Aug 31-Sept 12: Montana to Wyoming

After an amazing month discovering Washington, it was time to move on. We have so many more new and different things for our eyes to see. As we left WA, we drove through Idaho on our way to Montana.

We had a single night layover in Regis, MT at a cute little campground. Luckily, we were able to get Ashley out of jail and convince Addie that brothel life was not for her.

We continued our drive through Montana headed to Glacier National Park. The drive was absolutely stunning, so much beautiful country side.

We made it to West Glacier KOA Resort. It is considered a resort because it had multiple pools, a restaurant, ice cream shop, and mini golf, but the best part was the beer garden with a full bar in an old airstream camper. We had amazing weather while we were there making it an extra fun place to hang out.

It was time to check out Glacier National Park. The park got its name from its distinctive glacially carved landscapes. We know that many, many years ago the land was covered with glaciers. The glaciers still present today are in threat of disappearing in the near future due to global warming. We opted for the famous red bus tour as a way to learn about the park, its history and land formations. It also meant Shannon did not have to drive the narrow and scary Going to the Sun Road, but could instead just enjoy the ride. We had great seats in the back of the bus.

Day 2 at the park, Ashley and Shannon did a boat tour on Lake McDonald and saw the mountains from a different perspective, which was fantastic. It was even better because our tour was lead by a familiar voice from Boone, Katie Mac, who went to school with Mak and Ella.

We left Glacier and made our way south about 2 hours to Polson, MT. This KOA had a beautiful spot over looking Flathead Lake.

We drove around to explore the area and found the Selis Ksanka Qlispe Dam. Also excited to find the local brewery, Glacier Brewery. They had some fun homemade sodas, that Addie really enjoyed.

With the weather starting to cool down and the signs of fall upon us, we continued to travel south. We had a one night layover at Indian Creek Campground in Deer Lodge, MT on our way to Yellowstone.

One more day of driving through Montana, where we just continue to be amazed at all the different landscapes that we saw. We landed just outside the west entrance of Yellowstone at Grizzly RV, our home for the next 5 nights.

Super excited to see what Yellowstone had to show us, worried about crowds, we were up and out early for our first day. The day started with a yummy breakfast at Yellowstone Lake.

We had no idea what all we were about to see, hear and smell. We had a major science lesson in store for us. This park is filled with lots of natural wonders that you do not see most places. We were about to see fumaroles, mud pots, geysers, hot springs and so much more.

Our first day involved lots of driving around and taking in the sounds, sights and smells. We saw the Sulphuric Caldron, many Mud Volcanos, and even Dragon’s Mouth Spring. The pungent sulfur smells filled our noses. The ground in this area looked ready to explode at anytime. There was steam, bubbly water and hot air. Lots of signs saying watch where you walk.

We found the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, which was just a short walk to see incredible beauty. The magnificent carved canyon continuing to be shaped by a powerful waterfall into the Yellowstone River.

The Yellowstone River is the longest undammed river in the lower 48 states.

We continued to be amazed by the quantity of distinctly different beautiful things there were for us to see. It seems every where we looked we saw breath taking sights and the Tower Falls did not disappoint.

And then in case you were not impressed enough by the land and water, what do you see, but a coyote and a some buffalo out for a stroll.

As we decided how to prioritize our time, we made sure to add to our list the Petrified Tree. What we did not expect is that there was literally only one, in the whole park.

As we continued to explore, we came upon Roaring Mountain. This crazy landscape is not capable for humans to live on but there are some micro organisms that thrive here in this steamy, explosive terrain.

Our next stop put us at what is called Artist Paintpot. As we walked around these mudflats, our eyes were taken with all the colors of the different pools of warm liquids. You can definitely see how the area got its name. The experience felt other worldly. Hard to explain. It was not like anything we had seen before. It is truly hard to explain the beauty of it all and yet the amount of questions it raises as to how and why and what it all is.

Our last stop of the day was at Blood Geyser. This geyser gets its name from the red color of the ground surrounding it which comes from the iron oxide in the erupting water.

Our second day of exploring we started our tour at Norris Geyser Basin, one of the most popular things to see in the park. It was another truly incredible thing to see and smell. So many visually crazy things to see and try to comprehend.

The colors around the water tell us so many things about the water temperature minerals in the water and minerals in the surrounding earth.

Driving around the park is just amazing, stunning views and changing landscape around every corner.

Another top attraction at Yellowstone is Mammoth Springs. They have a whole little community built around it. As you walk through these calcified stairs trying to understand how they were so perfectly formed, you are reminded that our planet has been through some crazy things. We talk often about what it would have been like to be the one who first came upon such odd displays of nature.

A little less impressive but still worth noting are the Obsidian Cliffs.

Our third day in the park started with a chilly morning. But we were up and on our way early as we headed to the number 1 thing to see at Yellowstone, Old Faithful Geyser. Appropriately named, as it erupts approximately every 90 minutes to a height of 90-180 feet. It was amazing to see. The underground plumbing system that allows it to work is truly fascinating.

The surrounding area is known as Geyser Hill and it has lots of little geysers that go when they want. This area is a hot bed of activity. Luckily they have great sidewalks and benches for waiting and watching.

One of the most watched geysers in this area is Grand Geyser. It has a much more erratic schedule, erupting every 9-15 hours. On this morning it was thought it would erupt between 9am-12pm. We waited for 2 hours. It was worth the wait. It was spectacular, lasting about 10 minutes. It was said to be one of its tallest eruptions, measuring over 200 feet.

Watching the water shoot in the air was breath taking. It reminds you of the finally of a fireworks display.

Also along this route was Castle Geyser. The height from its eruption did not measure quite so high, but it was still an amazing scene to see nature at work continuing to create new land structures.

Also mixed in with the geysers are many different varies of nature’s HOT TUBS. As the water pools on the surface, it presents in many different variations. Each one affected by the water temp, the surrounding ground and minerals in the water.

This would make an awesome backyard hot tub!

How and why the geysers work the way they do, has everything to do with their underground plumbing. There is still much to study and data to be collected on what is actually happening in the ever changing landscapes of the park. So much science stuff happening here. In the IMAX movie about how the park came to be as the first National Park in 1872, we learned that the park was not deemed a park because of the volcanic activity, but because of the sheer beauty and uniqueness. It helped that it was seen as unsuitable land for building and living on.

There is definitely one species that is thriving in this environment. That is the buffalo. Traffic stops for hours at a time as they wander close to the road.

In the early morning, packs of buffalo can be spotted soaking in the beauty of the new day.

Our fourth and final day at the park, we hiked a short mile and half to get an aerial view of Grand Prismatic Spring. This is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world. It was very steamy on this particular morning.

Yellowstone is a huge park. We were grateful to have had 4 days to drive ourselves through it and explore everything we wanted to see. Being in this hotbed of activity was super cool and interesting. To see this volcanic area at work in such a unique way is a good reminder that our planet is a living being that is still evolving.

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