Grand Teton National Park

GTNP is a small NP compared to YNP. The dozen or so peaks that exceed 12,000 feet are a spectacular sight rising straight up from the floor of the Jackson Hole with no foothills. The park is abundant with Elk and Moose feeding along the Snake River.

Over the last several years hundreds of miles of mountain bike trails and paved trails have been added all around the Jackson Hole. You can ride your bike from Jackson all the way to and through way the park. This area is really becoming a biking meca. Aditionally, there are a number of excellent hiking trails of which we were able to take advantage of with the mild day time temperatures and dry conditions.

The town of Jackson has become very touristy and pricey. There has been a considerable influx of foreign tourists coming in large bus convoys. The good news is that despite all the crowds you can still find relative solitude on the trails since most of these groups hop on and off the buses to take photos and then move to the next scenic look out. Can’t help but feel sometimes that the more popular parks feel  Disney like in the way they now have to manage transportation and crowds to accommodate up to four million visitors a year. Some of the parks are way to small to handle these numbers and now have waits of hours to get a shuttle into the park.

Excited to be heading west into Idaho to spend some time at several unique national monuments that require backcounty travel capability.

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Taggert Lake
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Bald Eagle Snake River
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Bird Watching at Snake River

Big Horn National Forest and Yellowstone National Park

We traveled through Big Horn NF on our way to Yellowstone NP. The weather in Big Horn was cold and windy but we managed to hike out to the Medicine Wheel. The Medicine Wheel is a sacred site for Native Americans, constructed by Plains Indians between 300 and 800 years ago. The various spokes of the circle align to astronomical events.

The weather at Yellowstone NP was cool but mostly dry, so we were able to complete a number of hikes and drive the park loop roads.

We made the obligatory visit to Old Faithful Geyser to see the eruption which we have to say is pretty cool. The thermal activity throughout the park is spectacular, especially in the morning when the air is cool.

Grizzly Bears were out and about while we were in the park. Many folks seem disappointed not to have seen a Grizzly up close however, they clearly do not understand the danger of an encounter with a Grizzly. We did have a terrific view from a safe distance of a female Grizzly by the lake. We also had to wait on one trail while park law enforcement drove off a Grizzly by firing blank shotgun rounds – a little too close for comfort.

The night time temperatures are dipping consistently under freezing so we are heading south towards warmer weather.

 

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Medicine Mountain 

Medicine Wheel

 

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Yellowstone Canyon
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Lower Falls Yellowstone River

 

 

 

 

 

Sheridan, Wyoming

 

Enjoying great weather as we journey west towards Yellowstone National Park. We spent a couple of days in Sheridan. This is truely cowboy country. Saloons abound along Main Street along with sellers and manufacturers of everything related to horses – saddles, bridles, bits, blankets, etc. This is ranch, horse and rodeo country.

We were fortunate to be able to stay at the Sheridan Inn while in Sheridan. The Inn first opened in 1893 and was home to Buffalo Bill Cody for a number of years. Cody would audition potential new acts for his wild west show on the large expanse of front lawn at the inn.

Western towns typically have alleys and narrow lanes running behind store fronts. We have learned to wander around in these spaces as they often are art spaces and living spaces. Sheridan proved productive in that regard. 0050,0051

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Kings Saddlery
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Sheridan Inn

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The Brinton Museum

The Brinton Museum in Big Horn, Wyoming is located on the Quarter Circle A Ranch. Bradford Brinton purchased the ranch in 1923. He came from a prosperous family, graduated from Yale and was general manager of the family business, Peru Plow and Wheel Co. Brinton renovated and expanded the ranch house, which became the museum in 1960 upon his sister Helen’s death. He and Helen agreed that the ranch property would be open to the public upon the death of the last surviving sibling.

The newer museum building, pictured below, built in 2013 with money donated by Forrest Mars, Jr. (think Mars Candy Bars) is beautifully embedded into the ranch landscape, providing spectacular views of the Big Horn Mountains.

The museum collection is dedicated completely to Western and American Indian art and is quite impressive. There is an entire gallery filled with Plains Nations clothing, some of which dates back to the 1850s. 0050

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Remington Pembina Half-Breeds with Red River Carts ca 1901
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Brinton Museum (museum photo)
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Remington Trappers Going to the Pierre’s Fight ca 1904

Devils Tower National Monument

We camped and hiked at Devils Tower NM near Moorcroft, Wyoming. This is the rock structure that was prominently featured in the Spielberg film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This formation rises over 1200 feet including the base. It is a sacred site for Native Americans and as you hike around the formation you will see prayer flags hanging from rocks and trees.

The bottom left photo was the view from our campsite. The formation so dominates the landscape that you just find yourself drawn to it and staring at it for several minutes at a time. 

Heading further West and North today and hoping the weather cooperates for a bit longer. The nighttime tempertures are dipping down into the thirties already and snow is falling in the higher elevations. 

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Devils Tower

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Belle Fourche River