Monday, May 24, 2010

Whirlwind tour of western national parks (again?)

A long time ago, I read a column by Art Buchwald called the 10 Minute Louvre. In the column he explained how he located the 3 most critical works to see in the Louvre and he could either give people directions or take them himself and they could see all they had to see in 10 minutes. So when we lived in Paris, I did that too and was able to race people through the museum with stops at Winged Victory, Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa. What else do you need? (Just kidding!)

Anyway, I felt a little like I was on that tour as we raced through 5 National Parks/Monuments in 4 days (although we had already visited 2 of them)

On our first day out of Sedona, we traveled north, crossed the Navajo Bridge (NM) near Lee's Ferry on our way to Bryce Canyon(NP). We just had time to get a flavor for Bryce and definitely will be back. The Under the Rim trail looks great. BTW, it is amazing how many foreigners are visiting our western national parks. It really is an awesome place. It is different from the other parks with "hoodoo" like formations everywhere. Check it out.

We spent the night in Provo, getting there pretty late, and headed for Jackson Hole the next day. We arrived in time to visit the Grand Tetons (NP). It was cloudy and rainy most of the day and things looked pretty grim. After checking into our hotel, we took off to get a look at the scenery. At first, we could only see half of the mountains, but after a while things cleared up and we got a good view of the sun setting in the west.

The next morning we had breakfast in Jackson Hole and walked around the town. Here is a picture of an archway made of antlers in the common in Jackson Hole. There are a lot of antlers and there are several archways on the common.

Then on the way out of town, we saw our first Moose in the wild. There were a few of them feeding in a field not far from the road.

We headed back through Grand Tetons and through the south entrance of Yellowstone. Once again, like last year, some of the roads were closed, this time for road work.
We stopped at the West Thumb hot springs area. The hot springs empty into Yellowstone lake. There is a definite acidic, rotten egg like smell here. Here is one of the springs. Maybe you can see how deep it is.

And, of course, the obligatory bison....

From Yellowstone, we headed east and passed through the Bighorn National Forest and the Bighorn Scenic By-way. We shouldn't have been surprised, but we were very impressed with the beautiful scenery there. You'll have to pardon the photos as it was pretty overcast and my new camera was in the shop. I had to use the one with the sand blasted lens.

So, what is next on a trip across northern Wyoming? We had to stop at Devil's Tower NP. I was anxious to see this place as it rises up 800 or so feet above the otherwise rolling hills. It was pretty impressive. Maybe you recognize if from a sci-fi movie!

A little closer view...

Can you see the climbers in this photo? It is a well known place to climb. In the summer, climbing is prohibited as the Native Americans, who revere this place, have ceremonies and events during that time. Click on it to enlarge.

Here are a few photos of some of the local wildlife...

There were tons of these guys.

And, loads of these too.

And isn't this guy cute?

From the Devil's Tower we had a 4 hour drive to the Badlands NP in South Dakota. On the way we passed through towns like Sturgis and Spearfish, SD. We checked into a very rustic cabin inside the park near the visitor center. It is the only accommodation inside the park so it doesn't have to compete with anyone. No phone, tv or internet, although I glommed onto someone's wireless network. Probably a worker, nearby. We noticed tissues wedged between the window frame and the rotted screens, not a good sign. So I dug out our packing tape and made it official by weatherstipping the whole screen. It seemed to work. Judy was dying to get back here as she really finds it "otherworldly". It really is. We took a nice hike up and down the rocky formations. The trail was wide open but had yellow metal posts in the rocks to mark the way as you could get disoriented and it would be difficult to find a clear way back to the trailhead. Some more photos of that stop.
First, another critter outside our door.

Our cabin....

Judy on the Door trail...

On leaving the park..

Then off to Wisconsin. We ate lunch in Al's Oasis on rte 90 a couple hundred miles east of Wall. Al's seems to be a poor man's Wall Drug, but it filled the bill. We got into La Crosse in time for dinner at Piggy's and some great entertainment, see previous blog...

I'll have another post about our last tourist spot on this trip, Taliesin in Rock Springs Wisconsin. See you then.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful pix, as usual. Both Hannah and I are anxiously awaiting the last leg of the journey. Especially the pix of