We made it! We spent 12 days traveling, sightseeing, hiking and enjoying some of the most beautiful wilderness our country has to offer.
We started our trip at Mesquite on Thursday night, I got off work Thursday at 1800hrs and drove to Mesquite Nevada. We stayed at the Falcon Ridge resort. We slept till about 7 am, got up, ate breakfast and headed for Zion, the drive was absolutely awesome.
On arrival at Zion National Park, we were informed that driving to the best parts of the park was not allowed and we had to take the tram, so we did. The tram runs every 6 minutes and runs until 2300hrs so you donâ€™t wait long between rides. We got there early and the first trams were nearly empty, on our return from the last stop it was full, standing room only. We noticed the Angel Landing trail that Sue went on a while back, GREAT trail, and NEXT on our list. We left for Bryce Canyon after about 5 hours of looking around Zion, what a great place.
We arrived at Bryce Canyon about 1530hrs on Friday the 30th, we stayed at Rubyâ€™s (it appears that Ruby has pretty much taken over every aspect of business in Bryce) It was a very nice room and very close to the entrance of the park. We unloaded and hit the park.
Our way of checking out National Parks is and has always been to see the furthest place from camp first. So we headed out to Rainbow point, checking things out along the way and planning our adventure for the next day.
We decided that the best idea would be to see sunset at sunset point, so we did then had a nice dinner at Rubyâ€™s.
The next morning we watched the sunrise at Bryce point, overlooking the â€œhoodooâ€™sâ€ and then Hiked the Navajo to Queens Garden trails. Those trails took us to the bottom of the canyon and up the other side, then we hiked around the canyon on the rim trail. I think it was a 5 mile hike all together. A good start.
We toured Bryce the rest of the day by vehicle and a few small hikes to see things, then we decided to take the scenic byway and check out â€œEscalanteâ€ On the way we saw some really great rural towns.
The next day we headed to West Yellowstone, it was supposedly a 10 hour drive, we did it in 8.5.
West Yellowstone was just getting into â€œSeasonâ€ and starting to get busy. We checked in at our home for the next 3 days and hit the park. The first thing we see is BISON, and a small Elk, the Elk have no racks yet because itâ€™s early spring. We also spotted an Eagles nest right next to the road. Rangerâ€™s were not allowing folks to stop, but we managed to get a few pictures.
The wildlife viewing around Madison River is awesome but we were just getting our bearings, we had 3 days and it was early in the afternoon so we headed to a place called â€œMammoth Springsâ€ and Lamar valley for evening feeding. We saw more wildlife, Bison, Elk, Moose, Bear, and Wolves. When we saw photographers lining the roads it was a sure sign something was out there.
The next day we went on a hike on the â€œHells Roaringâ€ trail. It crosses the Yellowstone river via a suspension bridge, and goes through a meadow (good wildlife viewing) A hike of about 8 miles round trip. We had a great lunch in the meadow and set up the spotting scope for long distance viewing. Saw some very happy bears and a few Elk calves, the weather was cold but clear. An awesome day to say the least.
The next day we headed up to Canyon, itâ€™s a higher elevation and the snow was still present, several places the snow was over 10 ft deep. We ended the â€œupper loopâ€ of Yellowstone by hanging out at Lamar valley at dusk. As we were driving Deb looked out the window and saw a herd of Elk running, we pulled over and saw why, there was a Grizzly Bear chasing them. We got a chance to snap a few pics before the crowd showed up and blocked the road.
Old Faithful Inn was our next destination.
We walked around the geysers near the hotel prior to check in. We found out upon checking in that internet access nor TVâ€™s were available in the hotel. Sigh. Actually it was a very cool thing.
We spent our evenings in the lodge overlooking the lobby and drinking either coffee or adult beverages.
We got a lot of snow over the next three days and several times the Rangers closed the roads and passes into and out of the hotel area. BUT: I was driving a 4×4 and they allowed me to travel most of the time. The geysers stink, but when they erupt they are kind of cool.
Our big hike while we were at the inn was the Mystic Falls trail.
This trail is only a couple miles, unless you take one of the other trails that branch off of it, we did that. Once we got to the top of the trail, we hiked through about half a mile of snow 1 to 4 feet deep. But the view was worth it.
Our next spot was the Grand Tetons
Jackson Hole Wyoming is a very busy place, spring has sprung for the most part but there was still snow all over the place. We checked in and went out sightseeing. Our next day we had lined up a biologist guided tour.
At 0600 a van shows up and picks us up we are the only customers on this expedition. Well I figured a tree hugging, environmentalist would be pointing out the wildlife and flowersâ€¦I was wrong! The guide was an avid hunter, survivalist, hiker, and a very knowledgeable kid. (He was only 24) he believes in expending energy to eat, he hunts to fill his freezer for the winter months, he keeps no trophyâ€™s and he knows the area. He took us to some amazing places in the comfort of a 4×4 van with a roof that opens for picture taking. It was an awesome 8 hour tour.
The next day was our last and we hit the Hidden Falls trail, to access this trail you can hike around â€œJennyâ€ lake or take a shuttle (Boat) to the other side of the lake. We took the shuttle, then hiked the lake trail back. The trail was very steep and you could go a long way if you wanted to, we encountered a couple of folks going out on 3 to 5 day hikes. We went to the fork in the trail where a creek feeding the falls is level with the trail, we had lunch and turned around, it was 9 miles total.
We ended up leaving shortly after the hike, we packed up and hit the road, taking the scenic bywayâ€¦.
We saw all entrances to Yellowstone, we went to Pahaska (Buffalo Bills hunting Lodge) on the east side, and ate dinner.
We drove both the upper and lower loops as well as all exit/entrance roads, My favorite place has got to be Cook City or Silver Gate, I will be working toward retiring in that area.
Here are a few pictures, Enjoy.
I will upload a few more after I get caught up on all the stuff I am behind on NOW!