We started our day around eight AM. It was a beautiful but chilly morning. Eagles and pelicans were out at our campsite, which started the day wonderfully. We packed our lunch and headed out to Jackson Hole and The Grand Tetons National Park. The sights were beautiful and peaceful, making for a great day.
A little about Jackson Hole: It is named after a beaver trapper, David Edward (Davy) Jackson, who trapped there starting in 1820. He was the first European to stay an entire winter in the area. Although Native Americans hunted the area and used it for religious ceremonies, the valley wasn’t inhabited year round until 1870. The valley lies between the Teton Range and the Gros Ventre Range.
The Grand Teton National Park: It is 310,000 acres just 10 miles from Yellowstone National Park and is part of the Yellowstone Ecosystem. Paleo-Indians hunted in the area 11,000 years ago and were the first known humans in the area. The Grand Teton mountain is 13,775 feet in altitude and rises 7,000 feet above Jackson Hole. The Grand Tetons are the youngest mountain range in the Rocky Mountains, 6 to 9 million years old and were formed by earthquakes on the Teton Fault and continues to shift due to an active fault block. This area is absolutely beautiful.
What a beautiful day. Next up: Day 5-8. Back in Yellowstone and the Henry Lake area. Thanks for reading!
We were off on our capers in and around Glacier National Park. Our base of operations was the lovely and well maintained Columbia Falls RV Resort, $35.83 per night with Passport America. Columbia Falls is the gateway to Glacier National Park. An adult bald eagle and a juvenile entertained us during our stay there and the owners of the Resort were very nice and helpful.
We spent 2 days in Glacier National Park and due to the late snows many roads and trails were impassable and closed. If trails weren’t closed for snow, they were closed for bear activity! Glacier National Park (the Park) is one million acres located on the Canadian border in two sub-ranges of the Rocky Mountains. It was formed 170 million years ago by tectonic plate activity and glaciers. In the Mid 19th century there were 150 glaciers in the Park, today there are 25 glaciers remaining.
The Park was inhabited by ancient Native Americans 10,000 years ago. They were ancestors to the Blackfeet, Flathead and Shoshone Native Americans. The Blackfeet ceded the land under duress to the United States Government in 1895. The Blackfeet and Flathead Natives are now on reservations adjacent to the Park.
Glacier National Park receives 2.2 million visitors each year. It is a gorgeous area with many species of wildlife and flora. 95% of the Park is designated wilderness area but as of yet has not received protected status. It has the best preserved Proterozoic Rock in the world and is visited by experts for study. It’s a fascinating place, spanning the continental divide.
One of my favorite places was visiting Polebridge, Montana.It is on the National Registry of Historic places and is half way down a 50 mile dirt and gravel road, Outside North Fork Road, between Canada and West Glacier. Polebridge is the Gateway to the wilderness areas of Glacier National Park, known as the Bowman Lake and Kintla Lake Gateway. All roads in this area are maintained in a primitive state to preserve the wilderness. The speed limit is 20 MPH and the roads can be impassible. We were lucky as the road opened the day before we arrived. There were handmade signs on the road near sparce cabins that read, “Slow Down, People Breathing!” It was a bucket list experience and really and truly “off the grid.”
Polebridge was founded in 1914 by William Adair. Mr. Adair had a reputation for growing huge cabbages, fishing, and drinking. He built a general mercantile, homestead cabin (which is now Northern Lights Saloon), and a barn. Today there are other small cabins there but none, including the saloon and the mercantile, have cell service or electricity. The population is listed as “somewhere between a handful and 90.” The Mercantile is now home to a fabulous bakery and rumor has it that it’s “the best bakery in Montana!” I’d have to say it’s one of the best bakeries anywhere. I had a Chunky Monkey turnover and Ray had a sticky bun. Heavenly! This area is really worth the trip! I got the tee-shirt!
Thanks for reading! Next adventure is the fabulous Yellowstone National Park! Don’t miss it!
Our next adventure was visiting the National Bison Range in Montana. To break the trip up we spent one night in Cheney, Washington at Ponderosa Falls Resort, $10/night with Coast to Coast points. We broke camp early the next day and headed to our base of operations for the bison caper, St Regis, Montana. We stayed at the St. Regis Campground for $43/night with Good Sam’s. This is a beautiful area in a beautiful state.
After setting up camp we decided to tour the area and then head over to the Bison Range early the next morning. The afternoon local tour was great. The area has Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort on the Clark Fork River, many scenic drives and trails. We really enjoyed the afternoon.
We got an early start the next day and were on the way to the National Bison Range by 8 AM. The Bison Range was dedicated in 1908 as a National Wildlife refuge, the oldest in the United States. It is the top bison research center in the US. A little history about the bison, also known as the buffalo. Bison is the correct word for this majestic creature. Buffalo is also an accepted term but the purist out there may give you a little grief over it. By 1890 the bison were nearing extinction due to the US Government’s efforts to eradicate the bison during the Indian Wars. The plan was to kill off the Native Americans by starvation by getting rid of their major food source, then move the survivors to reservations. It was a land grab by the European settlers, aided and abetted by the US Government. Sad.
The National Bison Range is 18,800 acres in the Lake and Sanders Counties of Montana. It is in the Mission Mountain Range and is located in the area of the Glacial Lake Missoula, a glacial lake formed more than 18,000 years ago. There is a small remnant of the glacial lake in the valley. The valley is spectacular, as are the views, the fauna and the flora. This National treasure only gets 250,000 visitors a year. It’s a little known gem.
We decided to take the Red Sleep Mountain Drive through the bison range. The drive is a 19 mile, one-way dirt road which winds over the mountain and valley. It did not disappoint us! Magnificent! The area was in full spring bloom and we had a great experience there. I highly recommending a day there. You can drive the road through the range in 2.5 hours but if you travel that fast, you’ll miss so much. We spent about 6 hours taking everything in. It was exciting. Ray had a small encounter with a teenage bull. The bull side eyed him, snorted and pawed the ground. Ray slowly and quietly moved inside the open door of the truck. Trouble averted. Please enjoy the following pictures. I had fun taking them.
We enjoyed this area very much. We watched animals interacting with each other. The Pronghorns were nestled for their rest right in the middle of the bison herd. The valley was full of song birds that we sat and listened to as we watched the herds. What a great way to spend a day.
Next up: Glacier National Park. Thanks for reading!
As of May 2, 2019, we have completed three full months of touring the beautiful USA. We parked our RV at Yosemite Westlake RV Resort, $30/night with Passport America, and began our fun. We took a little tour around the area to get our bearings and planned to head over to Yosemite in the morning.
Due to late season snows many roads and trails throughout Yosemite (the Park) were closed but we decided to make the best of what we could see. The Park is gorgeous but at the time we were there it was very, very crowded. With all the signs around about “Beware of Wildlife,” I believe they should have signs “Beware of Clueless Rubes.” Yep, we interacted with some!
Yosemite National Park was the first area designated as a national park when President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill on June 30, 1864. The 38th Congress passed the bill in both houses, to protect the area from commercial exploitation and preserve the area. The park is 748,436 acres, 95% is wilderness area, and is visited by about 5 million people a year. 9,500 people a year try to climb El Capitan and about half of those make it to the top. Yosemite was designated a World Heritage Site in 1984.
Yosemite is in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and was formed over time by volcanoes, plate tectonics, and glaciers. I did enjoy the Park very much but Yosemite is not first on my list of parks that we have seen so far. Maybe it’s because we were limited by trail and road closures, I don’t know. This just means that we need to go back when we can see more.
After leaving Yosemite we headed up to Willets, California where we stayed at Sleepy Hollow RV for $20/night (cash only) with Passport America. This was a stopover to breakup the trip. Next stop: Crescent City, California and it was a great coastal location. We stayed at Sunset Harbor RV Park, $13.50/night (cash only). It was a pretty nice place with harbor views and we could hear the fog horns at night. The people were so friendly, which makes me want to make a trip there (in the summer) and spend some time.
The Crescent City area, with a population of less than 8,000, is also known as Del Norte County and is about 20 miles from the Oregon border. It is still home to the Yurok and Tolowa Nations of indigenous peoples. The topography of the ocean is such that the area is prone to tsunamis. I so enjoyed the Battery Point Lighthouse, the oldest continuously running lighthouse in the US, operating since 1855. You can only tour this lighthouse at low tide. We ate some great seafood at North Coast Grill on the harbor, with a great view which included sea lions. It is a small local’s place where we met two women who had lived in Beaufort, SC. If you go try the mud pie. Good lord, ya’ll. They also had the best calamari that I’ve had in ages and all the seafood was excellent. “As god as my witness, I shall return!”
Well, Crescent City was a great place. I do hope to go back again. I also hope that you have enjoyed this blog. Stay tuned for Oregon adventures. Up soon!