THE WEST–Through Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful, Painted Pots, and on towards Moab, UTAH
NOTE: Just to avoid confusion, I’m writing these trip reports from memory a year later. I took this part of the trip in mid-June 2011.
The next morning we left Cody for Yellowstone National Park. The closest entrance to Cody is the East Entrance – so off we went. The ride today was approximately 450 miles. The longest of our trip together. After Yellowstone, I had to essentially ride a North/South route through Idaho to Utah.
DESTINATION TODAY – YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
I’ve seen so much of this country. The USA is truly a beautiful and amazing place. There are days that I think I’ll expire from the shear beauty of the scenery. While there were days when the weather was challenging, most days were filled with scenery that was indescribably beautiful. Take my advice – pack your bike and go.
You might not have the right gear, you will never have enough money, you might even get lost a few times. BUT the rewards are beyond compare. Trust me – pack your bike and go somewhere. 500 miles in any direction one way would be a good start – you can ride that in two days easily.
Along the North Fork Highway we stopped for breakfast and met this fella.
Go and pet him Suzie!
This was my first “signature” National Park. Yellowstone is a Disneyland for tourists. You won’t find the sort of crazed Germans, survivalists, and foreigners who frequent Death Valley, Moab, etc. Yellowstone is a mainstream park.
For those of you who don’t know, Yellowstone covers parts of Montana and Idaho and the great bulk is located in Wyoming. The park was signed into being by Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 and was believed to be the first national park of its kind. Yellowstone covers 3,468 square miles and is administered by the National Park Service.
From what I saw, it’s run very well and the park staff was very polite and helpful.
We entered Yellowstone through the East gate. There is quite a climb as you near the Yellowstone lake. Of course, it started to snow! The temp gauge indicated a balmy 32 degrees. I needed TWO Gerbings for this trip!
The frosty shores of Lake Yellowstone.
When I say “Frosty” I actually mean “FROSTY” It was freaking freezing the entire drive around.
As we rode through the park I began to see a pattern. You would come along what appeared to be a massive car accident or a scene from “The Walking Dead”. Doors open, belongings strewn about, vehicles all over the place. No accident. Animals. If there was a Prairie Dog, Rabbit, Mouse, Guiney Pig, Elk, Bear, Russian Wolf Hound – whatever. People would absolutely freak out and come running with their cameras. Ignoring everything around them for a picture.
Yellowstone is absolutely massive. You could easily spend a week driving around and seeing the sites. If I were to do it again (and it was much warmer) I’d have spent a week there just getting to know the place. Then again, I wanted to see Monument Valley so I had an afternoon to devote to the park.
This turned out to be a perfectly timed experience. We parked the bike, stowed our gear and walked up to Old Faithful.
Almost on cue – it blew. Fantastic!
Me checking out the vintage park vehicle. You can still tour in this car. I’m wearing full leathers and a Frogg Togg jacket. Like I said, it was cold.
This is the Old Faithfull Inn. It’s an amazing place. The inside looks like some sort of crazy tree house. The construction must be stronger that it appears as people were poking their heads out from all different levels.
There are stairs and more stairs, they go waaaaaaaaaaaaaay up high.
I came back to the bike just in time. This little bugger was trying to get the zipper open on my tank bag. This is the second time I’ve had birds try to open it. The first was at Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley and now today in Yellowstone. Next time I’ll either zip tie the zippers or use the rain cover.
Thank goodness for Suzanne. I’d have missed this signature landmark of Yellowstone. It’s not that easy to see from the road and at that point I was focusing on the next 400 miles we would have to ride that day. Painted Pots is where you want to have the best camera you can afford and a massive memory card to burn pixels.
Located in the Lower Geyser basin of Yellowstone, Fountain Painted Pot is named for the colors of mud in the area (reds, yellows, browns, etc.). The amazing colors are derived from the oxidation states of the iron in the mud (thank you Wikipedia).
The park has created a series of boardwalks over the bubbling pots that allow for fantastic pictures. The colors are absolutely amazing. It’s a bit eerie to walk along over the bubbling superheated clay as some areas don’t’ have guardrails. Also, with the steam and wind, it covers the boardwalk and you have to pay attention to where you are walking.
Here are a couple of intrepid folks riding across country on a single cylinder BMW F650-GS.
Like I said, just grab what you have, pick a destination and go. This guy was a self proclaimed “beginner” who had already had an unfortunate low speed crash that ripped off his windshield. BUT – he was unharmed, happy, learning, and excited to be traveling.
HEADING SOUTH TOWARD SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
After exiting the Park we rode south towards Salt Lake. It was warmer now and as you can see from the pictures the scenery was amazing.
Having a passenger produced some amazing photos.
We stopped for the night in Ogden, Utah. I used Priceline to again find a cheap hotel and book a room. I usually submit bids in the $39.00 range and hope for the best. Most of the time on this trip I had good results. We unpacked our gear and considering everything else was closed, rode over to Denny’s for dinner.
THE NEXT MORNING – On to Moab, Utah.
Suzanne putting on the UT sticker. I bought them on ADV Rider. You can buy yours here They are not cheap at $40.00 a set, but I really enjoyed putting them on every time I crossed a new state border. The people who sell them are great too! I lost the RI sticker and they were kind enough to send me a replacement.
Back on the road, heading South to Moab.
We arrived mid-afternoon in Moab and decided to check out the Canyonlands Campground. Camping had originally been a big part of our trip and both Suzanne and I wanted to camp. Temps were now in the 90’s and although I don’t mind tenting in the heat, we settled on a cabin (that thankfully had AC).
If you look closely at the photo above you will see a gondola base, lift towers and the gondola landing area at the summit. According to the locals – I have no idea if this is true or not. An outside developer came in and build this attraction. Apparently there are Indian caves and lots of fantastic scenery up there. The locals said that the developer failed to get the proper permitting and the town would not allow them to open. The attraction closed and went out of business having never had a single paying customer.
I take this story with a large grain of salt as gondola cars, lift towers and the associated hardware run into the millions. It’s hard to believe that someone would be that clueless considering the investment involved.
Suzanne posing outside our cabin. You have to enjoy sand, gravel and more sand in Moab. The first thing we did was unpack our gear, change into swimsuits and hit the pool. There were a couple of ADV Rider types at the campground. A pair of guys from England taking a year off to ride around the USA. Nice guys. Somehow I’m missing the photos. Grrrrrrrrrr. That sucks.
Anyway, the pool was fantastic and relaxing.
Sphrockets, schmockets. I noticed a few tight spots in the chain in South Dakota. The sprockets themselves were in fantastic condition and I was still able to adjust the chain to spec.
Nothing like fine powdery grit to make chain maintenance a key issue of importance. Yes, I’m a fanatic – I know 36.25 PSI is an idiotic number. I should have just said 37 PSI and been done with it. . The Michelin Anakee II tires were holding up well.
We setup the cabin, turned on the AC and headed into town for a few cold beverages and dinner. It seems that everyone in Moab visits Eddie McStiffs for Happy Hour drinks and food.
The food was forgettable. “Southwestern” is how I’d loosely describe the menu with a splattering of burgers, wings, fries and brave choices for the uninformed “Atlantic Salmon” uhhhhhhhhh…. good luck with that.
We had a pleasant ride back to the campground. Moab is beautiful at night. It had been a fantastic two days and I could not wait for the morning to start the next ride.
NEXT – JOHN WAYNE’S WORLD – MONUMENT VALLEY AND ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
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