Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wild Animals & Wild West High Ways

The plan when we left Gillette was to spend one night in the Bighorn Mountains on the way to Cody. We stayed at Sitting Bull Campground on the west side of 9,666 foot Powder River Pass and were rewarded with a great stay.

Yes that is s**w on the top of the Bighorns. One of our goals as fulltimers is to NEVER be in s**w so we approached the mountain with a great deal of apprehension.
Here was our first reward. We were walking to the check-in booth to pay when this big moose walked into the campground. We were standing behind the trees but Nanc had to step out for a closer look. This big guy must be used to people as he just turned around and went back to eating leaves along the stream.

This was the view from our site. We hiked across the meadow into the mountains and got to see a small herd of elk. It is bow hunting season and they were spooked so the only picture I got was of elk butts as they ran into the trees.

The next morning we continued down the 18 mile decent through Ten Sleep Canyon. This was our first mountain driving in quite a while so we took it real slow. There were a couple of 25 mph switchbacks that we approached so slowly we did not need to use the brakes at all.

The view looking down the beautiful canyon. This is the "easiest" of the three roads that cross the Bighorns.

The land changed again when we came out of the canyon on the west side of the mountains. It was dry prairie but with many ranches and farms that use irrigation. We did hit one stretch of road construction with five miles of gravel. Oh well, I guess it was practice for driving to Alaska next summer.

We arrived at Green Creek Inn and RV Park in Wapiti (Cree for elk) and were rewarded with the sight of this big herd of elk. We have seen them twice in three days.

We hook up with 07 mates Rick & Terry Traver are staying in Cody and drive a mountain loop out of Cody. Here they are at 8048 feet at Dead Indian Pass on the Chief Joseph High Way. We all loved the fabulous vistas along the way.

These are Pilot and Index Peaks that dominate the skyline where the Chief Joseph meets the Beartooth High Way. Some of the views were a bit limited because of the smoke from nearby forest fires but it was still spectacular.

Now you see why I don't want to be in the s**w. Nanc just can't be trusted. There were many patches of the white stuff left from last winter in the high Alpine meadows near the top of 10,947 foot Beartooth Pass. This is the highest road in Wyoming.

Our biggest reward on the drive was a herd of mountain goats that moved across the rocks and ended up very near us in the parking lot.

There were a dozen goats including two young ones. A couple of them were being a little feisty. The one, top right, rushed another goat and kicked up some dust when he put on the brakes. Seeing this herd was truly the High Spot of the drive.

The east side of the Beartooth High Way has many switchbacks heading into Red Lodge, Montana. Even though this road is not recommended for vehicles over 40 feet because of all the turns, you can see that our GPS Ditsy Dotty says the speed limit is 65mph. Yea Right!!!

Looking up the valley you can see a few of these turns. Charles Kuralt, a long ago TV commentator, called this the most beautiful highway in America and we sure agree that it ranks right up there and is a drive worth taking.


Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Wow you drove the Chief Joesph and Beartooth Highways with your rig? IMpressive.

Jim and Bobbie said...

What a great blog post!!! The photo of NanC and the elk is wonderful.

Jim & Nanc said...

We drove the CRV not the motorhome over the Beartooth.