Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton
We touched down in Missoula where a cloud of smoke was choking the city due to recent raging wildfires.
Glacier National Park
After driving to whitefish we heard that the west side of Glacier National Park was shut down. We drove the long way around, keeping east of the fires. "Two Medicine" entrance was our first stop, taking the time to walk around the lake surrounded by stunning Glacier Peaks.
On the way to the St Mary's entrance we scramblled down an embankment to get a better look at Goose Island. We hiked to the top of Logan's pass at 6,600, a strenuous hike that links the west and east side of the park, but sadly "going to the sun" road was closed.
The next day we arrived early at the Many Glacier Hotel, an impressive structure built in the early 1900's. We had booked the 11am Grinnell lake tour. Two Moose were leisurely grazing by the bank of the swiftwater lake, as we took the first short boat ride. We hiked to the lake and were rewarded with an amazing view of the lake, a waterfall and the glacier peak. While waiting for the boat to take us back, a huge moose came out of the brush, while everyone scrambled for their phones as he took off to chase one of the tourists.
On Wed, we drove down to Bozeman - walking to the museum of the rockies, enjoying the historic neighborhood, the food, and a night at the LARK.
Yellowstone National Park
Thursday we set off early to drive into the north gate of Yellowstone, still hazy and warm when we hit the Roosevelt Arch. Thr first wildlife sighting was a lone bison on the bluff, which we stayed and watched for an hour, only to be rewarded half a mile around the nexy bend with hundreds of bison sprawled across the road. We spent a big portion of time watching the same herd, noting who was the leader, and how they interacted with each other and us.
We got up super early the next day to go to Lamar valley to the recommended bears and wolves, viweing spot, but we came up empty. We actually had our best black bear sighting on the Washburn Mountain trail, in the upper east section of the park.
We spent quite a bit of time on the upper rim trail, on the canyon bridge, near the falls.
We also got to old faithful within 10min of her going off, giving ourselves time to tour the Old Faithful Inn before moving on.
The last day in Yellowstone was spent driving around the lake, and exploring the east entrance, which was hit hard by fire, but offered spectacular views of the lake and surrounding peaks.
We then set off to Grand Teton, stopping off at Jenny lake, hiking the two mile loop to String Lake, catching views of the tetons, crossing a wood bridge lined with huckleberries.
Grand Teton National Park
Then we headed to see Mormon Row, just outside the park, a preserved community set against the big sky and tremendous mountains as a backdrop.
On the way to Jackson hole, we took a small road from Moose, offroading most of the way to come upon cars and people mid-way, phones in hand, snapping away at two black bears in the trees.
Jackson hole was a charming ski town, and Jackson city center definitely had lots of perosnality from the four elk horn arches surrounding the town Square to the million dollar cowboy bar neon sign.
Out last adventure was a well timed stop in Deer Lodge to see the historicsl Montana State Prison, a tremendously entertaining museum that gave us access to the main jailhouse, the women's prison, the main dining area as well as the theater. Super eerie, since we were the only ones there and it was approaching dusk. They had an amazing collection of vintage cars and a ghost town exhibit across the street. And after a last cone of huckleberry ice cream at the "Prison Cow" we were ready to go home.