Where to begin?!?! Yellowstone National Park is just SO big with SO much to do... the park is bigger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, and there are more than 1000 miles of hiking trails! And because we’ll be spending about a month here overall, we figured we better do a few posts about all our fun activities.
We spent our first week or so exploring the Tower, Canyon and Roosevelt areas of the park. We hiked more than 45 miles, saw stunning back-to-back sunsets, smelled lots of sulfurous hot springs, watched a bear sow and her three cubs foraging (among lots of other wildlife), backpacked up Slough Creek into the Absaroka wilderness and back, stayed one night at the historic Roosevelt Lodge (built in 1903), and so much more!
A real highlight for me was backpacking into the Slough Creek wilderness. The trail follows an old wagon road that is still used today by a dude ranch that sits just outside the park. Several times during our three days up there, we saw or heard horse-drawn wagons rolling past our campsite. The campsites, by the way, were great - they’re are just very well set up. Slough Creek site #6 was my favorite of them, sitting up on a small hill above the trail, with great views up and down the valley and across to the river, which was amazing for viewing the picture-perfect sunsets. Each site also has either its own bear box, or a built in hang pole for easy food storage. This hike was really nice - nice trail, good wildlife viewing (bison, elk, lots of birds, but no bears), and lovely scenery; we definitely recommend Slough Creek.
Another fun thing we did was celebrate the completion of our third month on the road by staying at the rustic and historic Roosevelt Lodge for a night. We had our own lovely, little one-room cabin, heated by a wood stove. We also indulged and took advantage of the unlimited hot water in the shared bathrooms for some luxurious showers, much needed after three nights in the backcountry.
All the other nights so far, though, we’ve stayed at the Tower campground, chosen because its the least expensive campground that has been open so far. The campground is nice enough for a 'primitive' one (meaning no running water), though its always full. The real benefit of staying here, though, is Deana, the volunteer camp host. She’s so helpful and patient with all the folks coming through hoping for a place to stay, including us. She also gave us some great tips on camping in the Tetons. Thanks Deana!
A few other fun things worth mentioning: the hike up Mt. Washburn, walking around Mud Volcano at dawn, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone particularly as seen from Artists Point, and sitting out on Roosevelt Lodge’s porch in the late afternoon.
Today we went down to Grand Teton National Park for 8 days, but we’ll be back to Yellowstone after that to do up the southern half of the park!