the main north-south highway, Grassy Lake Road ventures off to the west through the JDRJrMP, then Caribou-Targhee National Forest, eventually all the way to Ashton, Idaho. Scattered along Grassy Lake Road I found a number of small, free campgrounds, many right on the Snake River. It seemed to be a “secret” area not on any maps but was fully occupied; the camp host told me later that the area is a popular getaway for Park workers on their days off.




The next day I headed up to the Canyon area to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the falls. This would be my longest ride to date, and the ride with the most traffic and bonehead drivers. I suppose they are as much the spectacle of Yellowstone as the bison they’re gawking at, and there is really nothing to do but grin and bear it and ride really carefully.

This is the Upper Falls.




And a little down river is the Lower Falls.




From further away the view up the Canyon to the Lower Falls.




Here’s another view of the Lower Falls from an overlook on the other side of the Canyon. The Canyon is a spectacular sight and was well worth the trouble to visit.




Seeing some developing weather in the sky I decided it was a good time to return to camp. It was a 60+ mile ride back with light rain. Back at the campsite it rained really hard the rest of the day.


 

echo7tango

Overlanding Road Tripper
Kenny, your great trip continues, and thank you for the ongoing good reporting and pictures. Keep 'em coming!
 

fortel

Adventurer
Kenny

It would have been cool to have crossed paths with you somewhere along NE-2. As always, safe travels.
 

little_joe

Observer
Kenny, I just read your entire travels and I amazed at how much appreciation you have for the splendor of this land. It's refreshing to read your accounts of wandering and wonder, where others might snap a pic and run to the next "sight" you really capture the essence of the landscape (in words and photos). I deeply appreciate your approach and how you so effortlessly accentuate descriptions with stunning photos. I have nothing more to say than - Thank You. Yours is an inspiring adventure, and thank you for sharing it with us.
 

kennyj

Explorer
Great, great and more great Kenny! What an amazing country we live in!
Thank you, spressomon! I have been seeing some amazing sights.

Kenny, your great trip continues, and thank you for the ongoing good reporting and pictures. Keep 'em coming!
And thanks to you, echo7tango. It's good to be back on the road.

Kenny

It would have been cool to have crossed paths with you somewhere along NE-2. As always, safe travels.
Thanks, fortel.

Glad to see you back on the road , thanks for the continuing entertainment.
Thank you for following along

Kenny, I just read your entire travels and I amazed at how much appreciation you have for the splendor of this land. It's refreshing to read your accounts of wandering and wonder, where others might snap a pic and run to the next "sight" you really capture the essence of the landscape (in words and photos). I deeply appreciate your approach and how you so effortlessly accentuate descriptions with stunning photos. I have nothing more to say than - Thank You. Yours is an inspiring adventure, and thank you for sharing it with us.
Wow! Thank you, little_joe, what an incredible compliment! So many people in these National Parks seem to be in such a hurry to check off every sight, I even see people that don't even bother to get out of the car to snap their photo! Or the people at Old Faithful that couldn't wait for the geyser to finish before rushing off to the parking lot.
So, you are welcome, I'm really glad to be able to share my experiences here.

Thanks for the stories and photos, beautiful trip we're going on with you!
Thank you, Sleam, for following along. Going to have some beautiful sights coming up.
 

kennyj

Explorer
Leaving Yellowstone I went north to Fishing Bridge and headed for the east side entrance, a route that took me well around Yellowstone Lake.




Heading east on US route 20 I landed in a spot in the Shoshone National Forest. Most of the area either side of route 20 is wilderness, but I found a few spur roads where I could go explore on the bike.




Back at camp, an afternoon thunderstorm turned into a hail storm that covered the ground with white, a pretty strange sight for July. I was glad not to be be out riding!




Continuing east I stopped in Cody, Wyoming for some shopping. The town was gearing up for 4th of July and a lot of people were talking about the rodeo. Later I wished I had stayed around to check it out.




My plan was to turn north from Cody, up route 120 to Belfry then over to Red Lodge, the start of the Beartooth Highway. But it was getting late in the day and when I reached the turn for the Chief Joseph scenic highway I decided to turn left and look for a campsite.

 

kennyj

Explorer
I ended up driving all the way over the high Dead Indian Pass and was treated to some amazing scenery.
From high up on the pass looking out at Sunlight Valley:




I found a campsite in an empty National Forest campground in the valley, then took an early evening bike ride all the way up Sunlight Road.




Here’s a view of the canyon cut by Sunlight Creek on its way into the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River.




In the lower left of this picture is the new bridge across the very narrow and deep Sunlight Creek canyon, it’s the highest bridge in the state of Wyoming.




The next morning I headed back over the pass to return to highway 120 and continue on to Red Lodge. Looking back at the valley and the Clarks Fork Canyon.




I crossed the border into the state of Montana, then after the little town of Belfry I came across the ruins of the Smith Mine, the site of the 1943 mine disaster where 74 men died, the worst in Montana mining history.




I stopped at the Ranger Station at the south end of Red Lodge and got some mostly bad advice about dispersed camping in the area. I started up the beginning of the Beartooth Highway to the Rock Creek area, but with 4th of July only a few days away and this being a popular area it was hard to find any spot that wasn’t already occupied by a big RV. This picture of campers around this clearing only shows about one fourth of the RVs just in that spot; this was a typical sight all over the area, and still days before the actual holiday weekend. I’m guessing it became even more crowded.


 
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