September-Yellowstone

During our two weeks in Yellowstone we spent a lot of time driving and looking and waiting for wildlife.  We have found that this is what you have to do to have great wildlife experiences.  Let’s face it spending hours driving around Yellowstone is hardly grueling as the scenery is so stunning.  Spotting wildlife isn’t terribly difficult either because when you drive up to an overlook and see lots of  people outside with tripods and their eyes glued to the eye piece you know there is something special, like wolves.  It has been a dream of ours to see and hear wolves in the wild.  We knew Yellowstone was going to be our best chance, we have yet to hear wolves howling but in the Hayden Valley  we were lucky and we saw several, all quite far away but easily recognizable as wolves.

 

Interestingly we did not do any hiking in Yellowstone we wanted to spend our time looking for wildlife.  Yellowstone truly is the Serengeti of North America, the diversity of wildlife is fantastic. We saw Bison, Elk, Pronghorn, Deer, Sheep, Wolves, Coyotes, Fox and Bears.  We left Yellowstone with great experiences, wonderful memories and some amazing photos.

A beautiful bull Elk

 

Please click here to view our September Flickr album.

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September-Yellowstone

We spent two weeks in Yellowstone, we have heard people say “yeah we did Yellowstone in a day,”  a day?! are you kidding me?  OK, you will see Old Faithful, a few other thermal features, the “grand canyon of Yellowstone” and Bison in one day but there is SO much more to Yellowstone than that.  We spent three days just visiting the thermal features, all the boardwalks are pretty short so you can easily do several of them in one day.  If you want to see the most impressive geysers, no Old Faithful is NOT the most impressive, then you need to park your butts and wait, wait and do a little more waiting. To get the most out of your geyser experience you also need to speak to the “geyser gazers” these passionate, kind and friendly folks really added to our experiences in the park.  If it were not for them we would have missed two really impressive geyser eruptions.

Within 20 minutes of arriving at the Old Faithful Visitor Center we saw Old Faithful erupt but as we walked around the area we heard that Beehive was going to erupt within the next three hours.  We were told that Beehive was more impressive because  more water shoots out of a narrower opening.  Beehive was amazing, we ended up waiting for almost two hours for the eruption.  One of the really cool things about Beehive is that it has an indicator geyser which starts shooting water 20 minutes before Beehive and indeed it did.  In fact they announce it on the PA system when the indicator is going off so people can get there to see the eruption which only happens every 15 hours!

Walking around the thermal features of Yellowstone is mind boggling.  Being surrounded by the strange smell, the sight of steam the sounds of the geysers (best sound effect award goes to Veteran Geyser) you are constantly reminded that you are on an active volcano.  Mind boggling.  Please click here to view our September Flickr album.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September-Grand Teton

We had earmarked 4-6 weeks in the Fall to spend in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. We had high expectations of these parks and wanted to give ourselves lots of time for wildlife viewing. We spent a week in Grand Teton to start and during that week we did some great hikes. We dragged friends of ours on the 18 mile Cascade Canyon trail, our friends are 64 and 67 and we were SO impressed with them. In addition to the stunning views in the canyon, which was full of wild flowers, we saw three bull moose!   Joe and I also hiked Garnet Canyon and Amphitheater Lake which were both amazing.  The view of Middle Teton from the Garnet canyon trail is fantastic.  You don’t see it until almost the end but you come around a corner and then BOOM, right in front of you, Middle Teton, WOW.  We were told by staff that any hike with “canyon” in the name would be great and we agree, sadly we could not access a few of those trails with the Heffalump because  Moose Wilson road has a vehicle length restriction which was disappointing.

We returned to Grand Teton for a few more days at the end of September hoping to see more Moose and fortunately we struck gold.  There were several moose staying in  and around Gros Venture campground, the most southern campground in the park.  We spent three days there and were able to photograph a few different males and females.  We had never been this close to moose and it was incredible!

We found the Grand Teton campgrounds expensive so we used a nearby national forest campground (Atherton Creek) just outside the park as our base. We were frustrated with not being able to access some of the roads and corresponding hiking trails but we loved this park and would not hesitate to come back.

Please click here to  view our September Flickr album.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 2017-Idaho

On August 20th we were in Kennewick Washington and we had decided that we wanted to see the eclipse so Joe looked into how far we would have to drive to get into the “zone of totality.” We decided that Cascade Idaho, which was in the zone and on our route to Yellowstone, would be ideal. We found a reservoir with free parking and waited for the show. There were about 40 of us, mostly families, the kids did a 30 second countdown to totality.  It was great fun.  It was certainly worth the ten hour, scenic, drive to get two minutes of viewing.  This was the first solar eclipse we have ever seen, to be outside at mid day and have the world go dark was really weird, eerie, amazing and cool.

Friends of ours had told us that they really liked Idaho and strongly urged us to spend some time there.  We are so glad we took their advice.  The drive along the 95 and 55 through Hell’s Canyon was stunning.   The city of Boise had a nice vibe and Twin Falls “the gateway to Snake River Canyon”  is a beautiful area.  We stopped to see Shoshone Falls just outside of Twin Falls which to be honest was a bit of a disappointment but only because it was late in the year so the falls were not at their fullest and most impressive.

Shoshone Falls

Our last stop in Idaho was Craters of the Moon NM.    We have visited several volcanic areas in our travels (El Malpais NM in New Mexico and Hawaii) and Craters is more of the same but certainly worth a visit.  The visitor center has a great display illustrating the geology of the area and the North Crater Trail to the spatter cones is really neat.  Please click here to view our August Flickr album.

August 2017-Washington

We spent a lot of August driving, from Alaska to Whitehorse, through BC into Washington and then through Washington into Idaho for the eclipse.  While in Washington we visited North Cascades NP where we did a spectacular hike, our favourite so far in terms of scenery and views. Cascade Pass/Sahale glacier, Wow, just wow. I had heard criticisms of this park in that it seems to say”look at all the mega structures we have built” well, yes there are dams and power lines but we still felt the scenery and views more than made up for it. Did you know that North Cascades NP has the highest concentration of glaciers in the lower 48? Do not miss this park!

Cascade Pass Trail

On our way to Mount Rainier NP we stopped in Seattle for another visit, we love this city.

The Luna Girls of Alki Beach

Luck was with us as we continued to Mount Rainier NP, no smoke, great weather and the wild flowers were still in bloom. We hiked the very popular Skyline trail and it is popular for good reason, stunning views.  We could see Mount St.Helens, Mount Hood and Mount Adams from Panorama Point-incredible!

Please click here to view our August Flickr album.

July 2017-Brooks Camp

Although it has been a wonderful five months for us, the highlight has to be our week in Brooks camp. Brooks is famous for its brown bears, located in the Katmai National Preserve, the bears are in abundance during the salmon run in July.

Too many fish!

 

We were especially lucky because during our stay the salmon were at their peak.   If you want to see bears, get close to bears and feel safe doing it this is THE place.

At one of three viewing platforms

Brooks is an amazing, special, place there are not enough superlatives to describe it so I will let our photos speak for themselves.

Please click here to view our August Flickr album.

July 2017-Yukon & Alaska

Most if not all RV travelers stop in Whitehorse on their way to Alaska. The Walmart in Whitehorse welcomes RV’ers but it is not a place you would want to stay for long, the parking lot is FULL of RV’s so no privacy and not scenic. However, it provides a great opportunity to meet fellow travelers, stock up on provisions and take a much needed break from long driving days.

We did not have great weather in Alaska in August of last year so we were hoping our luck would change this time. July is supposed to be better for weather and indeed it paid off to get there earlier in the year. We did not realize the views were so fantastic along the Glenn highway, WOW.  You just cannot beat Alaska for scenic driving, you just have to have a bit of luck with the weather.

We skipped both Kluane NP in the Yukon and Wrangell St.Elias NP in Alaska last year, with the rain and cloud we just felt it was not worth a visit.    This time we had to wait out a few rainy days but once the weather cleared we got to enjoy both these parks and once again WOW.  Kings Throne summit hike in Kluane had incredible views and was one heck of a workout.

King’s Throne summit

Likewise, the Bonanza Mine Trail in Wrangell St Elias was stunning. We also did a guided walk out on to the Root Glacier in the old mining town of Kennecott within the NP which was a great experience.  Alaska never disappoints!

walking on Root Glacier

Spring 2017 Flickr album.