We had a rental car and an afternoon, so decided to head west from Cody towards Yellowstone, despite the scepticism of the hotel desk clerk and his warnings about twisty roads with no guard rails over tall mountains. Even before we got to the park it was ridiculously scenic. The highway (20/14/16) passed by Buffalo Bill Reservoir, part of Buffalo Bill State Park. Before reaching the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park we also passed through or by Shoshone National Forest, North Absaroka Wilderness Area and Washakie Wilderness. So beautiful!
Surrounding peaks soared to ten, eleven and twelve thousand feet! Such different terrain than Northern California. Another contrast to our dry summers was the afternoon thunder showers we were treated to. Just before Sylvan Pass at 8,541 feet I pulled over, intrigued by a sign for Corkscrew Bridge. The remnants turned out to not look particularly twisty, although you can see a bit more evidence to support the corkscrewness in the satellite map view, and this nice article explains the history.
I hadn’t done much research beforehand, as I wasn’t sure if we’d have time for a Yellowstone jaunt, so I was rather suprised by Yellowstone Lake. Both that it was there, and that it was so large! We stopped for some drifting mist that yes, turned out to be geothermal activity. <insert scratch and sniff sulfur here>
From Fishing Bridge we headed north on park roads, aiming to make a loop out the North East Gate and back on 296 and 120 to Cody. I didn’t feel like slogging through the stop and go traffic to Artist Point, but we were able to get some great views of the falls and canyon from the other side, and that was the worst of the traffic we encountered.
I was super excited when I saw my first buffalo, and Eric was nice enough to turn around so I could see it again and take pictures. No one else seemed to have noticed it off by itself in the mid-distance. As we kept going there were a few more, and more, and later a very large herd spread all over a broad valley, which made my excitement over the single one seem a little funny.
As we headed back toward Cody we were treated to amazing views, a double rainbow and all sorts of dramatical clouds. Oh, and a brief blip into Montana. It was just a taste of the area and the wonderfulness of Yellowstone, but I’m very glad that we went.