Wednesday, June 25, 2014

US Hwy 191: Yellowstone Express

I've been to Yellowstone National Park before and didn't really care for it, so my only purpose in passing through was to follow the route of US191 across its southwest corner as fast as possible.

The moment I arrived at the south entrance, I pretty much knew what my drive was going to be like. From there, the road is a long, narrow, uphill slog with lots of blind corners and cyclists to deal with.

The main reason I don't particularly like Yellowstone is that it just isn't that pretty. Because of its altitude, it's mostly scrub pines, bare rock and a few lakes. There are so many other, lesser known and visited areas that are just so much prettier in my book. Looking at the quantity of vehicles on the road, in every turn out and marginal parking spot, I'm obviously in the minority opinion on that score.

One amusing factor, however, is that because of how the road is laid out, it crosses the continental divide three times over the course of just a couple of miles. I grabbed shots of two signs, but missed the third because my hands were busy with the wheel to avoid a collision. The traffic was crazy.

The most famous of Yellowstone's features has got to be Old Faithful, for which -- in the photo below left -- the sign says to keep right. I took the left lane and viewed a few of the caldera's many other geothermal areas in passing. I kept saying to myself, "Don't stop when you're on a roll!"

From there, the road follows the Firehole River downhill, eventually exiting the park at its western edge. The total road distance between the south and west entrances is about 70 miles. I drove it in just about two hours, which is a pretty impressive "express" pace considering the conditions. Upon reflection, I think it's quite possible that I have logged the shortest visit ever to Yellowstone Park!

I'm now camped in a lovely valley just west of the park. I plan to stay here for a couple of days to relax and enjoy the beautiful Montana landscape and skies... Stay tuned!

Click here to see exactly where I am posting this from on Google Maps.

No comments: