Tag Archives: Tower Falls

To Yellowstone and Beyond

17 Aug

Our last full day on the trip was a good one because went to my favorite place, Yellowstone National Park. We didn’t have time to go into the heart of the park and see the geysers. However, just entering its borders provided a feeling of being somewhere special.

We exited the interstate at Livingston, Montana, famous for being the filming location of A River Runs Through It. Livingston is a small town that can easily be turned into a scene from the early 2oth Century.

This church can be seen in the movie.

Before it became a movie locale, Livingston was known as the “Gateway to Yellowstone”, as travelers disembarked at its train station to take coaches into the park. Although, the north entrance has little traffic today, at one time this is how everyone entered Yellowstone. It’s ease and its history makes it my favorite way to go in.

The road out of Livingston follows the Yellowstone River through a valley filled with farms, ranches and vacation homes. We passed livestock and people fly fishing. As everyone took in the scenery, my mind drifted into the past. I was last in Yellowstone fourteen years ago. I had spent some time doing research in Butte and decided to spend my last weekend at the Old Faithful Lodge. It was a different time and place in my life, and I couldn’t help but think how much things have changed.

Finally, we made it to the gate that, at one time, everyone went through.

Gateway to Another Dimension – a Dimension of Natural Wonders

This led us to Mammoth Hot Springs, one of the park’s least appreciated wonders.

It looks better than it smells.

After walking the planks around the hot springs, we had lunch at the Roosevelt Lodge, where a Tennessee girl was our waitress. It was nourishment, but that’s about it. But, I needed it because I hiked with my nephews at Tower Falls. Going down was a lot easier than coming up. However, we got some good pictures.

Tower Falls

Proof that I hiked to the river.

We left the falls and drove toward the park’s exit and Cooke City. From the back seat, I said, “This is the first time I have ever been to Yellowstone and not seen buffalo.” Around the next bend, we saw buffalo, the best thing in the park, and my trip was complete. There is nothing that provides me with the feeling of the West like seeing these majestic creatures, the ones that were almost extinct.

There was once millions of buffalo throughout North America.

We stopped in Cooke City for a short break before driving on. We knew that there was a beautiful drive ahead, and I seemed to remember going that way on my previous trip. However, we were not prepared for what was about to happen. We went winding up and up until we reached an elevation of 11,000 feet. It’s one of the highest roads in the United States. As we went up, the air got colder and the sky got darker. Before we knew it, we were above the tree line, and it was snowing. Pictures can probably describe it better than I can.

That’s some cold water.

Only George Custer would have a national forest named after him that had no trees.

Remember, this is early August.

As my nephews played in the snow, my dad, my brother and I were wanting to get off this mountain as fast as possible. We finally did that and found ourselves in Billings, the city where the trip began. We even got the same hotel rooms that we had on the first night. After checking in, we ate at Jake’s, in downtown Billings, and talked about the past week.

We all had a great time and saw some great places. However, the best part of the journey was completing it together.