Go See Do Photography

A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

Tag: road trip (Page 1 of 7)

Glacier National Park: Two Medicine

Sinopah Mountain in the Fog

In the summer of 2021 Glacier National Park, instituted a reservation requirement to drive the ever-popular Going-t0-the-Sun Road during the day. These reservations were very difficult to get and many people chose to postpone their trips to Glacier. Those that did not were able to get to the road early in the morning or in the evenings. Another option was to explore the other areas of the park that are not on Going-to-the-Sun Road. Two Medicine is one of these areas.

Historically, the Two Medicine Valley has been one of the least visited parts of the park. Parking was much easier to come by than Many Glacier and the road was not under construction. The drive to the Two Medicine Valley was probably the most breathtaking in the park outside of Going-to-the-Sun Road, although it still had some nail-biting turns! And the view, once you get there (top), is pretty great too!

Kayaks on Two Medicine Lake

Boats on Two Medicine Lake

By the time we got to the Two Medicine Valley for our boat tour, the rain we had been anticipating all day finally came. We contemplated canceling our boat ride, but the tour boats are enclosed and there’s not really another dry option in the park. This boat ride can be used to cut the hike to Upper Two Medicine Lake in half, but with hail coming down, we opted to just relax and stay dry on the boat.

I highly recommend taking one of the boat tours in Glacier National Park. They fill up early, a few weeks in advance, Two Medicine was the only one available for my time in Glacier. Assuming the Going-to-the-Sun Road reservations continue into the future, boat tour reservations on St. Mary Lake and Lake McDonald get you access to the road for the day of your reservation. Check Out GlacierParkBoats.com for pricing and to purchase tickets.

Aside from the boat tours, there are miles of hiking trails to explore in the Two Medicine area of the park. After our boat tour, we enjoyed walking around the Two Medicine Store, which was built in 1914 and is a National Historic Landmark. The 100 site Two Medicine campground is in this section of the park and offers first-come-first-served campsites (10 sites are able to accommodate RVs up to 35 feet) with no electricity but flush toilets.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Swiftcurrent Creek

Many Glacier Area

Glacier National Park: Exploring Many Glacier

Swiftcurrent Creek

In the summer of 2021 Glacier National Park, instituted a reservation requirement to drive the ever-popular Going-t0-the-Sun Road during the day. These reservations were very difficult to get and many people chose to postpone their trips to Glacier. Those that did not were able to get to the road early in the morning or in the evenings. Another option was to explore the other areas of the park that are not on Going-to-the-Sun Road. One of these areas is the Many Glacier area.

This area is home to the picturesque Many Glacier Hotel. At the base of a mountain on Swiftcurrent Lake, this is where I want to stay on my return trip to Glacier. The hotel is also the base for one of the park’s boat tours. The boat ride across Swiftcurrent Lake can help cut some mileage off of one of the longer hikes.

Dock on Swiftcurrent Lake

Many Glacier is the jumping-off point for one of the more popular hikes in the park, The Grinnel Glacier Trail. The 7.6 Mile (although boat rides can shave off 3.4 miles) round trip hike gains 1840 feet in elevation and gets you a view of the 152 acre glacier, one of the largest left in the park. When we visited at the end of June, most of the trail was still snow-covered and rangers were in the parking lot, dissuading people from embarking on the hike.

Unfortunately, road construction on Many Glacier Road left us with much less time to explore this part of the park than we had originally hoped. We ended up just walking the Swiftcurrent Nature Trail around the lake before heading back to the car so we could make our reservation for the boat tour in the Two Medicine area of the park. Because of our limited time in Many Glacier, I definitely want to return and maybe try my hand at the Grinnel Glacier hike.

Since this is one of the areas of the park that didn’t require a reservation this year, the small parking areas filled up early in the day. I was hoping the road construction would keep people away but that did not appear to be the case at all. If you plan on exploring the Many Glacier area, plan to get there early to make sure you have a place to park.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to stop by next week as we explore the Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

East Side of Glacier National Park

Wild Goose Island

After leaving Yellowstone in the morning, we arrived at the East Side of Glacier National Park after about seven hours on the road. The famous Going to the Sun Road hadn’t opened for the season yet, so the east side of the park was pretty quiet.

Baring FallsEven though we knew we couldn’t cross Logan Pass, we turned on our GyPSy guide and drove the part of the road that was open. One of the hikes the guide recommended as an easy hike on the east side of the park was the hike to Baring Falls (left). The hike is less than a mile round trip and was a good way to ease into hiking in Glacier with only 400 feet of change in elevation. At a 25 foot drop, Baring Falls is by no means the biggest waterfall in the area, but it is definitely one of the easiest hikes on the east side of the park. We saw a deer grazing near the water, which was a nice treat.

Room at Rising Sun Motor Inn

Our room at Rising Sun.

After our hike, we headed to our room for the first part of our time in Glacier at the Rising Sun Motor Inn. This location wasn’t my first choice, especially so early in the season with the Going to the Sun Road closed, but the room was available two months ahead, so we grabbed it. The motel-style hotel is not my favorite but I will take it if it allows me to sleep inside a National Park. The rooms were clean and the private bathroom was a big step up from our Old House Room at the Old Faithful Inn. We hardly saw anyone else around. The downside to staying at Rising Sun in 2021 was that the restaurant, Two Dog Flats, was closed for the season due to staffing shortages. I didn’t think anything of it when we got the email in advance. I figured we would be able to find some food outside the park in St. Mary. I did not realize how dismal the dining choices would be. If I had it to do over, I would’ve planned to cook on our camp stove in the Rising Sun Picnic area across the street.

Overall, I enjoyed our stay at Rising Sun, but if you’re booking early in the season, be aware that the Going to the Sun Road probably won’t open until the end of June or early July and that really limits what you can see. If Two Dog Flats is closed again, you may want to try to find lodging on the west side of the park where there are more services.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

One Day in Grand Teton National Park

Snake River Overlook

After our day exploring Yellowstone’s geothermal areas, we headed to Grand Teton National Park. When planning this trip, Grand Teton was not on my “must-see” list. It was more important to be me that we saw everything we could at Yellowstone, but we covered most of what we wanted to see in our first two days, so we hopped in the car and headed for Jackson. After walking over ten miles the day before, it was nice to sit in the car for a bit of a drive. Coming from the Old Faithful Inn, we didn’t rush in the morning, so parking for most of the popular hiking spots was full by the time we got there, so this was just a day for driving the loop road and seeing the Tetons.

One thing that makes the Tetons so unique is that these mountains seem to pop up out of nowhere. There are no foothills surrounding them. The drive from Yellowstone on the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway was not a hilly or incredibly interesting drive and then just all of a sudden there are these three lone mountains. Its a very unique landscape and I can understand why Mr. Rockefeller fought so hard to make this area a National Park.

View from Signal Mountain Road

Just like with the other areas we visited on this trip, we used the GyPSy app to guide our exploration of the Tetons. One place I probably wouldn’t have explored without the app, was the winding Signal Mountain Drive. The view of the wildflowers and the mountains in the distance made it a beautiful place to stop and stretch your legs (above)!

Moulton Barn in Mormon RowIn Grand Teton, the one place I knew I wanted to stop at is the iconic Mormon Row. The old buildings here are what I picture when I think of Grand Teton. At the turn of the 19th century, 27 Mormon homesteaders headed to the area that is now a part of Grand Teton National Park, to live off the land. The land is surprisingly fertile and the homesteaders worked for years, digging ditches and levees to improve the irrigation for their crops. Water still flows in these ditches today. By the 1950’s most of the families sold their land to expand Grand Teton National Park. Mormon Row was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

Another iconic stop in Grand Teton is at the Snake River Overlook (top). There is a famous Ansel Adams photograph of this location that was taken in 1942. Of course, the trees have grown a bit in the last 80 years so it doesn’t look exactly like it did when Adams stood there, but it was really fun to try to find the right perspective to match that iconic shot!

Bison in Grand Teton

Bison in Grand Teton National Park

This drive through Grand Teton was fun, but I know we barely scratched the surface of the park. Whenever we return to Yellowstone, we will have to devote more time to Teton and getting off the beaten path. I would love to get out on the water of Jenny Lake and stay in one of the iconic park lodges. We never made it to the town of Jackson either, so I would like to get to explore that area too!

 

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to come back next week when I end our day with more geysers at Yellowstone! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Firehole Falls

Wordless Wednesday: Yellowstone Bears

Mother Bear and Two Cubs

Yellowstone: Mammoth and Canyon in One Day

Mammoth Hot Springs

Steam coming off Mammoth Hot Springs

This post contains a lot of information about driving around Yellowstone. Here is a link to a map of the park, that will probably be a helpful reference while you read about our first day in Yellowstone.

Our first day in Yellowstone, we came into the park from Cody. I really believe this played a hand in our ability to see so much of the park in just one day. Unlike the west entrance, there was no line coming in from the east side of the park. The first point of interest coming in this way is Yellowstone Lake and the Fishing Bridge area. This is one of the lesser-visited parts of the park and it felt like we were the only people around for miles.

Clouds over Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake (above) is a sight to behold. Situated at 7700 feet above sea level and taking up 132 square miles, Yellowstone Lake is the largest high elevation lake in North America. Because of the large surface area, sudden gusts of wind can create large waves making open water crossings of the lake very challenging. Because of that and the cold water temperatures, boating on Yellowstone Lake is not incredibly common.

Grand Canyon of the YellowstoneFrom Fishing Bridge, we headed north to Canyon Village and one of my must-sees, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. There is a very large parking area in the canyon area and we had no trouble finding a spot to park.  One of the best views of the falls can be found at the Artist Point trailhead (left). I love how even unedited photos of the waterfall look like a watercolor painting. This is one of the most popular areas to hike in the park with plenty of hiking trails for all abilities. For more information about hiking in Yellowstone, visit NPS.gov.

The color of the rock makes The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone one of the most unique waterfalls I have ever seen. At one time a geyser basin was located at what is now the base of the waterfall. The heat and chemical activity of those geysers created rhyolite, a soft and brittle rock. The rhyolite reacts to oxygen in the air and in effect, the canyon walls are rusting, which gives it that unique yellow color.

From Canyon, we headed toward Mammoth. The drive through that part of the park felt longer than going from Lake to Canyon, but maybe it was just that there isn’t anything to stop and see from Norris to Mammoth. I’m not sure if this is normally the route you would take to get from one area to another, but the road from Tower/Roosevelt to Canyon was closed for construction in 2021.

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs (top and right) was another feature on my Yellowstone Must-See list. I had seen photos of the unique, stair-like geothermal feature and wanted to see it for myself. The water in the springs container calcium carbonate that over time cools and creates these unique rock formations. It was interesting walking around and seeing how the pools have shifted over time, as evidenced by forests of dead trees with white, calcified bases.

Bear and Two Cubs

From Mammoth, we headed to Tower/Roosevelt and this is where we encountered our biggest “jam” of our time in the park. This time, instead of elk, it was a mother bear with two cubs (viewed from a safe distance, of course, and with a ranger standing by with bear spray). It was super cool to see these wild animals through a zoom lens. It was definitely better than seeing them at the zoo!

After our bear encounter, we headed out the Northwest Entrance of the park to Gardiner for dinner. Be sure to stop back next week as I share about our day of exploring geysers and hot springs!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Yellowtone National Park Overview

Bison in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park was the world’s first national park and was signed into law by Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 to protect the otherworldly landscape that is Yellowstone. Located in northwestern Wyoming and spanning into Idaho and southern Montana the park encompasses 3,400 square miles, and is larger than the state of Rhode Island. It is separated into distinct geological areas formed by geothermal features unlike anything I had ever seen. From the sprawling Yellowstone Lake to hot springs and geysers and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, you could spend weeks in the park and not see everything. Ever since we were driving around Yellowstone, I have been trying to figure out how I am going to recap this enormous park!

We only had three days to see as much of the park as we could. Of course, I wanted to hit the highlights: Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Surprisingly, in such a short time, we were able to see everything we had hoped to and more.

Old Faithful InnStaying in the park helped us tremendously. Driving in and out of the park can take away 2 or more hours of your time and when you are battling the record number of visitors that are coming through the gates in 2021, you need all the time you can get. While exploring the park, we heard many people say that you cannot get a room at the Yellowstone Lodges unless you book a year in advance. We managed to get our room at the Old Faithful Inn two weeks in advance. Just keep checking and it helps to subscribe to the Yellowstone National Park Lodges newsletter. They sent out a newsletter that they were opening up more rooms for the 2021 season and I was able to snatch one up before they were gone.

Staying at the Old Faithful Inn (above) was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. The Inn was built in 1904 from locally sourced materials including lodgepole pine. We stayed in one of the Old House rooms that has walls made of logs. Staying in that (admittedly small) room, you really got a sense of the history of the place. The GyPSy guide called the Old Faithful Inn the only building in the park that feels like it belongs. The Disney Nerd in me understands now where the idea for the Wilderness Lodge came from. Probably the best part of staying at the Inn is sitting out on the Mezzanine and watching Old Faithful erupt without having to be crowded around strangers and enjoying a drink.

Walkway at Mud Volcano

Walkway at Mud Volcano just before the rain

Another trick we learned when visiting the park in the summer was to leave in the middle of the day. The parking lots filled up and it got hot, so we headed to one of the towns outside the park for food and air conditioning. Then, we headed back into the park as the day guests were leaving for the day and we explored until the sun went down. We also got lucky with the weather. Our first day in the park was forecasted to thunderstorm most of the day and I think this kept some visitors out. We managed to time it so we were driving when the worst of the rain was coming down and we managed to see most of what we wanted to on that first day.

Now that I’ve given you a little overview and some tips for making the most of your time at Yellowstone, next week I will begin to recap the highlights of the park! Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Jewel Cave National Monument

Jewel Cave Header

Jewel Cave was discovered in 1900 when two brothers felt cold air blowing out of a hole in a canyon. They opened the hole with dynamite and found a cave lined with calcite crystals, which is where Jewel Cave gets its name. Word of the cave reached Washington and Theodore Roosevelt named Jewel Cave a National Monument in 1908.

Up until 1956, only about 2 miles of the cave had been explored. Famous rock climbers Herb and Jan Conn explored Jewel Cave for twenty years and mapped out over 65 miles of the cave. Herb Conn wrote a scientific paper about airflow in the cave and based on pressure changes, he estimated that 95% of the cave has never been explored. With 209 miles of cave mapped, Jewel Cave is the 3rd largest cave in the world. Experienced cavers are still exploring the cave and finding new rooms and passageways that no other person is known to have explored.

Calcite Crystals in Jewel CaveIn 2021, Jewel Cave National Monument is undergoing elevator maintenance to resolve chronic problems with the elevators. The elevators are expected to reopen in the late fall. When planning this trip, I didn’t think we would be able to visit Jewel Cave because of this maintenance, but for now, the park service is offering a modified tour. This tour involves walking down (and then back up) a steep hill and the park service describes it as “moderate to strenuous”.

I’m not sure if people were staying away from Jewel Cave because of the elevator repairs or if this park just isn’t as popular as Wind Cave because it doesn’t have the “National Park” designation. Either way, we arrived around 9:30 AM and there were only a handful of other people on the tour with us. It was a much more relaxed experience and even though we only go to see one room of the cave, I enjoyed this tour a lot more than Wind Cave. If you only have time to tour one cave in the Black Hills, I recommend Jewel Cave.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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