I have been many places in my life, visited many different states, but it is sad that as a 26 year old (yes I’m a baby) woman I had never once been to Yellowstone National Park. I was so excited to take in one of our nation’s gems. And I will be honest, I was beyond excited to see buffalo in real life for the first time. I am like a buffalo repellant. We’ve ridden through Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, no buffalo AND Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota, no buffalo. Well Yellowstone didn’t disappoint on the buffalo or the sights for that matter.
We spent the day riding through the ENTIRE park. Literally venturing to every corner on the park that we could and thanks to a wrong turn, we got to see Mammoth Springs (not on the itinerary, HA!). We got to see Old Faithful erupt, take in the serenity along the banks of Lake Yellowstone, and even crossed the Continental Divide a few times! I am such a nerd when it comes to learning about history, geography, and other random knowledge facts so Yellowstone was right up my alley.
For some of my fellow nerds out there.. Yellowstone is America’s first and largest National Park. It was established in 1872 by the United States Congress and today, encompassing 2.2 million acres. Yellowstone contains about 250 active geysers and more than 10,000 total geothermal features, more than anywhere else in the world!
We entered through the West Entrance to the park which parallels the Madison River, a route followed by the earliest pioneers into the park. Coming into the park, I was already in awe! And it didn’t take us long to come across our first buffalo! I was literally so excited!! He was just walking down the road. (check out the video below)
That evening we left the park out the Northeast Entrance and stayed in a SMALL town called Silver Gate, MT. The town of Silver Gate is one mile from the entrance to Yellowstone and three miles from the popular snowmobiling town of Cooke City. Silver Gate was founded in 1932 to serve the visitors of Yellowstone as well as became an established mining town at the time. The town’s original construction laws required only log and rustic architecture which today, gives Silver Gate its very unique character. Silver Gate sits at an elevation of 7,400 feet while the peaks that surround the the town soar to over 10,000 feet. It’s a beautiful area that gets quite chilly. In fact, due to bad road conditions, the Northeast entrance and most of the road up towards Silver Gate and Cooke City shuts down for most of the year.
If you are looking for luxury, Silver Gate isn’t your place. It is rustic, it is rural. We stayed at the Grizzly Lodge. My dear new husband and I slept on a double bed and watched 1 of 2 movies on the tv in our room that were played from the front desk. The room probably had the same green shag carpet and ugly curtains from the 70’s, but the room was clean and the shower had been completely re-tiled and stuck out like a sore thumb in the old room. We were roughin’ it but it was an adventure!
We ate that evening in Cooke City at the Soda Butte Lodge. It was a very neat old Saloon and Lodge. The food was wonderful (I had a garlic stuffed steak) and we had great service. We sat in the bar and got to look out three picture windows. Watching the sun set that evening over the huge peaks was just amazing. Silver Gate and Cooke City, although rustic, was a GORGEOUS area!
Have you ever visited Yellowstone? What was your favorite part of the park?
Stay tuned for the next post where we travel the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway which links the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone to the town of Cody, Wyoming.