Sleeping in the back of the RAV4 doesn’t always work well. The campsite was perfectly nice, the washrooms were handy, and they even had showers but the rain discouraged me from setting up the tent. I think I would have slept better on the ground but I didn’t want to pack up a wet tent so we did the RAV4 thing again. I was pretty tired when we headed out to see Old Faithful.
We got there around 9 am and the crowds hadn’t grown too large yet. There is a boardwalk that circumnavigates Old Faithful and a number of other geysers and hot springs. When you walk around it you feel like you are in some strange science-fiction film. The hot steam and sulphuric smells surround you. There was a sign at the entrance indicating a dog on a leash with a big X through it so I put Bus in my little front carrier and set out. About 2/3 of the way around a grumpy man yelled at me saying that dogs aren’t allowed on the walkway. I pointed out that Buster was not on the walkway but in a carrier but he was not appeased and told me we had to leave. So I actually did complete the full circuit but a lot sooner than I had intended. It put a damper on the visit. I don’t understand why he didn’t just come over and speak reasonably to me. Why is it that some people like to be officious? Is that the bully mentality?
We left Old Faithful and drove up the western side of Yellowstone Park following a route that can take a loop across to the eastern side then back down towards the campground where I had booked a second night. The sun would come out, then rain, then sun off and on all day.
As we drove north along the western side we encountered a traffic block. A grizzly had been sighted near the road and cars were lined up on both sides with people wandering about trying to see. Not the smartest move. It took forever to get through that spot and I never even glimpsed the object of all this attention.
I did see a few elk along the way and a number of bison. They flourish in this old park – touted as the first national park in the world. It was established in 1872 under Ulysses Grant. I don’t know what the back country of the park would be like but following the highways is far worse than following Highway 60 in Algonquin. There must have been thousands of people there even though this was the middle of the week and school isn’t even out yet. I preferred the east side – not quite as many people but still popular. There is a really cute museum at Fishing Bridge that I highly recommend. The rangers there are very friendly. In the other more popular visitor centres the rangers don’t come across as friendly but they are inundated by the tourists.
One thing I noticed was the number of burnt-out areas along the eastern route. They must see their fair share of fires.
At Fishing Bridge I decided we had had our fill of Yellowstone. It was very beautiful but way too populated so I decided not to go back to the campground even though we had paid for another night. Instead we headed for the east gate of the park and out into the incredible Wyoming landscape.
The beauty of this part of the world is mind-boggling. We drove slowly round the curves and peered over cliffs into deep valleys with rushing streams stopping at many of the pullouts to take pictures. I started seeing signs for dude ranches and thought why not? I needed a good sleep. Besides it looked like rain again and I didn’t want to sleep in the car. So I pulled into the UXU ranch.
What an incredible place! Two hundred horses, nine log cabins for guests, a log lounge/bar/restaurant with a lovely patio deck looking out towards the paddock. To get there you cross a wooden slat bridge over the raging Shoshone River – a bit of a stomach churner. The cabin had a truly comfortable bed and a modern bathroom. Bus and I were put up in the Sundance Kid cabin.
I met a woman from Wales who rides to foxes back home but had spent a full day out on a trail ride and just loved the Western style of riding. They saw a moose, a grizzly and a lot of elk. She was ecstatic.
The place as not cheap but I am so glad we stayed there.