Please sign in to post.

Yellowstone

Hello All!

Can you even believe that my husband does not want to start discussing our next vacation until we go on the current one?! I mean... how unreasonable ;) So I'll have to discuss it with you fine folks!

We will be traveling from southern CA and we are looking at a trip with Yellowstone as the primary destination. I am loosely looking at options... weighing whether it would be smarter to drive there and visit the national parks in Utah on the way or to fly in and do Yellowstone and Grand Teton only.

Would love to hear from Yellowstone visitors! Let me know your fav things you did, how much time you think it needs and anything else you think I need to know! Also looking for guide book recs... I have one that I think I will look through on the plane to Scotland :)

TIA!

Posted by
6515 posts

My first three questions to you would be: how much time will you have? what time of year? and are you going to visit the major sights in the parks or to do some longer hiking? Since you mentioned the option of flying I'll assume you won't be camping.

I did Yellowstone and Grand Teton in one trip and the Utah parks in another. Both were driving trips from the Denver area. The Yellowstone and Grand Teton was a 6 day trip and the Utah parks was 5 days. I didn't do a lot of hiking, just short hikes (1-3 hrs) to some of the major sights not reachable by car. I never actually stayed in any of the parks because of cost and not getting reservations early enough, so I stayed in nearby towns.

Posted by
5778 posts

Big question - any camping, or only motels? If there will be any camping involved, then IMHO driving clearly wins (and for me, at least some camping is always a part of any road trip through the great parks of the US west).

Are you time-constrained? If you have enough time, there's nothing like The Great American Road Trip through the west, punctuated by the awesome parks.

I would choose your time carefully though - although I used to always plan these as middle-of-the-summer trips, nowadays I'd probably favor late spring or very early summer (late May-early June), or maybe late September, to avoid the worst of the crowds (national parks are being loved to death) and also to escape both the worst of the summer heat and the not insignificant wildfire risks.

Great adventures await! Enjoy Scotland, too!

Posted by
5160 posts

Your husband obviously has a serious character flaw. You might want to reconsider this relationship.

I don't think there's a wrong way to do Yellowstone. We haven't been in quite a while, but for a time there we would go every few years. Money was a big issue when we started traveling, so we would drive and camp out.

What time of year are you going? We always went in summer, but I understand winter stays are becoming very popular. And Utah is just gorgeous; if you have enough time, it would make for a wonderful trip. But as with Europe, don't try to cram too much into your trip. There's plenty to do and see in Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Do you hike? There are hikes, easy walks, cabins, campgrounds, nature talks, museums, fishing ... You won't lack for something to do.

Posted by
8878 posts

How much time you have is key to recommending what to do/where to go.

Posted by
334 posts

Pam, on this forum is extremely knowledgeable about visiting Yellowstone. My only suggestion would be to consider a winter visit. We were there in February and it was wonderful! I don't think we will ever go back in the summer, but instead do more winter visits.

Lodging reservations for next winter opened on March 15, and summer reservations for 2019 open on May 1, I think. Only book through Xanterra for in park lodging (don't use third party websites).

Posted by
487 posts

As the previous poster mentioned Pam knows Yellowstone very well and I believe she also posts on the Trip Advisor forum for Yellowstone. The folks in that forum are very helpful when planning a trip. Coming from a warmer climate it is important to know that spring does not really start until late May/early June in that area of the country and winter can start early, so there are times when there is not much access to the park because the roads are not plowed. Generally you would want 2-3 days in Grand Teton and 3-4 days in Yellowstone as a minimum to see the major sites, but may want more if you are spending time hiking.

Posted by
2285 posts

If you have flexibility on dates I'd suggest going in September, ie after Labor Day when the kids are back in school and the crowds diminish accordingly. The weather is still good, though it will likely be getting down to freezing at night. July and August are pretty crowded - gridlock in some places if there's an animal sighting. Get an early start (dawn) or maybe wait until a couple of hours before sunset to have a better chance of seeing wildlife. There are some terrific hikes in the park if you're into that, and we've found that 5 minutes from a trailhead we pretty much have any of the trails to ourselves. Do pick up some bear spray if heading off into the bush however. Can usually find some at the general stores inside the park.
We've been every other year since about 2010 and usually stay in Gardiner, MT - just outside the north (Mammoth) entrance. It's a 5 minute drive to the Roosevelt Arch from there. Recommend it highly.
Flying into Bozeman would obviously give you more time to dedicate to Yellowstone and Grand Teton, and if you're into Lewis and Clark lore there are a number of significant sights nearby in the Bitterroot Mountains. Can provide more details if you have any interest in that sort of thing.

Posted by
6882 posts

weighing whether it would be smarter to drive there and visit the
national parks in Utah on the way or to fly in and do Yellowstone and
Grand Teton only.

It's ~ 320 miles one-way just from Salt Lake City (airport) to Yellowstone alone, which is quite a distance, considering you need to loop back to the airport. Obviously, flying into Bozeman is much easier/ quicker. I cannot imagine trying to drive there from the LA area and squeezing in Utah parks (which ones?), unless you have at least 3 weeks or more at your disposal and are prepared to drive a few thousand miles (2k at a minimum just to drive to/from Yellowstone with no side trips). I spent 12 full days just covering 3 of the 5 major Utah parks (Capital Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches) and there was a A LOT of driving in between (I flew in/out of SLC). I love a good road trip but prefer my hiking-to-driving ratio to be at least somewhat favorable. A lot of driving is tiring (I do all the driving, so maybe that's why I'm putting that out there).

I think Utah and Yellowstone/ Grand Tetons can (Ok "should") easily be two separate trips.

Posted by
9933 posts

Hey! I'm here! I'm here!!

How many days you have and when exactly are important to know.

Xanterra, the lodging concessionaire, opens 2019 Reservations on May 1 2018 at 8A MDT. I'd recommend you be ready to make reservations that day if you can, particularly if you are planning to stay in Roosevelt. Their website is www.yellowstonenationlparklodges.com Do NOT book this thru a 3rd party provider. There are several that come up 1st in a google search and they charge a 10% non-ref. booking fee and have horrible cancellation policies. Booking with the concessioner in ANY park is the way to go or at least checking on the Trip Advisor site for each park and getting advice on there first.

If you fly in you may be able to include Beartooth Highway (out the NE entrance), Chief Joseph Scenic Highway and/or Cody.

http://beartoothhighway.com/beartooth-highway-maps/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wyoming_Highway_296
www.centerofthewest.org

The Utah parks are fantastic and may deserve more time than you can devote to them as an on the way sight. Again, it depends on your total time available.

In general, I recommend a minimum of 4 nights/3 full days in Yellowstone and 3 nights/2 full days in Grand Tetons. More is better. These recommendations for Yellowstone just get you to the main sights - really no time for actual hiking. The more time you have the easier it is to avoid crowds at popular places. Something is busy? Cruise by, do something else, then come back when the tour buses and day visitors are gone.

Guidebook? The best, hands down, is Yellowstone Treasures by Janet Chapple. She has a wonderful mile by mile road guide.

There are some free geyser apps to give you the eruption times for the predictable geysers. One is the NPS app. The other is from www.geysertimes.org for Android but there is good cell service in the Upper Basin where the predictable ones mostly are located so easy to go to their website while you're there. The NPS one is only updated when the Rangers have the Visitor Center open, geysertimes are staffed by volunteers who are in the basin day and night. (Yes crazy geyser gazers, lol!!)

SLC is often used as a gateway airport for Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. It's a 5-5.5 hour drive to either Jackson or West Yellowstone. Others are Bozeman, Billings, Jackson, Idaho Falls.

September can be a good time but the last 2 years weather and fires has really impacted late August and September to Oct. 2017 there was a big storm around Sept 15 with intermittent road closures for snow and ice for days. 2016 there was fire closing the South entrance a couple of time as well as snow in the higher elevations. Road Closures in Yellowstone started the last week of Sept. Who knows what will happen this year?

I'm happy to help here, via PM or on the TA website.

Posted by
13735 posts

Okaydoke, as long as the rest of the gang has weighed in on Yellowstone, I'll vote for doing the Utah parks as a separate trip so you can give them enough time and attention. They are STUNNING. Like Yellowstone, most are also very busy so your trip would need some pre-planning and booking of accommodations in advance. Do them in the spring or fall while the kids are in school (I'm assuming you aren't tied to school vacation schedules?) and temps are more moderate in the lower elevations of Moab (Arches and Island in the Sky unit of Canyonlands) and Springdale (Zion).

There are also a few state parks between the "Magnificent Five" that are well worth including, such as Dead Horse Point, Goblin Valley, Kodachrome Basin, etc. To top it all off, the drive on Highway 12 between Bryce and Capitol Reef is just killer: rated as one of America's most scenic. How long to spend at each depends on what you want to do - or not - while you're there but Southern Utah + Northern New Mexico and Arizona is our favorite part of the country.

Posted by
118 posts

how much time will you have? what time of year? and are you going to visit the major sights in the parks or to do some longer hiking? Since you mentioned the option of flying I'll assume you won't be camping.

If we make it our main vacation for the year it will be two weeks + a weekend. Time of year would be flexible except that we are not experienced at driving in the snow... we generally travel in the Autumn to be a bit off season and avoid crowds. I would love to camp but I don't think I could do it for longer than a weekend. I'm out of practice.

Posted by
118 posts

Are you time-constrained? If you have enough time, there's nothing like The Great American Road Trip through the west, punctuated by the awesome parks.

We LOVE road trips

Posted by
118 posts

Your husband obviously has a serious character flaw. You might want to reconsider this relationship.

LOL Jane I agree. Unfortunately I've got a few of my own ;)

Posted by
118 posts

Pam, on this forum is extremely knowledgeable about visiting Yellowstone. My only suggestion would be to consider a winter visit. We were there in February and it was wonderful! I don't think we will ever go back in the summer, but instead do more winter visits.

Lodging reservations for next winter opened on March 15, and summer reservations for 2019 open on May 1, I think. Only book through Xanterra for in park lodging (don't use third party websites).

I hope to "meet" Pam!! A winter visit sounds pretty lovely! We did Yosemite in early spring and got to see a bit of snow. Thank you for reminding me how far out I have to book... I remember booking the Grand Canyon and going through something similar but it's been a long while.

Posted by
9933 posts

Oops, I was editing when you were posting.

If going in Sept, I'd advise going the 1st 2 weeks of the month to avoid snow as in my post above.

14/15 days you could drive or you could spend a nice amount of time in and around the park.

Posted by
118 posts

Flying into Bozeman would obviously give you more time to dedicate to Yellowstone and Grand Teton, and if you're into Lewis and Clark lore there are a number of significant sights nearby in the Bitterroot Mountains. Can provide more details if you have any interest in that sort of thing.

Tons of interest in Lewis and Clark lore. Read Sacajawea by Anna Lee Waldo (as a kid... way too young...) on a family road trip so that kind of thing is interesting and nostaglic for me.

Posted by
118 posts

I cannot imagine trying to drive there from the LA area and squeezing in Utah parks (which ones?), unless you have at least 3 weeks or more at your disposal and are prepared to drive a few thousand miles (2k at a minimum just to drive to/from Yellowstone with no side trips)

The more I think about it the less I can imagine it too :)

Posted by
118 posts

Guidebook? The best, hands down, is Yellowstone Treasures by Janet Chapple. She has a wonderful mile by mile road guide.

HI Pam!! Thank you so much for all your input! I'll have to go back over it as I need to get back to work. In the meantime, I'll go ahead and order this book :)

Posted by
1353 posts

Tell your husband if you want to have a good trip you've GOT to plan way in advance - especially for the national parks! IMHO most of the national parks are becoming unbearably crowded in summer. Our best trip to Yellowstone was in the fall. Best trip to Zion and Arches was in very early April. We've only been to Bryce once - mid May last year and it snowed just a bit while we were there, we followed that with another trip to Zion which was hot and crowded (but not horribly so). Make your reservations as soon as they open up!

Posted by
2285 posts

"Tons of interest in Lewis and Clark lore."
OK, will send you a PM with more specifics.

Posted by
13735 posts

The Utah parks are fantastic and may deserve more time than you can
devote to them as an on the way sight. Again, it depends on your total
time available.

Agree! That's why I'd keep Yellowstone and the Tetons as one trip and do the Utah parks another time.

Posted by
288 posts

I am going to counter the idea of going after labor day. It is fine but most schools now go back in mid August and earlier if kids play high school sports. Many seniors have not figured this out so delay until after labor day to travel. In our travels around the west (we are in Colorado) we have found the last couple of weeks of August to be quieter than the 1st parts of September.

Doing Utah parks and Yellowstone in the same trip will require quite a bit of time. All the parks can be seen quickly on a drive by, but to really get into them spending a few days and getting off the beaten path can get you some great experiences. You can spend a lot of time in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons next door and JAckson Hole are also fun stops. Also the time Yellowstone is warm Utah is still pretty hot. And spring and fall are great for Utah, but Yellowstone may still be cold.

We generally camp in the park if you do driving is best, get reservations way ahead in summer.

Fun things are getting up at daybreak and looking for wildlife. Hiking off the beaten path will get you away from the crowds, there are many hiking guides to help with this. We generally spend a full week between there and Jackson/Tetons and never see it all. Granite Hot Springs just south of Jackson is a spectacular spot if you like hot springs.

Posted by
5778 posts

I'll just add one more voice and stress the following: do your trip planning with wildfires in mind.

In case you haven't been paying attention, huge fires have become more and more common in recent years. These "once in a century" fires are coming every year now, and when they hit, they impact vast areas. If you get unlucky, they can not only wreck your vacation, they can kill you.

Fire season in the western US used to be mid-summer to sometime in September. Now, in some places fire season runs almost year-round. Not much you can do about that, but if you want to avoid the worst fires, go before everything dries out completely - in late spring (late May is probably best in much of the mountain west).

And whenever you go, watch for fire reports as your trip approaches, and keep attentive as you're out in the woods.

Posted by
185 posts

Our travels to all these areas have been in our RV. We first visited Yellowstone and Grand Teton in September 2010. We spent two weeks parked outside of the park, in West Yellowstone. Then we moved to Grand Teton, which has a campground in which we can fit, and finished out the season there. Note that there is a fourteen night limit inside the parks. Now, this was during bad economic times, so we had no trouble with reservations. We learned about altitude sickness, which slows us both down.
Autumn was beautiful, the snow at higher elevations was rather intimidating, as this was our first time in this ecosystem. It's mating season for the elk, the males are magnificent. We did smell wildfires, although they were supposedly of the controlled burn type. They still stink, they still compromise views, no matter the source.

The next time we went to GT in July 2011. Winter had been severe, many a trail was still closed to hikers unless you had winter gear. The wildflowers, well, it looked like Monet himself had been there painting. It was crazy with tourists, everywhere. We stayed the entire fourteen nights allowed. We had made our reservations as soon as was possible, which I believe was right after the campgrounds all closed up in late September.

Our third visit was in June 2015. Schools were out for summer break, but mostly it was still childless visitors. Again, the wildflowers were stunning. Again, we stayed the maximum of fourteen nights. And again those reservations were made the previous autumn. We got a hotel one night up in Yellowstone in the Mammoth Hot Springs area, and spent some time driving places we hadn't accessed before. Smiling remembering the babies, all the babies. Bison calves galore in the Lamar Valley area. Elk calves right up in the hotel area. Yeah, smiling remembering.

We did the Utah Five in late April through May in 2013. We spent two weeks outside of Zion, then moved on. It was not crowded in most places, yet. The exception was Moab, from which one can access both Arches and Canyonlands. The city of Moab has a very active events schedule. We had a very hard time finding a place to stay there. Utah 12 is indeed an amazing drive, especially when viewed through the windshield of a motorhome. Just don't look down in places, gulp. Utah 24 is an otherwordly drive. Spring was already getting warm at the lower elevations, not so much at the higher ones.

From Moab it is an easy drive to Colorado National Monument in western Colorado, which is what we did while waiting for a spot in Moab. Afterward we went to Mesa Verde, which is also quite lovely.

Please think about taking your time as opposed to rushing through all these treasures. Remember the philosophy here, assume you can return.

Many a time in our explorations of the west we've gotten chased around by wildfire season, and it's getting worse and worse. For this reason I would recommend spring, as places are still in their green stage and are less likely to be burning.

You said you enjoy camping. A potential option is to rent an RV. We saw many a unit from Cruise America (and it's counterpart, Cruise Canada), as well as El Monte.

I know the park service is undergoing changes, but it looks like the annual pass is still available, as is the senior pass. We never minded the eighty dollars each year, considering it money well spent.

Enjoy!

Donna

Posted by
2449 posts

We visited Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks the week of 9/11/2016. We flew into Bozeman, MT and drove to Gardiner, where we stayed at the Riverside Cottages. We had hired private guides to see Yellowstone "through the backdoor", but they cancelled the morning before we flew to Bozeman. Luckily, the owners of Riverside Cottages helped salvage the trip with their excellent tips. It snowed so much on the first day that we didn't make it to Cooke City - but what we saw of the Lamar Valley was truly amazing. On our second and last full day, we drove through the park to see Old Faithful, stopping along the way at a few of the scenic highlights. I wish we had skipped Old Faithful and hiked through one of the other geyser basins instead - the crowds and traffic around Old Faithful took away from the experience.

http://www.riversidecottages.com

On Day 3, we drove through Yellowstone and Grand Teton to spend a couple of nights in Jackson, Wyoming. Jackson was a delight - lots of art galleries and outstanding restaurants. Bin 22 is one my all-time favorite restaurants. A tapas-like restaurant and wine bar in the back of a liquor store. The pulled mozzarella with artichokes was so good that we had to order a second one. We happened to walk in during happy hour and their selection of wines by the glass were all half price. We stayed at the Ranch Inn - perfect location and reasonable price for Jackson.

http://bin22jacksonhole.com/restaurant.php

http://www.ranchinn.com

We spent our last day in Grand Teton taking a float trip through the park. A peaceful and beautiful way to end our quick vacation.

https://www.grand-teton-scenic-floats.com

The Lonely Planet guide to Yellowstone and Grand Teton wasn't as useful to me as I thought it would be. My favorite guidebook was "Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and and Jackson Hole" by Jeff Welsch and Sherry L. Moore, published by The Countryman Press.

Posted by
118 posts

So I'm toying around with the idea of pitching my husband this route:
Orange County, CA to Silver City, NM (my brother lives there)
Silver City to Santa Fe, NM (to say in La Fonda... I love Harvey Houses)
Santa Fe to Colorado Springs, CO (his brother lives there)

I'm wondering if anyone can recommend something in between Colorado Springs and Yellowstone so that it's not a 12 hour drive to the park?

Posted by
6882 posts

Holy cow! That's only a somewhat shorter drive than to Yellowstone one-way....roughly 1,300 miles (vs 1,000 miles). Sure, you can find all sorts of parks (mostly forests, but many others) on that drive, there's a lot on the ABQ and Santa Fe area alone (I did a whole 5-8 day driving tour just of northwest NM). Just look on the map below at all the stuff around on that route. But I wouldn't want to do that drive personally unless you have a lot of time and really, really love to drive.

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Orange+County,+CA/Silver+City,+NM+88061/Santa+Fe,+NM/Colorado+Springs,+CO/@35.1670462,-107.0126521,8.86z/data=!4m26!4m25!1m5!1m1!1s0x80dc925c54d5f7cf:0xdea6c3618ff0d607!2m2!1d-117.8311428!2d33.7174708!1m5!1m1!1s0x86d8c79afbd994d3:0xa5b32e281d78ab10!2m2!1d-108.280326!2d32.770075!1m5!1m1!1s0x87185043e79852a9:0x8c902373fd88df40!2m2!1d-105.937799!2d35.6869752!1m5!1m1!1s0x8713412ea1e6d22b:0x418eeb92f5e86b13!2m2!1d-104.8213634!2d38.8338816!3e0

Now I'm a bit confused...what exactly are you interested in after all? You could just fly into ABQ, rent a car, drive up to Santa Fe and Colorado, and even that shorter trip will have plenty to do, see, and still quite a bit of driving (about 10 hours and 760 miles just back and forth between ABQ and CoSprings).

Posted by
13735 posts

Silver City to Santa Fe, NM (to say in La Fonda... I love Harvey
Houses)

Lordy, Santa Fe... don't get me started! If you've never been, that one is worth a trip all by itself! Lots to see both in the city and within reasonable day trips. Our fave U.S. city, that one.

Posted by
118 posts

But I wouldn't want to do that drive personally unless you have a lot of time and really, really love to drive.

2 weeks + a day or two
and yes we love a long road trip. I'm thinking literally I just want to spend 1 day with my brother and 1 day to look at this historic hotel I've wanted to see for a few years and a couple days with my husband's family. I just am considering stopping for one more overnight before we spend a week or so in Yellowstone.

Posted by
118 posts

I can't go to New Mexico and not visit my brother. And the closest airport to him is El Paso... and at that point it's cheaper to drive than fly. And there's not that much time savings either.

Posted by
6882 posts

Are you contemplating then driving from Colorado Springs to Yellowstone? That's another 700 + miles (and a bit less than 13 hours). By the way, have you been throughout New Mexico yet? It is truly a beautiful and magical place, you can easily spend a wonderful vacation there (and Colorado as well).

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Colorado+Springs,+CO/Yellowstone+National+Park/@42.2458605,-112.6183846,6z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x8713412ea1e6d22b:0x418eeb92f5e86b13!2m2!1d-104.8213634!2d38.8338816!1m5!1m1!1s0x5351e55555555555:0xaca8f930348fe1bb!2m2!1d-110.588455!2d44.427963!3e0

Posted by
118 posts

Yes, then Colorado Springs to Yellowstone... that's why I was thinking instead of 13 hours doing it in 2 travel days instead of just one straight shot (although driving 12 hours in one day is no big deal for my husband). If there is a worthwhile place to stop to break up those miles, we can consider it.

Posted by
2285 posts

When we head up there from Colorado Springs we usually stop in either Buffalo or Sheridan, WY ... about a 7 hour drive. Nearby is the site of Fort Phil Kearney - one of the old forts along the Bozeman Trail and the site of the Fetterman massacre during Red Cloud's War in December 1866 (Google it). The massacre site is a short drive from the old Fort and is a particularly evocative place, especially in the late afternoon.
Next day you'll pass Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument - also an interesting place to explore for a couple of hours if you haven't already been. Can walk around to stretch your legs or take a well done audio tour of some of the significant sites.

Posted by
8878 posts
Posted by
288 posts

Depends on where you want to go 1st. If you are going to the Tetons you can get off 25 at Casper and spend some time in the Wind Rivers. It will be much quieter and wilder there than in the parks. Riverton, Lander and Dubois would be the main towns to choose from, but the interest would be more back country stuff. You then head west and enter the Tetons through Moran Junction. You could similarly cut off earlier toward Laramie out of Fort Collins and spend time in the Snowy Mountains/Medicine Bow Peak area. Saratoga is a small town with amenities including hot springs and there is some old west history museums in the next town over Encampment. You then can head up and go through the other side of the Winds through Pinedale into Jackson from the south or through Lander again to Moran Junction.

Posted by
118 posts

The Colorado Springs to Jackson area should be a manageable one day drive

Joe, the south entrance route looks really attractive! Now I’ve got to do some Grand Teton research too :)

Posted by
9933 posts

Yes, per post upthread - 2019 reservations for Yellowstone open May 1 2018 at 8A MDT.

If you do head to Cody and overnight there you could enter the NE entrance via Chief Joseph and an out and back on Beartooth. This is a full day's drive so you'd want your first Yellowstone overnight to be at Roosevelt, Mammoth (or Gardiner) or Canyon.

Posted by
1860 posts

hi natalie
we did a 10 day road trip from san francisco bay area to yellowstone about 8 years ago. one of my favorites vacations among so many. we booked our rooms ahead of time, as long as we made it to hotel by 4 to 5pm for cocktail hour and dinner. first stop jackpot nevada was $49 at a casino, i'm sure more today. stopped at snake river in twin falls for viewing then to driggs thru gorgeous swan valley seeing the grand tetons WOW, teton valley cabins, one of my favorites, had dinner in town then to hot tub with a glass of wine.
Next morning to jackson hole wyoming, had lunch and cocktail at million dollar cowboy bar sitting on a saddle, saw two huge moose right at pullout, then thru park to west yellowstone and to kirkwood marina on lake hebgen. stayed in an old dolphin motorhome, don't know if still there but it was fun. spent 3 days there driving into park to ole faithful, next day another road to something different, packed a lunch stopped at a picnic area, all kinds of animals plus buffalos walking right next to car, walked to the sulpher flats. drove thru butte to missoula ( i understand the big sky country now!) to coeur d'alene spent night (cute town), hood river best western on the columbia river to portland down the coast back to bay area. One of my favorite road trips. I was the co-pilot, best seat and best friend loves to drive. happy travels
aloha