Saturday, October 2, 2021

Yellowstone Trip Day 7

 Monday Sept. 13

Today was an extremely long day in the car - much longer than I had anticipated. It started out great but by the end of the day I was frustrated and had a total meltdown but more about that later. 

It was a five minute drive from the campsite to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument - also known as Custer's Last Stand. The battle took place June 25-26, 1876 along the Little Bighorn River. When you stand at the top of the ridge and look out over the battlefield, the immenseness is staggering. Try to imagine thousands of Native Americans spanning the area and you might get a small sense of what Custer and his 700 men must have seen and realized they were up against.

The free small museum in the visitor center was very interesting and certainly worth the time to walk through it...

Another area is dedicated to the Indian Memorial. I really liked this iron sculpture...

They have a separate cemetery for the horses that died in battle....

A National Cemetery is also located on the grounds... 

Geocachers will be happy to know you can do a geocache here. It always pays to check before you leave.

After buying a book on the Battle I headed out, first west on 90 and then swinging south on 212 aka Beartooth Highway. Starting at Red Lodge Montana, it winds it's way through Montana and Wyoming, ending at the northeast entrance to Yellowstone. I stopped and did a couple geocaches along the way - first one in Hardin....

Another geocache that I particularly enjoyed was in Red Lodge .  

The drive along Beartooth Highway is an adventure in itself, taking you to an astounding 10,947 feet above sea level at one point. There are numerous twists and turns and quite a few drop off areas. The views are stunning but it's hard to drive, gawk and take photos at the same time. The highway closes part of the year and is typically open from Memorial Day until mid October. Allow yourself plenty of time to meander down this highway especially if you're by yourself and want to get loads of photos. I would have stopped more often than I did but it was definitely taking me longer to drive this section than I had allotted for.

Once I got past Cook City and into Yellowstone they were rebuilding  a huge section of road and only had one lane open to traffic. They let 20 or 30 cars go through one way and once they passed through then they’d let 20 or 30 cars go back the other way. I sat there for quite some time in the traffic jam getting aggravated and annoyed at the delay. Not a good way to start my Yellowstone experience. I was hungry and I needed to go to the bathroom. I pulled out some snack bars and munched on those while I sat in traffic and waited for my turn to advance.

My plan was to stop at Mammoth Hot Springs before I went to my campsite in West Yellowstone. I planned it that way because I was going past Mammoth anyway and it would keep me from having to drive back north that way the next day. The drive through the park to Mammoth Hot Springs also took much longer than I expected. There was lots of traffic on the road and my impatience and frustration was building. I finally spotted a small pull off area so I swung over and I climbed into the back of my car to use my port a potty. I saw quite a few bison at many different spots along the way. I was happy to at least start seeing some wild life...

When I finally got to the Hot Springs it had started raining and it took me a few minutes to find a parking space in the crowded parking lot. I ended up taking a quick walk around the boardwalk’s snapping pictures. The springs are stunningly beautiful and I was sorry it was so late in the day, raining, and that I was so tired. I definitely would have liked to explore that area a little more but the rain pissed me off and I still had over an hour to go until I reached my campground.

As soon as I got back onto the grand loop heading south towards the west entrance I ran into more road construction. They were repaving a section of road between Mammoth and the West entrance, so again traffic was backed up for quite some time.   By now I was exhausted and aggravated and I had been on the road and/or sightseeing for almost 10 hours. All I wanted to do was get to the campground and I felt like it was taking forever to get there, and I wasn't enjoying my first afternoon in Yellowstone at all. Then I started thinking about what a long drive it had been so far, how I’m doing it all myself, and how much I miss my husband who passed away last year. I just lost it and started crying and I was kicking myself in the butt thinking I’m an idiot to try to do a trip like this by myself. I just had a massive melt down. Imagine my happiness at finally seeing this sign towards West Yellowstone...

Finally I got to the Yellowstone Park Mountainside KOA campground with a big sigh of relief. The campground itself is really nice with roomy showers. I ate a quick dinner and then I pitched my tent but ended up just crawling into my car. The temperatures were predicted to be in the low 20s that night and I wasn't in the mood to be cold. I was fast asleep by 9 o’clock.


  1. I hope you rested good. Thank you for the sightseeing virtual vacation! I know that probably I'll never go so this is almost like being there for me and I thank you!

    1. The next day is much better as you will see. I'm glad you're along on a virtual trip with me Dolly!

  2. So sad to hear you lost your husband. I can't imagine how hard that is.

    I've noticed that when I run into delays (construction, getting lost ...) it's always when I'm tired and hungry. I have those days too when I realize I did too much. The problem is that you don't know it until it's too late!

    1. Well thats the darn truth. It's hard to step back, take a deep breath and then get into the right frame of mind again. The next day will be better!

  3. Loneliness can sure hit you like a ton of bricks. This trip was so courageous, and not surprising that there were moments of frustration. I am just in awe of you.

  4. Thanks Gail. That was a rough day for me for sure. The next day I was fine tho. :-)


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