May 29th --Beartooth pass to the Yellowstone NP--
It was partly cloudy today, too. So I couldn't enjoy "the large sky" of Montana. But it was very fortunate of me to take this route because I could enjoy skiing today. The shortest way from Billings to the Yellowstone National Park is the US-212 which goes to the Northeast Entrance through Red Lodge and the Beartooth Pass. The Beartooth Pass is the state line between Montana and Wyoming at the elevation of 10947 feet (about 3600 m). Yes, it is almost as high as Mt. Fuji and it's quite natural to have snow.
I left the motel at 9:30 and took the I-90 west. When I switched to the US-212, I was surprised to see a sign of speed limit. It said 70 MPH! (112 km/h) It was just an usual two way traffic and they even have farmer's houses on the both sides. I love the generosity of Montana. Soon, I got to a town called Red Lodge. In the town I met a small march, which reminded me that today was the memorial day. Old guys in uniforms with rifles were walking followed by kids with some flags. After that a small band on a trailer came along. It was a heartwarming view of local people. I waited for about 10 minutes and drove west again.
The road became tough after Red Lodge. It went up and up and up. I was a little bit anxious about my Jeep. But the view was great. I could see high mountains in white far away on green canyon. I stopped many times for pictures and my Jeep. Then I found many pick-ups in a parking area at the bottom of a snow slope. I also stopped there and found people carrying ski. First I was just watching the slope without skiers. But after a while I found myself taking out my ski from my Jeep. When I was preparing, I asked one guy how long it took to get to the top. He said about 30 minutes, and suggested me to hitchhike to the top. But I didn't feel like going that far. I put on ski boots, carried ski and poles, and started walking to the snow. The slope was full of rocks and I found it's very difficult to walk on rocks with ski boots. I struggled in the rocky area to reach snow area. But the snow area was also tough because my boots sank very deep. After about 10 minutes walk on the slope, I met another skier. She asked me if I was planning to walk to the top. I couldn't answer it because I was also wondering if I could keep on going until the top. She also suggested to hitchhike to the top. So I changed my mind. Skiing down and walking on the rocky area, I got to the parking lot again. Actually, it was quite easy to find a ride. An old couple living in Billings took me to the top.
I took some pictures at the pass of state line, and stared to walk to the trail head. It was also tough. On the top of the mountain, I took a lunch break. After walking for about 10 more minutes, I got to the head of the slope. It was quite steep and narrow. I started skiing, yelling "Hyoooooooh". I came to the bottom quite soon. The snow was a little bit wet but I really enjoyed the good slope.
Back to my car, I prepared for leaving. I drove along the road and crossed the pass. On the way to the Yellowstone NP, I also gave a ride to one skier who was enjoying at another spot. The view was still great, snow mountains, frozen lakes, small streams, green hills, rich rivers, everything was great. And I realized that I visited here in the best season.
I entered the park from the Northeast Entrance. The Yellowstone National Park is quite large and it has some different features. It is very famous for its hot springs and geysers, but they are mainly in a west region. In a northeast region, I could enjoy beautiful creeks going through a green field. Melted snow make small streams and they gather to form a creek. Water was quite rich and so did greens. Driving through the green and blue field, I reached Mammoth Hot Springs. I smelled rotten eggs and this reminded me a good hot springs in Japan. I really missed "onsen". I walked along a trail around the Lower Terraces Area and saw many hot springs and beautiful terraces.
After that I drove south to Norris, where I planned to camp. On the way I saw many deer. Yes, wild life is also the important feature of this park. I also found many many dead trees, or dead forest. I didn't know why this happened, maybe by some disease, but this was really a painful view. As I have an experience to meet a bear in Yosemite NP, I was a little bit nervous about camping. But as I packed all the odorous stuff in my car, which Yellowstone NP recommends to do, I didn't have any surprise tonight.
A terrace of hot spring
Speed Limit of US-212 is 70!
Beautiful scenery along the US-212
At the Beartooth Path
The slope was quite steep
At the bottom
Beautiful creek in the northeast region of the Yellowstone NP
An overview of the Main Terrace
previous day ------ next day
return to "Drive Around US"