Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chief Joseph Scenic Highway and Yellowstone Park

While at Cody, we based at the Absaroka Bay RV Park which was nicely situated to see all of the Cody area. The manager suggested we consider that we take the Chief Joseph Scenic highway to Cooke City, MT and then through Yellowstone Park back to Cody. Sounded like a great plan to us!

The Chief Joseph Scenic Highway runs 47 miles through some outstanding terrain and is a great drive that crests at 8.000'.

The road travels through some sharp turns and grades, as a result, large vehicles are not advised. Glad we took the HHR and not the coach!

The highway is named after Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe who fled the Yellowstone area to avoid being forced onto a reservation. He successfully evaded a large US Army force through some very difficult terrain and was successful in reaching the Montana area with his tribe.

They certainly were not kidding about the sharp turns! The HHR made the drive fun and we enjoyed the many scenic turnouts.

One of the amazing things we saw on the drive was this bridge that crossed Sunlight Gorge. When we drove up to the bridge, it did not look very dramatic since the bridge is at the same level as the road and surrounding land. The gorge, however drops vertically several hundred feet and as you get close, is very striking.

We also saw this fox dart across the road and were delighted to see him. We were not aware that we were to see much more wildlife in the next few miles!

We left the scenic highway and traveled through Cooke City, MT. We entered Yellowstone at Silver Gate, in the northeast corner of Yellowstone. We had never entered the park from this point and were curious to see what we would run across.
The Silver gate is not heavily used and perhaps this accounts for the wildlife we saw. As we came around a corner, I saw a couple cars parked and looking up, saw this grizzly bear on a ledge about 100' above the road. WOW! This is the first grizzly I had every seen and even with the telephoto lens, the bear was impressive!

As we drove down toward Fishing Bridge, we encountered a couple of very large bison herds, including this calf. These are very impressive, large animals that you need to treat with respect! This group of bison were right on the road and we waited several minutes for them to cross. Very cool!

Heading east toward Cody, we passed Yellowstone Lake. This huge lake is near 8,000' in elevation and is beautiful with the snowcapped mountains surrounding the lake. It is also clear as glass.

As we drove by the Lake, lo and behold, we saw this large black bear ambling off to the side of the road. He was a big fellow, but I don't think he was a big as the grizzly we saw earlier. What an amazing day -- we saw two bears in one day. Pretty well sums up a great day!


Karen and Al said...

You had a good wildlife viewing day didn't you?

Rick and Orinda said...

We had a great day! First time I had ever seen a grizzly although I have been to Yellowstone a number of times.