Monthly Archives: July 2015

July 31, 2015 Norris, Yellowstone N.P.

Our last day in the park was spent at Norris which is named after Philetus Norris, the second superintendent of Yellowstone National Park from 1877-1882.  He explored and recorded the area’s hydro-thermal features in detail which added greatly to the geographic knowledge of the park.

This entire geyser basin is the oldest, hottest and most dynamic geyser basin in the park and part of one of the world’s largest active volcanoes.  Many of the hot springs and fumeroles here have temperatures above 200 degrees.  Norris is near the intersection of three major faults which creates this dynamic geyser basin.  Every year new hot springs and geysers appear while others become dormant.IMG_0732
IMG_0737IMG_0766Steamboat Geyser located in Norris is the world’s tallest active geyser. Steamboat Geyser’s eruptions are very unpredictable with the last eruption occurring in September, 2014.  When it does erupt it can shoot water up to 300 feet in the air.  On the day we were there it was spewing plenty of steam with an occasional spurt of water.IMG_0762IMG_0779IMG_0784

We enjoyed walking on the boardwalks seeing the various geysers and hot springs.IMG_0735IMG_0739

The Ranger told us the only predictable geyser here was Vixen Geyser.  It erupts every twenty minutes or so and we only had to wait a few minutes before it put on quite a show for us.  Bill captured some before and after eruption pictures.IMG_0745IMG_0747IMG_0753IMG_0755

Also located in Norris is the Museum of the National Park Ranger.  We stopped by to visit this former Army outpost built in 1908.

While we are talking about geysers, mud pots, fumeroles and hot springs we will include a few pictures taken of Mud Volcano and Dragon’s Mouth we saw while exploring the Fishing Bridge area.IMG_0635IMG_0637IMG_0642IMG_0641

Our time in Yellowstone went by much too quickly.  We look forward to returning again someday.IMG_0629IMG_0626IMG_20150730_170753

July 30, 2015 Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone N.P.


IMG_0616With only two days left in Yellowstone we still had the northwest section of the park to explore.   one of those days we drove to Mammoth Hot Springs.  The road to Mammoth was undergoing extensive road work with signs warning of up to 30 minute delays.  We were lucky and only had about a fifteen minute delay going and no delay returning home.


Liberty Cap, named after the French tall cap

Mammoth Hot Springs has mineral laden hot water from deep within the Earth’s crust which finds its way to the surface and builds beautiful tiers of cascading, terraced stone.  Hot water and gases ascend through limestone deposits, sculpting the rock.  Once exposed to the air, calcium carbonate from the limestone is deposited as a rock called travertine.  These hot springs do not erupt but instead build these spectacular terraces.  The terrace sculpting has been going on for thousands of years as thousands of gallons of water well up and deposit large amounts of travertine, or limestone, daily and as quickly as three feet per year!

We walked along the Hot Springs Terraces Walk, a boardwalk which led us around the terraces and hot springs.IMG_0704IMG_0711IMG_0700

We then drove the Upper Terrace Drive, a road that gave us a perspective from atop the terraces.IMG_0724

IMG_20150729_120532Mammoth Hot Springs is where the Yellowstone park headquarters is located and it has a village of stores, gift shops, a Visitors Center and a couple restaurants.  In the early days of Yellowstone National Park’s existence the park was protected by the U.S. Army from 1886 to 1918. From what you might wonder. From people damaging the geothermal areas and other land and hunting the wildlife.  The original buildings of Fort Yellowstone such as the guardhouse, jail and soldiers’ barracks are preserved and still standing in Mammoth Springs today.


Fort Yellowstone is the red top buildings in the background

Here is a video showing the water flowing down the terrace:

While in the area we drove the short distance to the north entrance of the park where the Roosevelt Arch is located.  The beautiful arch was constructed under the supervision of the U.S. Army at Fort Yellowstone.  The cornerstone was laid by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903.  The top of the Arch is inscribed with a quote from the Organic Act of 1872, “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People”.IMG_0689IMG_0690

July 27, 2015 Canyon, Yellowstone N. P.

IMG_0657Our last four days in Yellowstone were scheduled to be dry camping at two campgrounds in the park.  But very unseasonably cold weather with nightly temperatures around 30 degrees and my being on medication for shingles convinced us we needed to look for some place else.  The only full hookup campground in the park was booked solid.  Bill found a national forest campground near the small town of West Yellowstone located right outside the west entrance of the park.  The campground had a small number of nonreservable electric sites available on a first come basis.  We got up really early and drove to the campground where we waited for someone to leave so we could grab an electric site.  By 10:00 AM we were all set up in our new site.

When the doctor gave me the pills for shingles she was five pills short and neither of the other two clinics in the park had pills for me.  She gave me a prescription so we headed into West Yellowstone to have the prescription filled.  Not much to say about West Yellowstone except it has a very nice Visitors Center with friendly helpful volunteers, a couple food markets, a few gas stations, one pharmacy, a McDonalds and several hotels, restaurants and gift shops.  Typical tourist town.

By the time we got back home a cold steady rain was falling and the temperatures were in the upper 40’s and falling.  I made some chili and we stayed inside where we were warm and very very thankful to have heat and electricity.  The next few nights the temperature dipped to near freezing.  This campground made for a bit longer drive back into the park to do activities, but it was well worth the extra drive.

IMG_0656Yellowstone National Park has geysers and wild animals and gorgeous scenery.  Would you believe on top of all that it also has a grand canyon?  I kid you not.  It is called The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River and it is a beauty!  The canyon is from a lava flow 484,000 years ago.  It is mainly made of rhyolite rock.  Past and current hydrothermal activity weakened and altered the rock, making it softer.  The Yellowstone River eroded these weakened rocks to deepen and widen the canyon, a process continuing today.  The canyon is 20 miles long, more than 1,000 feet deep, between 1,500 and 4,000 feet wide and has two beautiful waterfalls.IMG_20150730_130825IMG_0652


Lower Falls


Upper Falls

It took us several days of driving and walking quite a few trails to see the canyon and waterfalls.  One end of the canyon begins at the 308 foot tall Lower Falls which may have formed because the river flows over volcanic rock more resistant to erosion than rocks downstream.  The same is true for the 109 foot Upper Falls.IMG_0653IMG_0667IMG_0678IMG_20150730_130729


Brink of the Lower Falls

We walked trails that led us to the brink of both the Upper and Lower Falls.  The Upper Falls trail was easy but the Lower Falls trail involved a steep drop with thirteen switchbacks.  Going down was easy but coming back up was….well you can imagine.  Luckily it was a cool day with a nice breeze and they had benches along the trail to rest.  It was a great view and workout!  There is a viewpoint on the South Rim called Artists Point with gorgeous views of the Lower Falls and the canyon.  The weather was overcast while we were at Artist Point but Bill still got some great pictures.

The North Rim side of the canyon has a 1.2 mile drive with multiple stopping points along the way with amazing views of the canyon.

We took a longer hike on the South Rim Trail which led us along the canyon rim with views of the canyon and both falls.  At one point we came to a great view of the Upper Falls.  I love how there always seems to be a rainbow!  We stood at the overlook and enjoyed the view while talking with a family from Holland who was spending their summer touring the West in their rented RV.IMG_20150730_141027IMG_20150730_140810IMG_20150730_140128IMG_0654

Every day there seems to be more and more to love about this wonderful park.  What an amazing place!!

July 22, 2015 Fishing Bridge, Yellowstone N.P.

We made the hour drive from Grant Village to another campground in Yellowstone in an area called Fishing Bridge.  This is the only full hookup campground in Yellowstone.  By the time we arrived I had a bad headache and didn’t feel well.  Three days earlier I noticed four blister like places on my lower back.  It had the appearance of poison ivy or bug bites, and even though we couldn’t imagine how I got poison ivy or bites there, we didn’t pay them any attention.  After setting up, since the blisters hadn’t gone away and I was not feeling well, we decided to visit one of three medical clinics located in Yellowstone National Park.  Fortunately one of the clinics was a short drive from our campsite.  The diagnosis was shingles, certainly not what we wanted to hear and very surprising.  The doctor put me on 800 mg of Acyclovir five times a day for seven days.  The doctor said she thought it had been caught early but she had no idea whether I would have a full blown outbreak or if the medicine would lessen the severity of the shingles.  We were prepared if necessary to abandon our Yellowstone plans if the outbreak was severe and I needed to be in a town with doctors and stores with supplies.  As it turned out I was very blessed.  One more small blister appeared and that was it.  I was uncomfortable but it was tolerable.  I cannot imagine the agony someone with a full outbreak must endure.

The next day it rained and we stayed home resting and relaxing.  My mind played tricks on me and every time I had an itch I would run to Bill so he could check my back for a new blister.  And every time I felt great relief when he said nothing new was there.

IMG_20150725_142314This post will focus on the animals we saw during our time in Yellowstone.  Since my shingles was under control and I was feeling better, we decided to take a short hike to Natural Bridge.  The signs warned of bears and suggested walking in groups.  We had our trusty whistle, just in case.  Along the way we saw many places where bears had sharpened their claws and marked their territory on trees.

The hike to Natural Bridge was supposed to be short but we took a wrong turn and ended up on a longer trail that took us to the top of the bridge.  The trail became very steep with several switchbacks.  The trail had small gravel that feels like walking on marbles when descending.  I

hate those kinds of


Natural Bridge looking down to the trail below

IMG_20150725_140137trails!  Along the way we met a very nice IMG_20150725_140040couple visiting from England and we enjoyed chatting with them while we stopped to catch our breath.  An older lady was trying to make her way down the steepest part of the trail with walking sticks.  We stopped to wait for her to pass and she apologized for holding us up and commented that her walking sticks were not helping.  Since we have walking sticks, Bill asked if she would like him to show her a different way to hold and use them.  He showed her the correct way to hold them, and right away she could feel the difference and felt so much more confident walking on the trail.  She was so happy and as she walked past me she told me how wonderful my husband was for helping her.  Bill is an Eagle Scout and lives by their motto of “Do A Good Deed Every Day”.  We reached the top of the bridge and enjoyed the view, snapped some pictures and began the hard descent down.  When we reached the bottom we saw the shorter trail that led to the view of Natural Bridge from below.  Natural Bridge is a 51 foot cliff of rhyolite rock cut through by Bridge Creek.  In the end we were glad we took that harder trail because we met a nice couple from England and helped the lady with her walking sticks.  It was all good!

Rangers in the park refer to traffic jams by the animals that cause them.  So there are bison jams, bear jams, elk jams, moose jams etc.  Whenever you see traffic stopped or slow moving, it is most likely to be from an animal jam.IMG_0581

IMG_0583There are between 2,300 and 5,000 bison living in Yellowstone.   We got caught in a huge bison jam one day while heading to Hayden Valley which is known to have a lot of wildlife.  We passed through at the time of day a large number of bison were crossing the road to get to the river.  Traffic slowed to a halt or slow crawl as bison blocked the road or people gawked at the bison along the side of the road, everyone trying to get that perfect picture.  At one point we shut off the car engine and just waited.  No worries.  We had plenty of time and enjoyed watching all the bison around us.  Much later in the day we passed through the area again and most of the bison were gone.  One lone bison slowly sauntered down the middle of the road blocking our lane of traffic.  There was nothing to do but follow him and wait for him to move.  He was headed home after a long hard day entertaining crazy tourists.  We had about ten cars in front of us and traffic was piling up behind us.  One driver behind us blew his horn.  He was too far away for the bison to care and just annoyed others patiently waiting.  He is the kind of tourist who should never come to Yellowstone in July.  Eventually, when the bison was good and ready he left the road and wandered up the hillside and began grazing and we were once again on our way!  We have already posted lots of bison pictures in previous posts so we won’t post too many here.IMG_0572IMG_0573IMG_0579IMG_0585

IMG_0591We stopped at Tower Falls and while we were there a small bear walked across the patio area of the gift shop/general store.  A dog barked, scared it and it ran off into a grassy area.  The grass was so tall we could barely see him, not close enough to get a picture.  Later in the day we came upon a bear jam with a mother bear and her cub digging up and eating grubs along the side of the road.IMG_0617IMG_0624

A smaller pronghorn jam occurred later.  Pronghorn are similar to antelope.IMG_0598IMG_0599IMG_0602

We created our own bald eagle jam.  Bill spotted a bald eagle perched on a rock.  Another eagle circled overhead.  As cars noticed us stopped and Bill with his camera, more cars stopped and pulled over.  Before long we had an eagle jam!IMG_0603IMG_0613
During our time in Yellowstone we also saw elk, moose and even a beaver!


This beaver was shy!


Gibbon Falls


Gibbon River


July 20, 2015 Grant Village, Yellowstone N.P.

IMG_0648We made the short drive from Grand Teton to Yellowstone National Park along the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway.  We were so excited.  Yellowstone was the much anticipated highlight of our summer plans.  Established in 1872, Yellowstone is the world’s first national park.  Of the 2.2 million acres, 80% is forest, 15% is grassland and 5% is water.  Ninety-six percent of the park is in Wyoming with 3% in Montana and 1% in Idaho.

Yellowstone is HUGE with:

  • five entrances into the park
  • ten visitor or information centers
  • three medical clinics
  • six gas stations
  • seven general stores
  • five hotels or lodges
  • twelve campgrounds
  • and numerous restaurants and gift shops

We had camping reservations at several campgrounds throughout the park which we had to make a year in advance.  To say it is a popular tourist destination is an understatement!  Our first reservation was at Grant Campground and we were lucky to be given a site overlooking West Thumb Lake which is connected to Yellowstone Lake.  This is the largest lake in Yellowstone National Park and is beautiful.IMG_0569IMG_0480IMG_0451

Our time in this area of southern Yellowstone centered around what may be the most famous part of Yellowstone, its geysers.

IMG_0494IMG_0568Our first stop of course was to see Old Faithful.  We got up extra early to get a head start on the mobs of tourists.  Each year over three million people visit this park.  Yellowstone is very crowded in July so it is best not to come unless you have plenty of time AND patience.  Old Faithful is the most famous attraction in Yellowstone, so named because it faithfully erupts about every 60 to 90 minutes, spewing 8,400 gallons of steaming hot water up to 180 feet into the air.  It is one of the most predictable geysers on earth.  There are benches around the base of Old Faithful where crowds gather to sit, wait and watch the eruption.  The Visitors Center has a list of several geysers and the times they are predicted to erupt so you know what time to head to each area to watch the eruptions.  The time of some, like Old Faithful, can be easily predicted within ten minutes.  Others can be predicted plus or minus 90 minutes while others are very unpredictable.IMG_0487

Yellowstone is home to more geysers than any other place on earth and is one of the world’s most active geothermal areas.  Within the park are hundreds of geysers, hot springs, mud pots and steam vents.  This is because the park sits atop an enormous “supervolcano” and the immense heat from the underground magma powers the geysers.  The volcano last erupted 640,000 years ago and shows no signs of erupting anytime soon. Water from precipitation seeps into the ground, meeting the superheated earth near the underground magma chamber.  Tremendous pressure builds up until the water is forced back to the surface.  Some geysers like Old Faithful have their own underground “plumbing systems” and erupt at predictable intervals.  Other geysers share plumbing “pipes” with adjacent geysers and erupt more sporadically.

We drove around the West Thumb and Upper Geyser Basins with a variety of geysers, hot springs and bubbling mudpots.  There are more than 150 spouters within a square mile area just in the Upper Geyser Basin alone.  The boardwalk led us around to areas such as the Fishing Cone where years ago fishermen could fish in the lake and then swing around and place the fish in the boiling water of the Fishing Cone to be cooked.  This is no longer allowed.  We saw the colored Paint Pots and the deep blue Abyss Pool.IMG_0463IMG_0462IMG_0454

In the Lower Geyser Basin we drove the Firehole Lake Drive and saw the beautiful multi colored Fountain Paint Pots.IMG_0546IMG_0526

We drove by the White Dome Geyser and as we pulled into the small parking lot a lady leaned out of her car window and told Bill the geyser would go off in about twenty minutes.  Bill spread the word and a small crowd gathered on the boardwalk.  As twenty minutes passed with no eruption we began to wonder if the lady had been mistaken.  Suddenly the geyser erupted, spraying us with cool water.  We were surprised since we expected the water to be warm.  It was a really nice eruption to see and we were really glad we had waited.IMG_0495IMG_0515

The Midway Geyser Basin is known as Hell’s Half Acre where the basin’s hot water gushes into the Firehole River.  The Grand Prismatic Spring is located here, which at 370 feet across and 125 feet deep is the largest hot spring in the United States.  The many colors come from light refraction, mineral particles and heat loving microorganisms called thermophiles.  Hot springs IMG_0547IMG_0555IMG_0556IMG_0565IMG_0560are similar to geysers except they do not have the constrictions in their “plumbing” so water does not reach the temperature needed to set off an eruption.  Around all the thermal areas are really nice boardwalks.  The ground around the boardwalks is very unstable and in many cases consists of bubbling hot water which can exceed a surface boiling point of 199 degrees F. as well as steaming mudpots.  Some of the boardwalks could be crowded and at times I was uneasy as tourists were busy looking instead of watching where they were going.  I sure didn’t want to be knocked off one of those boardwalks!  Most annoying were the tourists walking around with umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun.  Haven’t they heard of hats and sunscreen?  This is what happens to tourists who don’t heed the warnings to stay on the boardwalk.  They disappear and are never seen again!IMG_0554IMG_0529IMG_0567IMG_0501IMG_0500

We also enjoyed seeing bubbling mudpots and steaming fumeroles.  Mudpots occur in places where microorganisms help convert hydrogen sulfide into sulfuric acid which dissolves surrounding rock into clay.  The clay mixes with rising steam and groundwater to form mud of different colors and consistency.IMG_0536

Fumeroles is a vent in the Earth’s crust.  Groundwater comes in contact with hot rocks underground and turns to steam.  The steam rushes up through cracks and fissures and out the vent, sometimes with enough force to create a loud hiss or roar.

here are two videos ;

It seems everywhere we drove in Yellowstone had steam rising, constantly amazing us.

July 16, 2015 Grand Teton National Park

IMG_20150716_121505We made the short drive from Jackson Hole to Grand Teton National Park, a 485 square mile park with breathtaking views of the Teton Mountain Range.  The highest peak, Grand Teton, is 13,770 feet above sea level and the second highest peak in Wyoming.  Thousands of people climb the summit every year.IMG_20150720_103816IMG_0415

The Tetons are a young mountain range.  Ten million years ago the peaks began to rise along the Teton fault line, known as a fault block.  Tons and tons of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rock vaulted up and forward while the valley known today as Jackson Hole sank and continues to sink.  This created the many pinnacles which were sculptured by glaciers into the Teton Range we see today.

Grand Teton National Park was created in 1929, one third of the size it is today.  Through land donated by John D Rockefeller, Jr. in 1950 and the addition of Jackson Hole National Monument, the park grew to its current size.IMG_0411IMG_0413

We had reservations at a campground in the park run by a concessionaire, Xanterra Parks and Resorts (they manage campgrounds and lodges at most of the largest parks).  We had a nice full hookup site amid pine trees.  The only problem was the trees were so thick, and even though we tried moving the RV forward and backward, we were unable to get any satellite TV.

We drove the 43 mile scenic loop drive, stopping near the Jackson Lake Dam.   In 1999 Bill and his son Sean visited Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.   Bill has a picture Sean took of him with a beautiful view of the Tetons.  He really wanted to recreate the picture and we were able to find the same location for a 2015 picture!BillSelphJacksonLakeIMG_0443

A steep drive on the Signal Mountain Summit Road took us to the top of Signal Mountain with views of the Jackson Hole valley 800 feet below.  Along the way we spotted a black bear partially hidden in the heavy foliage.IMG_0373

Besides seeing bison, we were on a moose hunt.  We were determined to see a moose!  We drove on  Antelope Flats Road and stopped at an overlook known for wildlife.  Hidden deep in the grass in the distance was a mother and baby moose.  It wasn’t easy but Bill managed to snap a picture.  We decided that would have to be our one moose find of the day.  As we headed home we approached a bridge and noticed a traffic jam with cars pulling over on both sides of the road and people running toward the bridge.  It could only mean one thing, a wildlife sighting!  We squeezed in among the other cars and walked to the bridge.  One large male moose was on the edge of the water and ambled down for a drink.  All that excitement for ONE moose!  But of course we had to join in the fun! Male moose have “antlers” like deer.  Unlike horns, antlers fall off and the animals regrow them each year.IMG_0392IMG_0402IMG_0409

The Jenny Lake Scenic Drive took us to Jenny Lake with fabulous views of Jenny Lake and the Tetons.  We took a nice walk down to see the lake.  We also visited historic Jackson Lake Lodge with 60 foot windows overlooking the Teton Mountain Range.

We loved the Grand Tetons and will definitely be back!

July 12, 2015 Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Welcome to our 200th travel blog post!!

IMG_20150711_155841We left Shoshone National Forest and made the steep climb over the Togwotee Pass, crossing the Continental Divide westward.  Our excitement grew as our first glimpse of the Grand Tetons came into view.  We passed a large 24,700 acre national elk refuge where 7,500 elk live.  Each spring Boy Scouts gather up antlers in the refuge which are then sold at an auction in Jackson.  Half of the proceeds go to the Boy Scouts and the other half is used by the town to provide food for the elk during the long cold winter.IMG_20150712_140426IMG_20150712_135743IMG_20150712_134540

Our destination was Jackson, Wyoming.  It was known as Jackson Hole until the modern zip code system forced the name be changed to Jackson.  Our campground was located outside of Jackson in Wilson.  There are not many campgrounds in the Jackson Hole area and most are located outside of town and ridiculously high priced.  The campsites are very close together, reminding us of why we love to camp in state and national parks and forests.

Jackson Hole gets its name from fur trapper Davey Jackson, one of many fur trappers and mountain men who inhabited the area in the 1800’s.  The town itself was established in 1894.

Occasionally tourists come to Jackson Hole and want to know where the “hole” is.  There is no hole, it is called Jackson Hole because it is located in a valley bordered by mountain ranges.  The town is actually forty eight miles long and eight to fifteen miles wide with the Snake River meandering through the town.  Since 97% of the surrounding Teton County is public land, real estate and housing costs there are very high.  The main industry is tourism, with two thirds occurring during the summer season and one third during the winter ski season.

Jackson Hole has a lot of businesses crammed into a small area.  Traffic is heavy and you have to be very careful not to hit one of the many tourists flooding the streets and sidewalks.

One place of interest was Jackson Square, a park where they have an entryway of elk antlers at each of the four corners.  People were enjoying the cool shade and a band of some sort was playing one day when we drove by.IMG_20150715_152210IMG_20150715_152237

While in Jackson Hole we wanted to go whitewater rafting on the Snake River.  The rafting company picked us up at our campground at 6:15 AM and it was 44 degrees.  Remember, this is July in Wyoming!  We joined a high school math teacher, her husband from Fort Worth, Texas and two families from San Jose, California then boarded a bus down to the river.  Everyone was very friendly and we certainly did have a great time getting to know them.  The first eight miles of the trip was a calm, scenic float down the Snake River where we saw several bald eagles and ospreys.  We then got out of the raft and stretched our legs and had a snack.  The next eight miles of the trip was the exciting whitewater part of the trip as we traveled through many rapids.  The first rapid sent two huge waves of ice cold water over the raft, soaking all of us.  My teeth were chattering!  There were many more times when the freezing water washed over us.  After the trip they provided us with a bagged lunch which we enjoyed while continuing to visit with our new friends before the bus trip back to the campground.  We had a great time!  The only thing that would have made it better would have been temperatures about twenty degrees warmer.  Of course they had a company who takes pictures as you go through one of the larger rapids.  The pictures are pricey but we did splurge and purchase two.IMG_0684IMG_0686

I would like to end on a personal note.  While in Jackson Hole I received word of the passing of my Uncle Arnold.  He was like a father to me and his two sons are like my brothers.  Arnold married my mother’s sister the year I was born, so I have known him my entire life.  We had planned to see him in April 2016 when we pass through Virginia, but God had a better plan for him.  One of the hard things about the full time Rving lifestyle is we are not nearby our family and friends.  It was very hard for me to miss his funeral, but I know I did not have to be present at his funeral for him to know how much he meant to me and how much I love him. -Diane

July 10, 2015 Thermopolis, Wyoming

We stopped in Thermopolis because of the hot springs located there which are advertised as the largest mineral hot springs in the world.  The name Thermopolis comes from the Greek words for hot and cities.  Located at the foot of Owl Creek Mountain and beside the Big Horn River it was once part of the Wind River Indian Reservation.  The town was founded in 1897 and attracted outlaws such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  Today it has a population of around 3,200 and tourists who come for the healing powers of the hot springs.

Hot Springs State Park was purchased from the Arapaho and Shoshone tribes in 1876  for $60,000 as part of a treaty with the provision it remain accessible free of charge to the public.  Native Americans believe the mineral water has therapeutic powers.  Today the park and public bath house are free of charge and it is the most visited state park in Wyoming.
The mineral rich hot water creates colorful geological formations which has occurred over millions of years forming beautiful rainbow terraces.  The hot springs are naturally colored and formed by mineral deposits.  They look like waterfalls and form a 125 degree F lake. The Big Spring in the park has more than 3.6 million gallons of 127 degree F water flow over colorful terraces every day.  The water contains at least 27 different minerals.  Most of the water is IMG_20150710_122608IMG_20150710_122914thought to come underground from the Owl Creek Mountains through the Big Spring.  Rain enters porous rock layers, moves slowly downward and is forced to the surface through crevices in the rock.  The heat and chemicals in the water come from the rock through which it passes and from gases that rise from deeply buried volcanic rocks.  Some geologists think the underground formation that supplies the spring is the same that provides Yellowstone National Park its famous hot waters.IMG_20150710_123625

20150710_114837From the Big Spring the water flows into cooling ponds and runs into swimming pools, jacuzzis and the Big Horn River.  The State Bath House water is 104 degrees F and they have an employee check the water temperature often.  You are limited to 20 minutes in the water.  The pools are filled with 100% mineral water; no chemicals or municipal water is used.  There is an indoor and an outdoor pool and they are both cleaned every 48 hours.  I could not get past the strong sulfur smell of the water and was happy to wait while Bill enjoyed the water.  It took a couple showers to get the sulphur smell out of his skin!

There is a very small bison herd of around eleven buffalo in the park.  We drove around trying to see them but they were hiding.

We stayed one night in Thermopolis and drove towards Jackson Hole.  We drove through the Wind River Indian Reservation through beautiful Wind River Canyon with 2,500 foot walls of rock.  There are informative signs along the route describing the geologic history of over a billion years of geology.

Along the way we continued to enjoy the views of the Wind River Canyon as we followed the Wind River to where it flows into the Big Horn River.  When early explorers came across the river from opposite directions they each named the river.  One named it Wind River and the other named it Big Horn River.  The river changes names just south of Thermopolis.IMG_20150710_144618IMG_20150710_144946IMG_20150710_145050IMG_20150710_145244IMG_20150710_145441IMG_20150710_145455

We  stayed overnight in Riverton at the Wind River Casino.  They allow free overnight parking in their parking lot and even have a few electric (15 AMP) hookups which we were lucky to use.  We went inside the casino and both signed up for a players card which gave us each $10.00 to use at the slot machines.  We had fun playing the machines and ended up winning $8.00 between us.  We had dinner at one of the restaurants in the casino.  We were amazed at how quiet the parking lot was and woke the next morning refreshed and ready to hit the road.

Our next overnight stop was at a national forest campground in Shoshone National Forest. On our route we saw ranches and homes built right up against the canyon walls.  IMG_20150711_134932IMG_20150711_135928IMG_20150711_141212IMG_20150711_141247IMG_20150711_141342We had a nice campsite in the forest with electric only.  For the first time in quite awhile we had absolutely no cell phone service which usually would not have been a problem but we had a family member we needed to check on.  We enjoyed camping in the forest and smelling the pine trees.  IMG_20150711_152105IMG_20150711_161029It has been awhile since we had camped in the forest.  The next day we will finish our drive to Jackson Hole.

July 8, 2015 Buffalo Bill Center – Cody WY

IMG_20150707_172649Cody has a wonderful museum called the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.  It is actually five museums all under one roof on over seven acres.  You could easily spend an entire day there seeing the Buffalo Bill Museum, the Draper Natural History Museum, the Cody Firearms Museum, the Plains Indian Museum, and the Whitney Western Art Museum.IMG_0308


North African Miquelet Jezail given to Jefferson in 1805 This gift influenced the inclusion of the lyrics “to the shores of Tripoli” in the Marine’s Hymn

Bill loved visiting the Cody Firearms Museum which has one of the largest firearms collections in the world.  They had firearms on loan from the Smithsonian as well.  They had firearms Bill had never seen.  IMG_0320I especially enjoyed seeing a musket once owned by Thomas Jefferson as well as a gun owned by Annie Oakley and several former U.S. Presidents.  I loved seeing the guns IMG_0310IMG_0311IMG_0312IMG_0309IMG_0313IMG_0316used on the TV set by Ben Cartwright and his sons on Bonanza as well as the Lone Ranger. Some interesting people in the development of firearms:

  • Oliver F. Winchester was a successful shirt manufacturer established Winchester Repeating Arms Company in 1866
  • John M. Browning (1855 – 1926)
    • was the most ingenious and prolific arms designer America has produced
    • his designs were manufactured under patent assignment by noted firms like Winchester, Colt and Remington
    • from 1884 to 1901 he worked for Winchester and sold all his patents to them
    • he designed the Colt Model 1911, “Army .45”

We also spent a lot of time in the Buffalo Bill Museum which had many exhibits about the life of Buffalo Bill, including movie footage of one of his Wild West shows.  He took his Wild West shows to England and Europe, once performing for Queen Victoria.IMG_0329IMG_0315

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is often called the Smithsonian of the West and we could see why!


Crazy Horse



We really enjoyed our short time in Cody.  There were things we didn’t have time to see and added Cody to our list of places we would like to return to someday.