A Motorcycle and Camping Trip in Yellowstone National Park
We left the bench of the spot of Old Faithful. The eruption had now calmed to a mere fizzle once again. It was hard to imagine that this eruption happened like clockwork every single day! Off we went, headed around the East side of the Lower Loop of Yellowstone National Park. The curves of the road and the scenery were fantastic! We actually arrived at a place where people could go swimming in a deep part of the river, warmed by the thermal energy of the surrounding Geysers. I sure wished we would have brought our swimming gear, but it was back at the campsite. We passed another waterfall along the way and had to stop to get a better look. Some of the other scenery was just too good to put into words.
After a day of riding through Yellowstone, and a little picture taking, we were ready to head back to camp. We stopped at the store near our campsite for a few more supplies and a couple of souvenirs. We wanted to send a couple of souvenirs home, because we know we wouldn’t have room to carry them on the motorcycles, so we stopped by the small post office that was just around the corner from the store. We mailed our goods, and then rode back to camp.
We woke again to welcome sunshine. Grabbed a bite to eat for breakfast, and saddled up for the days ride. Today, were going to ride the north loop of Yellowstone National Park. We had seen several animals so far, from Deer, to Elk, but what we really wanted to see were Grizzly Bear. The scenery was certainly different riding the north loop than it was on the southern loop. There were not near as many Geysers visible near the road. The elevation was higher, and the curves and hills more pronounced. We followed along the river for quite a ways. The river was very beautiful – especially when it was so far below us!
We noticed a sign pointing us toward a petrified tree. Neither of us had ever seen a petrified tree. I am sure that there are plenty of them in the Painted Desert, but that was a long way away, so we decided to go check it out. We arrived, and were able to get up pretty close to the Petrified tree. It was amazing!. Looking at the map, we noticed that there was a backroad that made a small loop ‘behind’ the main road. We though it looked like an interesting ride for the motorcycles (maybe not like Fall River road in the Rocky Mountain National Park), but interesting none the less.
We took the backroad loop, and I am sure glad that we did. Even though the road was narrow and a little rough in some places, the trip was worth it. We actually got the chance to see a wolf walking right beside us along the road!. We confirmed it was a wolf with one of the rangers back at the store near our campsite later that night. At first, I thought it was a Coyote, but he said it couldn’t be because it was marked, and they don’t mark the Coyotes, only the Wolves. We made it back out onto the main road and continued our journey of the north loop.
Back onto the main road we spilled with our trusty rides. We had accumulated a little dust on our detour, but seeing the Wolf out there in the wilderness of Yellowstone National Park was worth the little bit of dust. We saw another waterfall – there were so many of them here! Up around the curves we rode – taking in all of the beauty of this awesome place. One of the roads was literally ‘built’ along the side of one of the mountains. You sure wouldn’t want to ride off the edge of that one!!.
Coming around another curve, we noticed a few vehicles stopped along the road. Something must be there, we thought. We pulled the bikes over to the side of the road, grabbed the camera, and went over to see what people were stopping for. There they were, up along the hillside – some female Moose!! Wow, now we had seen Elk, Buffalo, a Wolf and Moose too. We didn’t see any with antlers, but I was just happy to get the chance to see them in the wild.
In order to complete the north loop and make our way toward our campsite, we actually rode back out the West Entrance are of the park. I am so glad we decided to take that route! As we rode back eastbound to finish off the rest of the Northern loop, a small Grizzly bear strolled across the road just ahead of us! We both slammed on the brakes as quickly and safely as possible. We edged over to the side of the road and parked the motorcycles. I am sure glad they are not any wider than they are, or we would have been blocking traffic for sure. I fished for the camera, trying to get it out of its pouch quickly, get the bike turned off and make sure the kickstand was down. He was already across the road and heading into a small patch of woods. My adrenaline was rushing in so quickly that it was hard to get the camera out, get the bike parked and get off of it. I wanted to get as close as possible and get a few pictures.
We finally got the motorcycles stopped along the side of the road, got the kickstands down, and I was even able to get the camera out of its bag and ready to take a few shots. The Grizzly had already made it across the road and was moving into some trees. Luckily, there was a path leading toward a small rock quarry that we were able to follow in an attempt to catch up with the bear. I missed him on the first couple of shots, but finally captured him as he was passing between a couple of trees. By the time we were able to get the picture, there were a whole bunch of other people around us all trying to get pictures as well.
The bear crossed into the Quarry area, and dipped over a small hill on the other side and finally out of view. Unbelievable! To be able to get that close to a Grizzly bear and even get a few pictures of it! The excitement was overwhelming. We walked back toward the motorcycles along with several other people all making their way back to their vehicles. Once back to the bikes, we though to ourselves “”what if momma was around””? Of course it probably would have been smarter to have thought about that before we decided to ‘chase’ down a small Grizzly Bear! If momma HAD been in the area, I am sure that she would not be happy about us getting that close to her baby.
We left the area and headed onward to see some more of Yellowstone National Park. We passed by a stream that was very beautiful. The water formed a small cascade that rippled downward to a small ledge in the stream and fell off as if it was diving into the welcoming water below. We circled around some more, and up ahead there were a number of vehicles stopped along the roadway. The Park Rangers were also stopped there. Cameras were everywhere. The Rangers were directing traffic. Something was definitely going on, but we didn’t have any idea what.
We pulled out motorcycle over to the side along with several other vehicles. We couldn’t see anything yet, but put down the kickstand, got off the bikes and grabbed the camera just in case. A park ranger was not far away, and began to walk over toward us and our motorcycles. We didn’t know if he wanted to talk to us or someone else in the crowd. He approached us and said “”You guys are going to have to go on up ahead – you can’t park your motorcycles here.”” We started to ask why, but then we suddenly saw the reason. There was a large Grizzly bear just a little way down into the valley – along with two baby Grizzly cubs, and they were coming toward the road we were parked on, up the hill out of the valley.
He didn’t have to tell us twice! We mounted the bikes, cranked them up and rolled slowly down the road just a bit an around another curve. There were several other people stopped here too, so with cameras with huge zoom lenses. We parked again and got our own camera in order to get a couple of shots of the Grizzlies. We were able to get a couple, but the zoom on my camera didn’t reach very far. I Got one fairly good one as she was just about to go over the hill on the other side of the road we were just on.
What an unbelievable day! We had seen many of the animals we had hoped for on this journey. It was getting late, so we decided to head back to camp. We had spent three wonderful days in Yellowstone National Park, and tomorrow, we planned to take of headed eastward. I had not reserved a camp site along the northern part of Wyoming, so we were going to have to play it by ear. Our main destination was to stop at the Devils Tower on our way to the Bike Rally at Sturgis South Dakota.