24 June 2016 –Left Thermopolis, WY for Yellowstone. We stayed at the Wyoming Gardens RV Park in Thermopolis just a bit from “downtown”. Not a bad place for an overnighter. Pad sites are gravel, but fairly level. Facilities are well kept and clean. It is on the main highway into town, so road noise is heavy. That did not bother us, but if you are a light sleeper, find another spot. It is also located about half a block from a McDonald so, yea, breakfast is ready!
The drive from there to Cody is hilly and desolate. Not much in the way of scenery. If it were not for the hills, one would mistake it for West Texas. In stark contrast is the drive from Cody up US20 into Yellowstone Park. Wow! Plenty of scenery for one to enjoy. It is a beautiful drive following the Wind River for a while, going through mountain tunnels, and reading the markers describing geologic formations.
We pull up to the main gate for the East entrance. Autos are 4 stacked in each of the four open lanes. As we get to the window the ranger asks if I have a park pass. I show her my senior pass and she says, “thank you, enjoy your visit”. A day pass to the park is $80; my pass costs $10. It takes a lot to keep our NPs in good shape and enjoyable for all.
The 26 miles up to Fishing Bridge, our destination, is absolutely breath-taking. The road climbs and winds, first hugging the mountainside then wrapping around a meadow. We see our first wildlife, and my first ever, a bull elk. What a rack! There are bison standing alone on a distant hillside, too far to get a good look, but close enough to be awestruck. The sad part is the remnants of a forest fire in a lodgepole area. The upside to that is the dormant seeds have sprouted and young trees are covering the area. One day, a new forest will cover the land providing habitat for flora, fauna, and fowl.
So let me speak of Fishing Bridge, the only RV park offering complete services,i. e., electricity, water, and sewer. It contains 325 spaces across 5 loops, each separated by a wooded area about 10 yards wide.
The spaces are wide enough for the trailer and the truck side by side. The upside is the central location to popular park destinations like Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. All spaces are back-in with campers behind but offset to you. Not a bad design. The roads in Loops E-F-G are in dire need of grading for they are full of potholes, serious potholes. However, that may be the NPS answer to speed bumps. If so, it works. Also, the roads are dirt, so when the wind picks up, there is dust flying around. (Plans are to grade and pave them next year.) If there is no wind or a bit of a breeze, get out the insect repellant because the mosquitos are all over. Finally, I do not get the reasoning behind the black water hookup. It is higher than the trailer drain leaving the hose to pool the grey and black water drainage. I notice most trailers are having the same problem.
So much for the minor inconveniences. I relay these only for information, not complaint. Let’s face it. We are in one of the most beautiful places on earth, the first national park, a haven for the city folks, a geologic wonder, and refuge to wildlife. We feel awestruck and eternally grateful to the souls who made this park possible.
We drive around the immediate area to get our bearings. There is a well stocked general store, a gas station, an auto/RV repair shop, and a visitors center. The visitors center has replicas of mostly birds encased, a diorama of the park, and a gift shop. We walk out the back door, down the chiseled rock steps, and out to the edge of Yellowstone Lake. Oh my gosh! The lake is vast and choppy with their edge seemingly bordered by snow-capped mountain ranges.