Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Chapter 33 - Butte to Gardiner, Montana
Today marks the start of our third month on the road and today we leave for Gardiner, Montana. Gardiner is a town that we had never heard of until recently but because Gardiner sits at the north entrance to the Yellowstone National Park, it is mobbed with tourists during the summer months. We were lucky to get reservations at the Rocky Mountain RV Park especially since this park sits on a ridge above the city and above the entrance to Yellowstone. This photo was taken from the RV park. The mountains in the distance are in the Yellowstone National Park and the river in the foreground is the Yellowstone River.
We arose even earlier than usual today both because of our eagerness to see Yellowstone but also because we felt that it was important to get to the park entrance early to avoid the long line that we had encountered on Sunday. It worked; we were into the Park without delay shortly before 7:30 am. Our first goal this morning is to go visit Old Faithful located about 58 miles south of the north entrance. Well, between the quantity of cars and the road construction the drive south to Old Faithful took us a little over two hours mostly nonstop. We did have one delay however, that was delightful. Cars were stopped in both directions because one big old bison decided to walk right down the road. I took this photo as he passed by our stopped car; I could have almost reached out and touched him. He looked angry. Perhaps he too was upset by all of the cars.
We arrived at Old Faithful around 9:45 am and parked in a huge parking lot filled with what seemed like a million cars. Obviously Old Faithful is the most popular feature in Yellowstone and the crowds in mid-summer certainly reflect that fact. We stopped in a large shopping center by the parking lot to get directions and a brochure and there we learned that Old Faithful had erupted only a few minutes earlier and we had a wait about one hour before the next eruption. From what I read during our wait, the frequency of Old Faithful's eruptions range between 45 to 125 minutes, the boiling water rises to an average of 145 feet, and the eruption lasts between 1-1/2 to 5 minutes. We were excited and despite the rather chilly winds, we enjoyed sitting and watching the crowds of people gathering to wait for the show to start. Unfortunately, dogs were not allowed to enter the close up area, so we found a nearby bench, sat down, and discussed how excited we were. I took this photo around the peak of the eruption. It lasted around two minutes but it was worth the wait. Cabo slept throughout the entire show.
One of the enjoyable parts of driving through Yellowstone National Park is the ever changing scenery. So far in our drive we have seen hot springs, geysers, lakes, the rapids of the Yellowstone River and the beauty of Yellowstone Lake, steep mountain cliffs, and elk and bison up close. We have even crossed the Continental Divide three times, our highest point being at Dunraven Pass at 8,859 feet above sea level during our last leg of todays drive. Fortunately during this last leg of our drive the traffic was less so that we had more chances to pull over, find a parking space, and take more photographs of the spectacular scenery such as this one of Kathy and Cabo at the gorge below Tower Falls.