Destination: Gardiner, MT
Wildlife: Elk, Longhorn Sheep, Bison, Canada Geese (ha ha)
Sheridan is bounded on the west by a large mountain range, the Bighorns. The Bighorns top out at over 13,000 feet.
One of the routes from Sheridan to Jellystone is highway 14. The road turns off I-80 and heads for the hills. It reaches the foot of the mountain range and starts climbing, zigzagging up a near-vertical wall. The view is spectacular. At something over 8000 feet, about 5000 feet above Sheridan, the road goes through a pass, but instead of heading down, it hangs out in an Alpine meadow setting for a dozen or more miles. It’s very pretty, with rocky peaks and green fields.
There are signs on the way up and down indicating the age of the rocks. The oldest rocks there are listed as 500 million years old (apologies to Bible literalists). What’s really interesting is that the higher up you go, the OLDER the rocks get.
Once the highway finally starts its way down, it descends rapidly. There’s a waterfall with fancy visitor center on Shell Creek. The water drops over a ledge, then cuts through a dramatic gorge until it finally reaches the “ground” level.
The road then shoots across Wyoming in a badlandsish environment until it reaches Cody, the gateway to eastern Yellowstone.
The road into Yellowstone is, once again, mountainous, paralleling the Shoshone River into the park. The evidence of one of the fires that ravaged Yellowstone is obvious.
We stopped for a couple of walks through steaming cauldrons of boiling mud, then headed for Mammoth Hot Springs, the closest exit to our reserved campground. Most of the campgrounds in Yellowstone are first-com, first-served, and they were all full when we passed them.
The road north out of Yellowstone is under construction, and is not as enticing as Highway 14 out of Yellowstone.
Our campground is surprisingly nice.