Monday, July 2, 2007

Initial blog report for Yellowstone – Teton Mountains Road Trip

Rocky Mountain RV Campground - June 19, 2007

Well the way this was advertised it did not meet our expectations as a place to camp. Too close to houses and the Plethora of RV’s. While the WIFI would be nice if it worked faster than old dial up. It was so slow that it essentially did not work if you really need to log in and do something. We cannot say its views are by their selves so great given what is right next to us. Maybe we are too spoiled but we would not camp here again by choice. It does have clean bathrooms, showers and supplies. The laundry facilities and ability to re supply in town were nice. Two days was a little more civilization than we needed. One night to load up on last minute supplies would have worked better.

Boiling River Hot Springs
Boiling River located right before the entrance to Wyoming several miles into the North entrance was truly a treat. The parking lot is located right before the 45th parallel, exactly equidistant to the North Pole and the Equator. This easy access is about .5 miles walk on a clearly marked path. On the way, we saw several elk. A passerby thought they were moose, so much for general awareness of the local wild life. This particular set of hot springs are clearly marked and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone in the family. The one entrance was pretty tricky with a rocky access and strong current. After a little scouting of the area we found an easier route into the pools that enabled us to get everyone from our 6 year old to the 11 year old in and enjoying the hot springs. If we were close enough, we would visit this spot every night. In the two nights we were close members of our party went each night.

During the first night there we met one of the local personalities, a gentlemen we called Jumbo for his big size. He was very friendly and full of advice. Come to find out he is a passionate Buffalo activist. This man had left his real world job on several occasions to spend time crusading for better treatment and protection of the free range Buffalo that make Yellowstone National Park there home. More on this particular issue will appear in a separate post. We ran into Chris aka Jumbo the next day working the crowds on our visit to Tower Falls.

Beaver Ponds Hike, Yellowstone National Park

The Beaver Ponds hike is located a couple of hundred yards from the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotels and at the base of the parking lot for accessing the Mammoth Hot Springs.
This was as advertised in all the hiking books we had reviewed. 5 Miles total and a loop. Once we departed the base area we only saw one group of 3 people the entire trip. The hike starts out as a fairly steep climb, mostly in the shade. During the hike we saw several groups of elk, and a beaver at the first of the ponds. The balance of the wild life was several families of geese and ducks playing in the ponds. The walk out was through classic western sage scrub and offered a great view of the parking lot and Boiling River hike and access, as well as the town of Gardiner Montana. This was great hike and ended just North of the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.

We had an earlier hike around the Mammoth Hot Springs Trail from the lower base parking lot. See the photo gallery of shots from this short and easily accessible hike.


Madison Campground
Immediately upon arrival we knew we were now enjoying the camping we had envisioned. Well run and full the campsites are bordered by a river surrounded by wilderness and lots of trees. The facilities are nice, but no showers. This fact was a plus with our 3 boys (11, 9 & 6) as for them camping should not entail having to take a shower regardless of how dirty they get. Our neighbors however (with 2 children our boys shortly had them engaged in a soccer game and then a game of pickle), who had been here for several days informed us of a well-guarded secret swimming hole. This unexpected treat would prove to be the daily bath for our boys and a great cooling off after each day of hiking and traipsing around various parts of Yellowstone Park. Once settled in we also discussed that the original plan of moving every 2 days was really a little over the top. Given we had the family environment, packing everything up and setting up camp again did not make the best use of precious time to relax and enjoy. The decision was made to try and stay for 5 nights and cancel the reservations at Yellowstone Lake (a cabin we had rented) and two nights at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. It was agreed we would still visit every thing we wanted but not spend the extra packing up and reestablishing camp.
I wandered down to the office and a little to our surprise we were able to make this work, and even received a refund for the difference of the cost of the cabin to the campsite. This was a bonus and everyone agreed this was for the best and we had one completely happy set of campers.

Firehole Swimming Hole
This is a must visit during hot days. Located just about 2 miles south of the Madison junction with the main route headed south to Old Faithful. There are off limits cliffs that we saw had quite a bit of activity. On day two we did see park ranger providing a ticket to one who had not heeded the posted warnings. Given how cold the temperatures had recently been we were amazed at how warm yet refreshing the water was. Out of the 4 days camping in Madison Campgrounds we swam 2 of the days.

Monument Geyser
This hike located North of Madison campgrounds just before Norris Junction was advertised as moderate, but for the family proved to be a tad more difficult. A steep climb out that was dusty and with no shade. The effects of the massive fires were evident and I would venture to guess in about 5 years there will be a pretty good amount of shade on this hike. It does offer great views North. The reward on this hike was a unique view of the thermal geysers rumbling about as we got to the top. The chimney features of several geysers was a different feature we had not seen. Also, we saw absolutely no one on this hike. One note is this is listed as a one mile up and then one mile back, however several books had disputed the distance and stated its distance at 1.5 miles. I would definitely agree it is closer to 1.5 miles as opposed to .9 miles.

Beryl Geyser
An easy turn off the main drag between Norris and Madison. The deep blue water and this being a very active and bubbling geyser made this a nice short and easy access.