Yellowstone National Park - Part 1
The Road to Yellowstone.

My original plan was to go from Rocky Mountain National Part to Tetons National Park and then Yellowstone. I called the Tetons campground before we left Rocky Mountain and found out that the campground was booked solid until the end of the season. I then called Yellowstone and found out the same thing for that park.

I decided to eliminate Teton NP from our trip and find a close campground on the eastern side of Yellowstone. We ended up staying at a KOA in Cody, Wyoming. Cody is 79 miles from the loop road in Yellowstone NP. The National Park has a 35 mph speed limit on the open road and, in most places, no passing. So we are talking a 1.5 to 2 hour one way trip from Cody to the loop road.

The loop road is like a square figure eight. Its 140 miles around the outside of the figure eight. It takes almost four hours to drive around the loop without stopping to see anything. Knowing that the round trip from Cody will be about 10 hours a day, we would be leaving early and coming back late.

This is the first time I did not make reservations well in advance at a National Park. Never again!

This page includes some of the sights we saw on the way to Cody and our first trip from Cody to the loop road in Yellowstone.

The Big Thompson Canyon Road (US 34) weaves its way from Rocky Mountain NP through the Roosevelt National Forest alongside the Big Thompson River. The canyon walls are vertical, high, and awesome. The road is narrow and has only a few places to pull off and rest.

We did see a sign which was quite comical. IN CASE OF FLOODING, HEAD FOR HIGH GROUND.
I wonder what you do with vertical walls?

Stopping for lunch on Big Thompson Canyon Road.

Looking back where we came from.

Continuing on. The road hugs the canyon wall.

The road is crossing over the river again.

Looking ahead, the canyon is opening up. Hopefully the road will get straighter.

The end of the narrow canyon is in sight.

We are out in the open and the road is flat and straight.

It is interesting to see the color change as we drive along.

We are on a divided road so it is time for a change.

It is time to let the copilot have the controls.

Passing through the small town of Thermopolis, WY.

This is home for the next three nights.

It is time to rest up for the next two long days....

.... But first, we need some clean clothes.

We are on our way to Yellowstone National Park for the day.

We are heading west on US 14. It follows the Shoshone River up to Yellowstone NP.

The river went around this mountain. We are going through it.

A modern tunnel. Nothing like what we saw on Gold Camp Road in Colorado.

Coming out of the tunnel we see signs for the Buffalo Bill dam and say we should stop there on the way back.
It was after dark when we came back so we have to save this for another year.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir
The Buffalo Bill Dam made this reservoir on the Shoshone River.

Going around the reservoir on US 14.

The Shoshone River which flows into the reservoir.

Some of the rocks which rolled down the mountain and into the river.

On the other side of the road are steep cliffs.

Houses in the middle of nowhere.

The cliffs are taking a different shape.
We went on this road four times in two days and always seemed to see something different.

We are in the National Park. But we have 30 miles to go to get to the loop road.
We left Cody at 5,000 feet and we are now above 7,500 feet.
Along the way, the bare mountains and valleys have changed to green forests.
Now we see a timber line in the distant mountains.

Sylvan Pass - 8,524 feet above sea level. 22 miles to go!

We are heading down toward Yellowstone Lake. We see many dead trees along the way.

The following is copied from the internet:
The clear, high peaks of the greater Yellowstone region once were studded with huge stands of majestic white-bark pine forests, some of the trees 1,000 years old.

A decade or so ago, big pockets of rust started appearing as the green pine needles succumbed to infestation and disease. Since then, it's become worse: Unable to fend off invading armies of Mountain Pine Beetles, large swaths of the forest have simply died. An alarming part of the high-elevation landscape across the mountains of Wyoming, eastern Idaho and southern Montana is gradually turning eerie and gray.

The big culprit, most researchers believe, is climate change. Hard winters once killed off the beetles that bore into the trees; beetles have been surviving the milder winters and have extended their range farther north than at any time in modern history, as far as northern British Columbia.

Marge kept asking me, "When are we going to see a buffalo?"
Here are the first two of many which we will be seeing in the next two weeks.

It is nice that they are on the correct side of the road.
One is in the middle of the lane. The other is politely walking off of the roadway.

Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake is the largest body of water in Yellowstone National Park. The lake is 7,732 feet above sea level and covers 136 square miles with 110 miles of shoreline. While the average depth of the lake is 139 ft, its greatest depth is at least 390 ft. It is the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 ft in North America.

Here is buffalo number three.

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