Home Button Places Button Theme Park Button Other Stuff Button Video Button Wallpaper Button

2001 West Vacation - September 4 through 15, Part 5 of 5


My 2001 West Vacation - 12 days, 5400 miles.
Days 10 (continued) to 12, Yellowstone National Park to Home.

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

We were going to go to Mammoth Hot Springs for dinner, and see the elk. Just as we got there, I was standing next to my car, and the main herd with that massive male buck came sauntering by for their evening meal of grass.

I took a few exposures and some video and then looked around to see a Ranger concerned I was so close (I was about 10 feet from the does, but hey, I was there first!), so I slowly backed away.

We had dinner at the Dining Hall, and I can't even remember what I had. I think it's sad that I can't remember a memorable meal at any National Park venue, and I've eaten at quite a few.

We finally arrived back at the West Entrance Road. The West Entrance is described as a natural entrance to Yellowstone, since it follows the valley the Madison River cut through the mountains. Even though the main sights are along the Grand Loop Road, taking the time to see the entrance roads is worth the effort.

Yellowstone National Park, Day 2 - Part 2
200109Wst_823T12133 200109Wst_824T12133 200109Wst_825T12133 200109Wst_826T12133 200109Wst_827T12142 200109Wst_828F12xxx 200109Wst_829F12xxx 200109Wst_830F12xxx 200109Wst_831F12xxx 200109Wst_832F12xxx 200109Wst_833F12xxx 200109Wst_834F12xxx 200109Wst_835F12xxx 200109Wst_836T12170 200109Wst_840T12171 200109Wst_842F12xxx 200109Wst_843F12xxx 200109Wst_849F12xxx 200109Wst_845T12172 200109Wst_846T12172 200109Wst_847T12172 200109Wst_848T12172
Back to Top

Yellowstone National Park, Day 3 - September 13

We were going to do something different this time, and leave via the Northeast Entrance Road and take the Beartooth Highway through the Beartooth Mountains.

Since we were exiting out the other side of the park, the detour was only 45 miles instead of 68, since we didn't have to double back to the West side of the park. It didn't make me feel any better about it.

There was an antique vehicle rally that day. I know my car doesn't have full power at 8,000 feet above sea level, I wonder how some of those faired. There was a Stanley Steamer, which I suppose might have been more efficient, since water boils at a lower temperature, and it's an external combustion engine...

Yellowstone National Park, Day 3 - Part 1
200109Wst_850T13085 200109Wst_851T13085 200109Wst_852T13093 200109Wst_853T13093 200109Wst_856T13100 200109Wst_858T13100 200109Wst_859T13100 200109Wst_860T13100 200109Wst_861T13100 200109Wst_862T13100 200109Wst_863T13100 200109Wst_864T13101 200109Wst_865T13101 200109Wst_867T13102 200109Wst_868T13103 200109Wst_869T13103 200109Wst_870T13103 200109Wst_871T13103 200109Wst_872T13103 200109Wst_873T13103 200109Wst_875T13103 200109Wst_876T13104 200109Wst_877T13104
Back to Top

Yellowstone National Park, Day 3, Northeast Entrance Road

As mentioned before, all the Entrance Roads are worth a drive if you're in the park for more than a couple of days. The flat valley you drive through must have been a lake bed at one time...

Yellowstone National Park, Day 3, Northeast Entrance Road
200109Wst_878T13112 200109Wst_879T13112 200109Wst_880T13113 200109Wst_881T13113 200109Wst_882T13113 200109Wst_883888T13113 200109Wst_889T13114 200109Wst_890F13xxx 200109Wst_891F13xxx 200109Wst_892T13114 200109Wst_893T13114 200109Wst_894F13xxx 200109Wst_895F13xxx 200109Wst_896T13114 200109Wst_897T13114 200109Wst_898T13114 200109Wst_899T13114 200109Wst_900F13xxx 200109Wst_901F13xxx 200109Wst_903T13115 200109Wst_904T13115 200109Wst_905T13115 200109Wst_906F13xxx 200109Wst_907F13xxx 200109Wst_908F13xxx 200109Wst_910T13123 200109Wst_911T13124 200109Wst_912T13124 200109Wst_914T13125 200109Wst_915J13xxx
Back to Top

US-212 / Beartooth Highway - September 13

In the summer of 1882, civil war veteran General Phillip Sheridan and 120 of his men decided to attempt the first crossing of the Beartooth Mountains on the advice of an old hunter named Geer. Despite forest fires and snow drifts, the shortcut cut a day off their normal route. 54 years later in 1936, the Beartooth Highway opened from Cooke City to Red Lodge, Montana.
Beartooth Mountains
Scenic view from The Beartooth Scenic Highway. (US-212)

After leaving the park, the Northeast Entrance Road turns into US-212, also known as the Beartooth Scenic Highway. It takes you through the Beartooth Mountains, climbing from about 6500 feet to 11,000 feet, giving spectacular views of mountain valleys and more switchbacks than you can count.

Though I'd been awed by spectacular mountain vistas throughout Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, the most spectacular views I've ever seen have been along the Beartooth Highway.

We passed the gates with the sign that said the road could be gated off at any time if it snows, but I thought we were pretty safe. But it did snow in Rocky Mountain, didn't it? (No, it didn't snow. It was chilly, though.)

I thought it would take a half day, but it ended up taking most of the day, since we stopped for pictures along the highway, and stopped at the "Top of the World", a flat plain where there was a souvenir store that asked you to take your garbage with you, since they wouldn't have any garbage pickup until next tourist season.

We descended down from the Beartooths into Red Lodge, Montana, and had lunch at a small cafe, which was attached to a larger casino. We were the only ones in the restaurant, and the casino was almost empty. We continued North on US-212 into Billings, and got my oil changed. From there we went East on I-90 to Sheridan, Wyoming, where we stopped for the night.

US-212 / Beartooth Highway
200109Wst_916T13125 200109Wst_917T13125 200109Wst_918F13xxx 200109Wst_919F13xxx 200109Wst_921T13130 200109Wst_922T13130 200109Wst_923T13130 200109Wst_924F13xxx 200109Wst_925F13xxx 200109Wst_926T13131 200109Wst_927T13131 200109Wst_928F13xxx 200109Wst_929F13xxx 200109Wst_930F13xxx 200109Wst_931F13xxx 200109Wst_932F13xxx 200109Wst_934F13xxx 200109Wst_935F13xxx 200109Wst_936F13xxx 200109Wst_938T13134 200109Wst_939T13135 200109Wst_940T13135 200109Wst_941T13135 200109Wst_942947T13135 200109Wst_948T13135 200109Wst_949T13135 200109Wst_950T13135 200109Wst_951F13xxx 200109Wst_952955F13xxx 200109Wst_956F13xxx 200109Wst_957F13xxx 200109Wst_959962T13140 200109Wst_963T13140 200109Wst_964T13140 200109Wst_965T13141 200109Wst_966T13142 200109Wst_968T13142 200109Wst_969F13xxx
Back to Top

On the road home - September 13 & 14

Since we had taken I-94 on the way to Glacier, we took I-90 through the Black Hills on the way home.

We should have stopped at Devils Tower. We should have stopped at Mount Rushmore. We should have stopped at Badlands. But it didn't feel like a vacation anymore. The country was still paralyzed, and we were seemingly the only tourists anywhere.

At a rest area in South Dakota, they gave me a U.S. flag pin. They said it was the best they could do. Best they could do? It was a very appreciated gesture on behalf of those at the visitor info center.

The vacation wasn't fun anymore. For the first and only time, we called it quits, and headed for home. It was a power drive of 1100 miles in two days.

As a consolation, we stopped in Mitchell, South Dakota, and visit the Corn Palace, a building that uses corn for decoration. It was built in 1892, to encourage settlement, proving the richness of the Eastern South Dakota plains. It's redecorated every year in a different motif. And it wasn't finished.


On The Road Home...
200109Wst_970T13172 200109Wst_971T13173 200109Wst_973T13181 200109Wst_974T13181 200109Wst_975T13182 200109Wst_978T14084 200109Wst_979T14084 200109Wst_980T14104 200109Wst_991T14171 200109Wst_992T14171 200109Wst_989T14171 200109Wst_982986T14170 200109Wst_987T14171 200109Wst_990T14171
Back to Top

Final Thoughts

In the span of a couple of weeks, life changed for me in a way that took me years to readjust. A week after getting back from this trip, my Dad died. It wasn't unexpected, I knew it was going to happen sooner than later. But still, as his caretaker, it left a hole in my life, while the country around me changed.

My 2001 West Trip would rate as my worst road trip. It was the only trip we just gave up on. As a matter of fact, it's the least documented trip I have. I have few notes and twelve years have passed, and all of this is the best I can remember it. Everything from and after losing forty dollars at the casino in Nevada just made me want to put an asterisk next to the trip, but looking back on the pictures, there are some remarkable images.

The Theme Parks would take up much of my time for the next couple of years, doing some trips to the South and Southeast in conjunction with those trips. My next real Road Trip would be to the Desert Southwest in 2005, a much different trip in every way...

Keane's 2001 West Trip:
Days: 12
Miles: 5397 miles
Miles/Day: 450 miles/day
Gas (Gallons): 222.11
Cost (gas): $412.15
Miles/Gallon: 24.3
Cost (lodging): $798.48
Back to Top

End 2001 West Vacation - Part 5 of 5.

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

  • 08/17/2013 - Rewrite and update to v3.11
  • 08/31/2014 - Update to v3.2