Thursday, August 4— Gardiner, MT to Jackson, WY
As Lisa reminded me, it’s much better to visit Yellowstone National Park in the Spring or Fall when summer vacations and holidays are over, school is in session, and the park is relatively quiet. The wildlife are evermore in view, and, with fewer people around, seemingly in a more “natural” habitat. I decided to head out a little early in hopes of beating the crowds. My first stop was just inside the park at Mammoth Hot Springs. It is an amazing, geological display of hot springs, pools, and flows. I was able to move around fairly quickly and freely. By the time I left, around 10:00 am, it was swarming with people speaking any number of languages from their home country.
From there I headed south on highway 89, a route I’d never travelled before, in spite of warning about road construction along the way. There is a massive road-widening project going on that was a bit of a nuisance for me, but will make the park much easier to travel for others in the future. I headed east towards the Canyon Visitor Center on Norris Canyon Rd. I passed a sign to Virginia Cascade Rd on the Gibbon River, thought for a moment, got to where this one-way road exits back onto Norris Canyon Rd, then made a U-turn to go back and take this narrow route. I’m not sure the cascade itself is all that spectacular, but the ride along the road and view surely is.
I thought I would skip the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone since I’ve been there several times before. Some unknown force pulled my Harley into the turn-off for the north rim, and I found myself exploring it once again. It is really a beautiful place, with very different views from the north and south of the canyon.
A couple of times on this trip I ran across an old van or SUV on the side of the road, with a man or a couple sitting in camping chairs resting and enjoying the views. I’ll have to remember to pack those chairs the next times Lisa and I take a road trip. Don’t be in a big hurry, and stop and take it all in…
Years ago I used to visit Jackson, WY, once or twice a year on a sales training trip. We seemed to always schedule these trainings in the off-season, so many of the attractions were closed. Jackson Lodge on the north end of Grand Teton National Park is one of those places. So I made sure to stop and have lunch on the deck facing Jackson Lake and Teton Range. After lunch I rode though the park on my way to Jackson, stopping to take in Jenny Lake on a gorgeous day.
When I arrived at the motel, I noticed I got a little extra exposure and sunburn from riding through Yellowstone sans helmet. The traffic was slow and the weather too good not to enjoy this freedom in a state that doesn’t require motorcyclists to wear helmets. After getting a haircut at Teton Barbers and washing my Harley in the parking lot of Angler’s Inn, I had dinner at an old standby, the Million Dollar Cowboy Steakhouse in the town square. After dinner I anticipated meeting up with Lisa and seeing some old friends in Idaho Falls.
Route: H89, Norris Canyon Road, Grand Loop Road, H20, H191, Teton Park Road, H89
Miles Today: 170
Time Today: 7:25
Total Trip Miles: 3,929
Lunch: Jackson Lodge
Lodging: Angler’s Inn
Dinner: Million Dollar Cowboy Steakhouse