Thursday, July 19, 2012

Driving Wyoming & Arriving at Yellowstone

Tuesday July 10th

After a good night's sleep, I was up and ready for a nice hot shower in the KOA campground.  It's probably been over 25 years since my last KOA stay; this reminded me of just how nice their locations are.  This particular campground only recently affiliated with KOA having been an independent for many years operating as Twin Creek Campground.

In addition to the great showers and restrooms, they offer a children's playground and decent size swimming pool.  Hook-ups are available for RVs and there is complimentary WiFi (which I took advantage of the night before to contact home and post a few photos on Facebook).

After showering and getting dressed, I was ready to hit the road at 6:15am.  From Buffalo, WY I had two options in terms of routes . . . I90 through to Cody and into the east entrance at Yellowstone . . . or the more scenic route via US20 connecting to US26 that continued on into Grand Teton National Park via the Moran Junction.  Road signage encouraged travelers to take the "safer and more scenic route" on US20 so that was what I did.

While there was a lot of beautiful scenery and some wildlife (mostly deer), the road was under construction at several places resulting in significant delays as the two lane road was brought to single lane driving, complete with miles of pilot car escorting over a gravel road.  I did stop to watch a small herd of pronghorn sheep along the Wind River between Riverton & Dubois.

I enjoyed my drive through Ten Sleep, WY with their population of 260 and four saloons.  Just outside of town was a park with a lovely lake.  This photo is actually the pano-merging of six individual frames to make this one image of the full lake.  The water was still, so it also provided the reflective image of the hills and trees surrounding it.

I arrived at Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) at 2:00pm, which allowed me a nice leisurely drive through the park, first heading south towards Jackson Hole.  My interests in that area were the Antelope Flats Road and Morman Row, given their distance from Yellowstone and my desire to make my trip out of Yellowstone limited to the more northern areas of Grand Teton.  The photo to the right is the Moulton Barn found along Morman Row, a settlement that dates back to 1892.

Antelope Flats is known as a wildlife viewing area.  As with my prior day in South Dakota, viewing bison required the binoculars as they were at quite a distance away from the gravel road.  The photos I took were unimpressive, requiring 2-4x zoom plus cropping to make out what animal I had photographed.  Bah-humbug!

Having researched prices of gasoline prior to leaving home, I knew high prices ($3.999) awaited me in Yellowstone so my plan was to buy at Moran Junction.  Unfortunately "Gas Buddy" had a bad reporting for the Phillips 66 station outside the park, so I by-passed them.  Now inside GTNP and needing to top off, I was at the mercy of pricing.  Fortunately, the Signal Mountain convenience store was "just" $3.819 so I filled up there.  That was good enough to get me through until Thursday when I also had planned for an "out of the park" morning in Gardiner, MT for breakfast at a cafe with free WiFi plus gas fill-up at what was expected to be around $3.699.

While in GTNP, I did make a stop in the visitor center at the south entrance of Moose Junction.  Heading back north towards Yellowstone, I saw a cute young male deer in the lake at Moran Junction.

I arrived at Grant Campground around 6:30pm, where I had a reservation for the night.  It was pretty cool to be welcomed at the entrance to Grant Village by an elk and her young calf.  My campsite was well shaded and near the bathrooms, so I was very happy with the location.

Today I drove 450 miles, all in Wyoming.

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