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1998 West Vacation - September 8 through 19, Part 2


My 1998 West Vacation - 11 days, 4315 miles.
Days 5 & 6, Pocatello, Idaho to Gardiner, Montana.

US-26 / Snake River - September 12

When I first came up this way in 1998, I thought the area was stunning. I still do. I also drove this road in 2001 during a drought and the water levels in the reservoir were significantly lower than what you see here. In 2006, I bypassed this area and took the shortcut over the Teton Pass.

Once you leave the urban areas of Idaho Falls (and I have to admit that "Urban" doesn't quite have the same meaning in Idaho Falls as it does in Chicago), US-26 joins and follows the Snake River, as it curves it's way South around the mountains. You can spy the dam upriver before you get to the Reservoir, and to me, it's the gateway to Jackson Hole, Grand Teton and Yellowstone.

US-26 / Palisades Reservoir / Snake River
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Grand Teton National Park - September 12

Cunningham Cabin
I can assure you that the view of the Tetons in the background is stunning... If you could see them. Cunningham Cabin, Grand Teton National Park.
The weather was sorta crappy when we were in this area, raining on us off and on all morning. When we got to the Tetons, we only saw the -tons. The Tets were obscured by clouds. Not very impressive. We told ourselves we'd take a day from Yellowstone, and come back down and do a cursory tour of the Tetons. We never did, of course. We had completely underestimated the scope and wonders of Yellowstone.

I would come back in 2001, but due to lousy circumstances of the day (I was here on 9/11), we drove straight through the park. We would finally do the park justice in 2006, when we stayed in the park for 2 and 1/2 days. If you're looking for Grand Teton National Park pictures, check out 2006...

Jackson, WY / Grand Teton National Park
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Yellowstone National Park, Day 1 Part 1 - September 12

John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, is generally credited for the first exploration of the Yellowstone area by an American. But no one believed him. They dubbed the place "Colter's Hell".

Later mountain men, such as Jim Bridger and Joe Meek, so exaggerated most of their own stories, that no one believed them, either. It wasn't until the Washburn expedition of 1870 that the wild tales from those mountain men were confirmed. In 1872, U.S. Grant made this place a National Park.

And the tourists started showing up not too much later. They haven't stopped.

And while the longest I spent in Yellowstone was in 1998, I returned in 2001. Technically, I was just passing through in 2006, but stayed in the park and took pictures of the Canyon...

Yellowstone is my favorite National Park. It has everything you could ask for: many types of wildlife; breathtaking mountain ranges; geothermal features; magnificent waterfalls; deep, blue, clear lakes; deep canyons; natural forests; even the entrance roads to the park are worth a drive.

Count on me being there whenever I'm in the area.

My first day in Yellowstone was an abbreviated one, since we started the morning in Pocatello. We stopped in at a couple of thermal basins along the Western part of the Grand Loop Road, and made our way to base camp in Gardiner, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park, Day 1 - Part 1
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Yellowstone National Park, Day 1 Part 2 - September 12

We saw our first Elk that day, and like the first sightings of anything, we thought it was pretty cool. But we'd later find out that the best place to see Elk, is in Mammoth Hot Springs...

Yellowstone National Park, Day 1 - Part 2
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We stayed in Gardiner, Montana, just outside the North Entrance.

Gardiner, Montana
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Yellowstone National Park, Day 2 Part 1 - September 13

Mammoth Hot Springs
Minerva Terrace. The springs move, and when we were back here in 2006, the Minerva Terrace was dry. Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park.
Day 2 in Yellowstone started at the Boiling River, thought to be the runoff area for the terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs. It was a cool morning, and the hot water caused so much steam that visibility was zero in places.

We also visited the Terraces themselves, with their multi-hued algae growths. There are two levels, the upper terraces are accessible from another road just south of the lower terraces.

Yellowstone National Park, Day 2 - Part 1
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End 1998 West Vacation - Part 2.

Jump to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

  • 08/5/2013 - Rewrite and update to v3.11
  • 08/31/2014 - Update to v3.2