Back in July, we went to Bozeman and Three Forks, Montana. From here we wanted to drive Beartooth Byway and checkout Red Lodge, Montana. Now, from where we were (in the Bozeman and Three Forks area), the fastest way to get there was to go south at Livingston and dip into Wyoming. In doing so, wouldn’t you know it, we popped up at the northwestern entrance of Yellowstone National Park!
It wasn’t on our agenda because we planned on visiting the park much further south so we could see Old Faithful, but it was the most direct route so into Yellowstone we went. Side note – we will be visiting the park again. We have to see Old Faithful.
We entered Yellowstone from Gardiner, Montana. This a grand entrance with a stone archway. One of the signs says that Yellowstone was the first national park in the world. Can you imagine that? As we continued on we came to where you had to pay, unless you have a National Park Pass; which we had with us. If you plan on visiting a lot of national parks, it makes sense because it is like $80 for the year as opposed to $15 to $30 per park per time.
Following past the payment point there was a sign that says, “Animals Are Dangerous. Never Approach Or Feed.” And it also tells you about fire danger in case you smoke or plan on starting a camp fire. After this sign, you are off into the park. We had not even gone a mile before we saw a prong horn. We were anxious to get to the Lamar River Valley where we were told that you could possibly see wolves. Ethan, our Middle Nomad Son, is fond of wolves.
If you look on a map, we went from North Entrance Road to Grand Loop Road heading east. At Tower Junction, we continued eastbound on Northeast Entrance Road. This is the road that will lead you out of the park and where Beartooth Byway begins. The map below shows you the route we took. And I circled the Lamar Valley as well. If you want your own printable map, you can get one here for the whole park.
After seeing the prong horn, we continued on but the animals were scarce. We came across a nice waterfall, which we pulled over to take a look at and enjoy. There are a couple of them along the way. We came to Tower Junction, where you will find the Roosevelt Lodge and some other amenities. We did not stop because we wanted to get to the Lamar Valley.
After leaving Tower Junction we saw lots and lots of scenery, but no animals. That was until I spotted one buffalo way off in the distance. So I pulled over and zoomed in to take its picture. I was afraid we would not see any more as our luck of spotting animals was not favorable. He meandered down the hill and stopped off to take a dust bath (he wallowed around in the dirt). It wasn’t too long before I realized that he was actually headed our way. I grabbed all of the Nomads and told them to get back in Ebony (including me). We sat in Ebony as this huge buffalo walked right in front of us about 10 feet from our bumper! Wow was that amazing!
Completely happy with out buffalo experience, we were content and resigned to the fact that perhaps all of the animals were hanging out somewhere else. So we got into Ebony and headed on down the road. In less than a mile I saw a wave of brown coming down the hillside and dust being kicked up in the air. It was a stampede of a few hundred buffalo! We came over a hill and they were everywhere…on all sides of the road…buffalo for as far as the eye could see. One Nomad made the comment, “I wonder why the first buffalo we saw was alone?” I said, “He probably wanted some privacy!”
From that point and for the rest of the Lamar Valley, we saw buffalo everywhere. At times we would see deer or prong horn, but mostly buffalo. Sadly no wolves came out to put on a show and the bears were probably napping. But, we were able to enjoy seeing some of Yellowstone’s wildlife as well as all of its natural beauty. This is a National Park you should visit. And, if you do, you should allow yourself a few days to explore it fully. Mark my words, we will be back within a few months. Safe Travels.