Early explorers called the area around Glacier National Park The Crown of the Continent. If we’d have been here first, we’d likely call it something similar. The hiking in Glacier National Park was mind-blowing. The glaciers, and the broad, deep glacial-carved valleys and long, skinny, clear lakes, were unlike any views we’d ever seen before anywhere. And we experienced a new type of adventure – patiently queueing.
Stan and Cyndee were driving their new truck camper from Vermont to Big Sky, Montana. We were on our way from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park. The paths would cross, but the timing was off and it appeared we wouldn’t get to meet up (does this sound familiar?). Then the sun set, Jupiter aligned with Mars, schedules changed just a teeny bit, and we found ourselves a window of opportunity. We held over an extra day at a free campground overlooking the Yellowstone River, conveniently close to an air-conditioned museum on that scorching day in Columbus, Montana, then took a short detour to the south to meet our friends as they arrived at their destination.
The land which comprises Yellowstone National Park is iconic. In 1806, most people dismissed the accounts of its rugged beauty and curious boiling mud and steaming rivers by John Colter, an early explorer and former member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, thinking he was delirious. Given his reputation for exaggeration, Jim Bridger’s 1856 reports of a river flowing past yellow walls were also dismissed. Ultimately, photographs by William Henry Jackson and paintings by Thomas Moran in 1871 created a buzz and were the catalysts for the US Congress to set aside public lands for protection and public pleasure in the 19th century. Yellowstone was subsequently established as the first National Park in 1872. Great lodges, large, elegant and full service (for the day – no internet back then, though desks with letter writing supplies were scattered throughout the common areas) were soon built to attract vacationers from the populated east coast who were increasingly attracted to western adventures made easier by rail travel. Yellowstone is one of the largest National Parks in the US and more than 4 million people visit every year, which this year included these two Vermonters.
Jackson Hole is the (aptly named) broad, flat valley between the Gros Ventre Range and Teton Mountain Range. To enter from any direction is to ‘drop’ into the hole. The 13,000-foot Teton Range dominates the view from anywhere in the hole which can only mean one thing… Lots of Teton Range photos!
Happy Fourth of July to all from Mackay (rhymes with wacky), ID!