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.
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.
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.
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.
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