Onward to Cody, Wyoming

It would have been much faster to rive straight through Yellowstone NP, but I hate the traffic so I avoid it. I also needed to shop at a Walmart so going aorund made sense.

It would have been much faster to drive straight through Yellowstone NP, but I hate the traffic so I avoid it. I also needed to shop at a Walmart so going around on the Interstate made sense.

After the 4th of July it was time to get back on the road and see more of Wyoming. Since one of the things I am trying to do is drive all the entrances into Yellowstone the logical next step was to drive the remaining ones and the closest one was the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway which starts in the Wyoming plains just north of Cody, Wyoming and drives up into the mountains and ends at the Beartooth Highway. It has a strong reputation as a beautiful drive and also has a lot of history to it since Chief Joseph passed this way trying to escape from the horrors of civilization and to protect his people from being slaughtered.

I also needed to find a Walmart to stock up after being on the road and camping for awhile so I decided to go north to Bozeman, MT, do my shopping and then take Interstate 90 across to Laurel, MT and then drop down to Cody. I’ve been trying to avoid the freeways, but in this case it was either that or drive through Yellowstone NP again and I did not want to do that—Yellowstone is just too frustrating for me. I also needed to drive up US 191 from West Yellowstone to Bozeman to report on the road so that left me no choice but take the Interstate.

My Pryor Mountain Rd. camp on BLM land.

My Pryor Mountain Rd. camp on BLM land.

Highway 191 is a very pleasant drive! It’s not a dramatic mountain climb but you do pass through some very pretty mountain valleys as you follow the Gallatin River. You are actually in Yellowstone NP for a few miles, but it’s the least pretty part. It’s a wonderful drive and if there weren’t so many other spectacular drives into Yellowstone this would be a very highly recommend route. Being at the bottom of the list of entrances to Yellowstone doesn’t mean it’s not a great drive, it just means the others are some of the best anywhere in the world!

From Bozeman across on the Interstate is okay, for awhile you have mountains on both sides of the freeway, but as you travel east they get further away and smaller until you are finally in the high plains. I stopped and ate at Laurel, MT and got online as well to answer emails and check the forum. From there I turned south on 310 to Cody, WY. By then it was getting late and I needed to find a camp for the night so I could get into Cody early in the morning.

Much of Wyoming is High Plains which is sagebrush country, like you see here. But as it gets closer to the many mountain ranges it gets progressively more hilly and then mountainous. Much of it is BM land so finding a nice campsite is usually easy.

Much of Wyoming is High Plains which is sagebrush country, like you see here. But as it gets closer to the many mountain ranges it gets progressively more hilly and then mountainous. Much of it is BLM land so finding a nice campsite is usually easy.

So I got out my DeLorme and Benchmark Atlas of Wyoming and looked for public land along the way and close to Cody. I found the Pryor Mountain Road which went east just south of Bridger Montana. It passed through intermittent BLM land and ended in the Custer National Forest. I was confident I could find a good campsite either on BLM land on the way and if I couldn’t I could camp in the National Forest.

I was right, I found a really nice campsite a few miles back that I enjoyed a lot! It had a really nice little creek flowing close by and hills to climb with great views. If it had internet I would have stayed for awhile, but alas, no internet. The Pryor Mountains are home to a Wild Horse refuge that has some of the oldest existing bloodlines in the country—some have DNA going back to the original horses brought here by the Spanish in the 1500s. I’ve been hoping to get up there but it’s looking like it may not happen.

This is the area right above my camp, I thought it was very pretty. The streak of green that cuts diagonally through it is a very pretty little creek that Cody loved!

This is the area right above my camp, I thought it was very pretty. The streak of green that cuts diagonally through it is a very pretty little creek that Cody loved!

The little creek near our camp.

The little creek near our camp.

The next day I drove into Cody, looked around for a few hours and then drove the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. Unfortunately, as the day went on the weather grew worse and by the time I was up on its pass, the weather was very poor and I couldn’t get any good pictures. It was a truly spectacular drive and I really wanted to get some photos of it so I decided to drive through Yellowstone and back to my Gardiner camp and wait for a clear day to turn around and drive back to Cody through the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. I’ll cover that in my next travel post.

The weather was very bad as I drove the chief Joseph Scenic Byway so I didn't take any picture. But after I entered Yellowstone I got a very pretty rainbow. Here is a shot of it over the Yellowstone River

The weather was very bad as I drove the chief Joseph Scenic Byway so I didn’t take any picture. But after I entered Yellowstone I got a very pretty rainbow. Here is a shot of it over the Yellowstone River

There are two good thing about all the bad weather I’ve been in this summer, the first is it has cooled it off before it got too hot and the second is I’ve gotten a lot of really nice rainbow shots. As I was driving through Yellowstone toward Gardiner I got some nice shots of rainbows and then when I got into my Gardiner camp I got some more.

In my next post I’ll cover my trip back to Cody through the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway and include photos from it.

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I love this flashlight, it is staggeringly bright at 1000 Lumens. It’s the brightest I’ve ever seen
Duracell Durabeam Ultra 1000 Lumens Flashight
Since I hike a lot, I carry this monocular and highly recommend it because it’s light, rugged, sharp and works very well:
Vortex 8×25 Waterproof Monocular
I really like carrying a printer, I don’t print often, but when I need to I really need to. I just didn’t have room–until I found this Canon portable printer. It’s a little bigger and thicker than a laptop and has worked perfectly for me!
CANON PIXMA iP110 Mobile Printer

I got another nice rainbow as I was climbing up from Gardiner, MT to my camp.

I got another nice rainbow as I was climbing up from Gardiner, MT to my camp. You can see I am right at the transition zone between sagebrush and mountain forests.


I've been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

31 comments on “Onward to Cody, Wyoming
  1. Avatar Lucy says:

    Lots of water creeks for Cody, N I C E !!
    Enjoy the cool weather, it’s been terribly hot in Southern California.

    Wish U & Cody have a good time !!


  2. Avatar tommy helms says:

    No picture of Cody in front of a “Welcome to Cody” sign?

  3. Avatar steve says:

    The area you’re exploring is at the top of my list for next summer. Then on to Glacier. Follow your blog constantly, it will be my guide next summer. So much useful info on camping, camping sites, etc. You look for the places I would, not the cities and crowds, but the remote beautiful places — thanks!!

  4. Avatar Mike says:

    Looks like the cool weather has been a blessing Bob, yes it was 104 in southern CA last week, the deserts to the East are cooking. you should be thankful, you have a good sprit, the weather certainly knows it. Be safe., see ya down the road.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Mike, you’re right, I complain about the heat but I doubt it’s been over 90 once all summer, if it all.

      I don’t like heat so I plan my travel to avoid it.

  5. Avatar Hotrod says:

    Hi Bob,

    You mentioned BLM land. Looks very good even if they do allow hunting on BLM land. Screw it! I guess I am just going to live with it cause it just too good to pass on. Although I would spend most of my time on BLM land in the off hunting season. So I guess it works out. I plan on doing winter (rifle deer hunting season) in Quartzite or along the Gulf coast at free camps and walmarts.
    What is the best way to identify BLM land as I travel? Seek maps from BLM website themselves?


    • Bob Bob says:

      Hotrod, most BLM land has very little game on it worth hunting. I’ve never seen a hunter in all my time on it. There are deer very near
      Quartzsite (I’ve seen them) but I can’t believe there is an open season on them there. It’s just packed with people everywhere and a missed shot can go for miles.

      Remember, that nearly all BLM land is west of the Rocky Mountains, If there is any east of them it’s very, very little.

      Finding BLM land:

      BLM websites and maps
      DeLorme and Benchmark Atlas
      US Public Lands app for cell phones
      DeLorne Topo mapping software


  6. Avatar JD says:

    Bob, perhaps a bit of self-reflection might be good from time to time.

    I got as far as “Chief Joseph passed this way trying to escape from the horrors of civilization…” but honestly had to stop when the next paragraph started with your need to find a walmart.

    I find it quite disingenuous and more than a little hypocritical when people decry the “horrors of civilization” while all the time roiling in the largesse it affords. You’re not alone in this of course, a whole generation of your peers seems to be, in no small way, addicted to the same imbalance.

    Operating under the rubric of finding “freedom” does not excuse one from the reality that they are indeed very much at the fore of the problem they decry.

    You apparently use the infrastructure of that civilization, it’s roads, bridges, internet, etc. Touting support, nominal or not, for Walmart, General Motors, Amazon, Verizon or a host of energy extraction industries (which one inherently does traveling open spaces in a large van) is to take a seat at the banquet of horrors, the fact of which gets lost in the name of personal convenience and gratification I’m sure.

    • Avatar tommy helms says:

      Go away troll

    • Avatar Lucy says:

      YES, go away troll !

    • Avatar Calvin R (Ohio) says:

      We live where and when we do. Anyone who gives up traditional housing in this country is not “at the fore of the problem they decry.” That kind of either/or thinking aggravates any issue it addresses. If you don’t have a solution, you’re part of the problem. Go back under your bridge.

    • Bob Bob says:

      JD, thanks for your thoughtful comment and I understand your point of view, but I look at it a little differently.

      I’ve made it my goal to do all within my very limited power to try to slow down the machine of civilization and the many horrible things it is doing. I see three ways to do it:

      1) Withdraw from civilization to the greatest degree possible and do as little as I can to contribute to it’s efforts to destroy our ecosystem. The problem is, that’s illegal and if you actually do it, you will go to jail. So you have to make many compromises to continue living within this civilization.
      2) Commit acts of violence against civilization in an effort to slow down it’s destruction. Was the French Resistance evil for killing German solders by subterfuge. No, they were following a much higher calling and fighting a monstrous evil and so we honor and celebrate them today. Our civilization is just as monstrous an evil.
      3) Work from within the system to entice as many people as I can to withdraw from the evil machine and stop supporting it. Every person who follows my lead and leaves their job and moves into a van or RV is no longer destroying the planet like they used to nor are they supporting the evil machine like they used to.

      I have chosen number three. I am fighting the system from within by using the system. Of course there aren’t very many who follow me and we aren’t going to have any real impact in the big picture. But the simple fact is I have made a difference. I have directly touched numerous lives and made them dramatically better by offering them hope and a whole new way of living they never even considered. Every one of them is then doing tremendously less damage to the earth. For that alone I will continue my work.

      In the past, I’ve tried to entice people into my way of life by telling them how bad civilization is and how they need to love the earth. All that does is make people mad!!!! So I rarely do it anymore. Seeing the horrors of what we have done to the native Americans has left me no choice but do it again very soon, but that is the rare exception and probably won’t happen again for a long time.

      Instead, I tell them how much better their lives will be, and it’s true their lives will be much, much better. For that, people will change their lives. So I make my life look appealing and I tell them how to duplicate it.

      Back to the French Resistance, everyday they went out and cooperated with the Nazis, and every night they went out and fought them. Were they hypocrites? No they were caught up in a huge and evil system that they couldn’t fight directly, they had to fit in and do what little they could, whenever they could. They are my model, I’m doing the best I can within my limited abilities.

      • Avatar Lucy says:

        Bob, is my believe that many people would like to follow you footsteps ( me for example ), but one of the main reasons they don’t do it is because of health challenges, many of us need to be within walking distance to a hospital, doctor or other health practitioners.

        My regards, Lucy.

        • Bob Bob says:

          I’m sure you’re right Lucy, the road doesn’t work if you have many health challenges. However, I do know some people with fairly difficult problems who manage to pull it off. But I also know people who tried but it just couldn’t work.

          It really is a lifestyle for the basically healthy.

  7. Avatar Hotrod says:

    If I could I would go back in time and live a couple of hundred years ago. I think most people here would. Its not even the living of back then that’s attractive it’s the freedom. We are renaissance peoples. We are in this world but not of it. Now back to your IRS job troll.

    • Avatar Lucy says:

      Hotrod, you’re right I’ll be happy going back in time 100 years ago, living in a farm in the boonies where the air was fresh & smelling like eucaliptus trees; listening to the rain on the tin roof, waking up to the chirping birds & the rustle of the wind on the pines needles. The technology now a days is terrific, I have no complains for the contrary, but back then we have sense of peace & relaxation that we are missing during these busy times.

      My regards. Lucy.

  8. Avatar Zman says:

    Good one tommy helms
    Good one Lucy

  9. Avatar Openspaceman says:

    Bob, JD, Tommy, Lucy, Fellow Mobile Folks_

    I am grateful for the ability to buy solar panels, batteries, gas and food at a reasonable price. But since going fulltime in my van my carbon footprint is barely measurable compared to the average person connected to a power plant. “And yes, JD, I’m aware none of this would be possible without that power plant to produce the products I use to get off the grid. But I am now, for the last two years off the grid indefinitely. So besides gasoline I’m doing less harm then the same person in a traditional 1000 sq. ft home.

    *JD_ Imagine the math if you took 1000 single people living in their van relying only on solar power compared to a thousand single people in apartments connected to the grid. Those people have cars also.

    **What’s the point of attacking the vanliving lifestyle. Bob’s been off the power grid for ten years+ not in a giant diesel pusher but a small van…
    just another option.

    Not looking for an argument…just the way I see it.

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