Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rafting in the Tetons and Driving to Yellowstone

This morning, my Dad and I went on a scenic rafting trip with Mad River Rafting Co., based in Jackson Hole. While we waited to leave for the trip, we checked out the Wyoming River Runner's Museum, located in the lobby of the rafting company. There was a great display of early rafts and boats used to float the rivers in the area in the early days of river travel. Along with three retired folks from Florida, we got in the van at 8:30 AM and went to the Snake River put-in. 

The scenic float lasted for about 2 1/2 hours, and was absolutely wonderful. The scenery was amazing and the guides had a lot of funny stories. We saw several bald eagles and lots of migrating birds. We returned to the shop and headed downtown for a little while and then to Dornan's, a restaurant recommended by our river guides. Dornan's was great - the food was delicious, but even better was the view of the Tetons from the roof of the restaurant.

The view from Dornan's

After we left Dornan's, we went back to the NPS ranger station in Moose, WY to check out the exhibit there before heading up to Yellowstone. The exhibit was really neat - there were sections on the animals in the park, the early explorers, pioneers, and ranchers, the geology, the park's ecosystems, and an art exhibit. 

Moose Visitor Center Exhibit

Moose Visitor Center Exhibit

Afterwards, we headed up to Yellowstone National Park. The drive was beautiful - we got plenty of views of the Tetons on the way to Yellowstone. After waiting in traffic for some road construction, we entered Yellowstone, and drove through a winding mountain road down toward the prairie. When we first entered the park, we were at a high elevation, and there was a lot of snow on the ground but we were relieved that most of the snow was melted in the prairie. 

Deep snow as we entered the park

Lewis Lake in the Southern area of the park

On the way to West Yellowstone, we stopped at Old Faithful, but it wasn't scheduled to go off for at least another hour and it was cold, windy and a little rainy outside, so we decided to go back tomorrow or the next day. 

As we headed over to West Yellowstone from Old Faithful, we saw buffalo on several occasions. Each time, they were walking either along the side of the road or crossing the road in small groups. It was really cool to see wild buffalo in the park, but it worried me that so many cars were driving so fast in the park with so many buffalo crossing the roads. Several cars passed me on the drive and I was going the speed limit.  

Buffalo walking next to my car

We got in to West Yellowstone at around 7:30 PM and checked into our hotel. Then, we decided to walk around and check out the town. West Yellowstone is a lot like Jackson, but a little smaller and a lot quieter, at least this early in the season. We grabbed some Big Sky IPA at the convenience store, and let me tell you, it is as good as I remembered (we used to drink this beer when I worked in Glacier). Colin and I hope to do the brewery tour at Big Sky, based in Missoula, later this summer. 

Tomorrow, we are going to go to a ranger station to find out which trails are open and accessible and then hopefully go on a nice hike. 

View Road Trip in a larger map

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