Rocky Mountains & Western Frontiers Land Tour
8/30/17 to 9/12/17

Due to the length of the review, it is in 5 parts to help with the download time. The links to the other pages are at the top of each page.

Page 1 - Denver, CO to Cheyenne, WY to Rapid City, SD
Page 2 - Rapid City, SD to Billings, MT to Cody, WY
Page 3 - Cody, WY to Yellowstone Nat. Park to Jackson Hole, WY

Page 4 - Jackson Hole, WY to Salt Lake City, UT
Page 5 - Salt Lake City, UT to Vernal, UT to Steamboat Springs, CO to Denver, CO


Day 7 – Cody, Wyoming to Yellowstone National Park

As we were leaving town, we passed by the Cody Stampede Park, where the rodeo is held during season.


We were on our way to Yellowstone National Park (, the nation’s first national park and probably first in the world.  I was excited to finally experience it.  After so many smoky days, we were pleased to finally have the clearest day yet.  Especially, since the terrain was very interesting.





Not long after we left Cody, we had a photo stop where we saw a rock formation known as the Holy City.  It is named this, since it is supposed to resemble the city of Jerusalem.  Since Carol and I had just been to Jerusalem the previous year, we knew that there wasn’t much of a resemblance; but it did look like an ancient city. 

It was a nice photo stop with lots to snap away at.

We continued our drive seeing more unusual rock formations.  I was so glad that we didn’t have to contend with the smoke.  I had installed an altimeter app on my iPhone to keep track of our elevation during the tour, after Scott mentioned that he had one.  He was keeping us posted periodically when we were getting into high elevations.  What was surprising to me was that during most of the tour we were well above the mile-high elevation that we were so impressed by in Denver.  We were over a mile and a half high during this drive.




We stopped for a restroom break just before we entered Yellowstone, at a place called Pahaska Tepee (  It was Buffalo Bill’s former hunting lodge and hotel.  The restroom and shop were in the modern structure; but I was most interested in seeing the huge log cabin that was built in 1901. 


The interior was a grand place with lots of stuffed animal heads and other hunting lodge decorations.  The Buffalo Bill figure was also a popular photo opp where people would act like he was their best friend.


Soon after the break, we entered Yellowstone.  It wasn’t long until we saw different rock formations and areas that had been devastated by fire.


We also passed by lakes; but the reason we were there was to see the geothermal features, of which there were many.  More than any other place in the world.



We also saw large herds of bison around the park.  When we saw some that were relatively close to us, Jerry stopped the bus so we could get out and take photos.



The first official stop in the park was at a place called Artist Point in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  As we went down the path to Artist Point, we started to see the beauty of the various hues of color in the canyon.  I took a photo of Carol before I went further down into the canyon.


As I got further down, I got a glimpse of the falls in the background.  This was a gorgeous place. 

I moved down to a viewing area that gave a full view of the falls at one end of the canyon on one side, and the canyon valley on the other.  Just an awesome sight. 


After we had spent a good amount of time taking in the beauty of the canyon, we headed to Canyon Village, where we were going to have lunch.  On the way to the restaurant, we saw one of the antique yellow 14-passenger buses.  These were the 1936 models.  They are still used to tour the area by Xanterra, who runs the concessions in the national parks.


This was a very large concession area, with several restaurant choices.   We chose a place called Canyon Eatery Fresh Woks.  It was like a Chipotle for Asian food.  It was absolutely delicious.  Unfortunately, it isn’t a chain restaurant; and apparently this is the only place where you can get this food. 

After lunch, we drove through the Lamar Valley on our way to Mammoth Hot Springs.  We had our closest encounter of the tour with a bison, that was grazing along the side of the road.





Further down the road we had a photo stop at a scenic location.  The smoke in this area took away from the experience.  I was just glad that we hadn’t had smoke issues while we were in the Grand Canyon area.


We continued passing by beautiful scenery.  Yellowstone was much prettier than I expected.  I have previously mainly seen media highlighting the geothermal features of the park.  There is just so much more to see in the park.  It is indeed a feast for your eyes, as I had read in a brochure.



As we approached Mammoth Hot Springs, Scott kept talking about the white terraces up ahead.  I didn’t know what he was talking about.  When we parked the bus, Scott pointed toward the terraces.  Now I knew what he was talking about.  I could see them in the distance.  From that distance, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at; but I knew that I wanted to get a closer look. 

The pain in my left foot had been getting worse during the week, probably due to me walking too much.  I decided that I had better use Carol’s cane for a few days to see if it would ease my pain.  It slowed me down, but it did help.  There was a pretty long boardwalk leading to the terraces; but I had to see what was there.  It looked intriguing. 

As I got closer, I was so glad that I had made the walk.  It was just an amazing place.  The bright white calcium deposits and various colors around the terraces just make a sight that is hard to take your eyes off of; or in my case, my camera lens.


The shape of the terraces where they are like large shallow bowls accumulating the boiling liquid, is very similar to the Turkish tourist attraction Pamukkale.  The main difference is that Pamukkale is inactive, so the bowls fill up with beautiful blue water that tourist can bathe in.  I was supposed to visit that attraction last year; but had to cancel the excursion.  So I was glad that this was a similar type place.


On the way back to the bus, I stopped to look at Liberty Cap, which is a dormant cone.  There was also a sign in front of it that named it Devil’s Thumb.  Whatever the name is, it is does draw a lot of attention.

On the way to our hotel for the evening, we passed by more beautiful mountain scenery and an elk grazing along the side of the road.



Our hotel for the night was the Gray Wolf Inn, West Yellowstone (, in Montana.  This was a very nice hotel.

Our room was large and very comfortable.  The beds were just perfect for support and softness.  We thought it was a nice touch to have a furry pet waiting on the bed for us.  If we wanted to take it home, we could purchase it.



I had looked up restaurants that were nearby that we could walk to on Yelp.  I found a Mexican restaurant that had good reviews, so we decided to walk ten minutes into town.  On the way, we came to a large grizzly statue.

When we found the restaurant, it turned out to be in a travel trailer.  The menu also didn’t appeal to us, so we went across the street to the Canyon Street Grill.  The interior looked like a 1950’s diner.  We weren’t too hungry and just got some sandwiches.  They were just OK, nothing special.

On the way back, Carol wanted me to use the TravelScoot to rest my foot.  I told her I would just use it part of the way and she could use it the rest.  It was nice to be riding.  Once we got back to the hotel I got some ice and put it on my foot.  It did seem to help.  I wanted to be able to walk tomorrow, since we were going to the geothermal area of the park.


Day 8 - Yellowstone National Park to Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole

When we had checked into the hotel the previous day, Scott told us that the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center ( was just across the street from the hotel.  This center was originally started to house bears that had become too familiar and friendly with people.  It now houses, in addition to bears, three packs of wolves.  Scott said that he would regularly hear wolves howling in the morning when they stayed at the hotel.  While we were sitting in the lobby before getting on the bus, Scott came in and told us “the wolves are howling.”  So, I went outside to hear it for myself.  It was very cool.  A new experience for me.

As we came closer to our first stop in the park, we started to see steam coming from the surrounding area.  It was quite an unusual environment.

We parked at the Fountain Paint Pots Trail, which is a half mile trail through the bubbling and steamy geothermal area.  Carol wasn’t interested in going on the trail, so she told me to take her TravelScoot rather than walk the half mile trail.  I hated that she didn’t want to see the trail; but we have seen several other geothermal areas around the world, so she passed on it.  It certainly made my visit a lot easier and more fun, since it was a long path.


The paint pot area itself is quite pretty with the various colored muds around the bubbling ponds.



After looking at the pots for a while, I continued down the path to where the largest amount of steam was coming up from the Fountain Geyser.  I couldn’t get closer to it, since there were stairs that the scooter couldn’t navigate.  So, I took some photos and continued to a different path.


Somehow, I got turned around and ended up back at the paint pots.  Now I was concerned about how I was going to get back to the bus.  I continued down a different path and actually found a path without stairs that went to the Fountain Geyser, so I took a photo of it and tried again to find my way home.


In the distance, I could see a parking lot and that seemed to be the way people were walking, so I followed the crowd.  It was the right way back.  I was certainly glad I had taken Carol’s TravelScoot, since I am sure I traveled well over a mile during my time on it.  My foot was getting happy, since I hadn’t used it much.

The bus then went to our last Yellowstone destination, Old Faithful.  We were also going to have lunch there before continuing our travels.  Scott told us to go into the Old Faithful visitor center first to find out the estimated time for Old Faithful’s next eruption.  I didn’t see the sign, so I headed to the restroom before looking for the sign.  When I came out of the restroom, I saw the sign and the next eruption was due within the next couple of minutes.  I moved quickly outside and toward the geyser.  I got about halfway to the seating area when the steam started spewing.  I readied my camera and took photos of the steam and then the geyser itself climbing into the air.  By not being right up in the seating area, I think I got better photos of the eruption.   


Walking back from the visitor center, I could see how big it was with its large expanse of glass for visitors inside to view the eruptions.

With our visit at Old Faithful to be just over two hours, we would be able to see two eruptions, since the next one was estimated to be about an hour and a half later.  We wanted to see the historic Old Faithful Inn.  It is designated as a National Historic Landmark and is the largest log hotel in the world; and possibly the largest log structure in the world.  We originally had reservations to stay at the hotel last year when we were going to visit Yellowstone on our own, so I was looking forward to seeing what we missed.  It was a short walk to the rear entrance of the hotel.  I was impressed with the very tall log chimney.  I could also see steps leading up to the top of the roof, where I assume there is a viewing area.


As soon as we walked into main lobby, we went “Wow”.  It is quite a sight.  It is so massive and built with logs.  The 85-foot tall, 500-ton fireplace is the centerpiece.

The woodwork is just amazing, and there is so much of it.


We went outside to see the front of the building.  Really impressive!  In addition to the large viewing area over the entryway, I could see the viewing area on top of the roof that we had seen the steps going to.


We wanted to eat at the main restaurant for lunch, but it didn’t open until a half hour before we needed to be back on the bus; plus, the opening time was when Old Faithful was to erupt again.  It was easy to pass on that lunch and just get sandwiches from the hotel snack bar.

After lunch, I headed out to the viewing area where they had benches to sit on to view the eruption.  Carol stayed in the welcome center to watch it through the large windows.  On the way to Old Faithful, I could see many other steam vents not far away.



Even though I was very early for the eruption, there was already a good size crowd waiting for the show.  I was glad I was early.  Scott had told us that we were very fortunate to be in Yellowstone during this very slow tourist time.  He told us that it is normally much more crowded.  When he had been there two weeks earlier just after the solar eclipse, the park had the largest crowd on record.  A main reason we chose to tour this area in September was for the milder temperatures and smaller crowds.  If these were small crowds, it must be something else in high season.  Since I had taken still photos of the first eruption, I was going to video the next one on my iPhone.  Everyone just sat still and watched with anticipation while steam and an ocasional water spurt would come up.


When the eruption finally began, I started recording.  I was trying to keep it very still; but my bigger problem was that the sun was shining on the screen and I couldn’t see what I was recording.  I hoped that I had gotten the eruption.  When I got back to the bus, I was able to watch it.  It wasn’t positioned the way I wanted it; but it does show the eruption nicely and I have included it below.

After we left Old Faithful, we were still in the park for an hour and half before we left its boundaries.  Yellowstone is a very large park.  Since we were leaving from a different park entrance gate, we had different scenery on the way out.


During the trip, we passed the Continental Divide several times.  I was able to get a photo of one of the spots as we passed by it.  Scott told us not to worry, we would be stopping at one of the spots later during the tour.

Our next destination was to Grand Teton National Park (  The drive there was also quite pretty.



When we started to see the mountains in the distance from the bus, I was so disappointed that the smoke was really bad.  We could barely see the mountains.  I had seen photos of this gorgeous mountain range; but they didn’t look like the pictures at all.

I hadn’t realized that we still had over a thirty-minute drive to the viewing area where we were stopping.  When we got there, we were much closer and it was much better than our first view of the mountains; but the smoke still took away from what is normally an amazing site.  I have dehazed the photos, since I wanted to show they look like on clearer days.  With the tallest mountain in the range, Grand Teton, at 13,775 feet, it rises more than 7,000 feet above Jackson Hole.    


I took a panorama shot of the range, so I could remember what it looked like.

After we left the viewing area, I was actually able to get a better angle and clearer photo of Grand Teton mountain from the bus.

We would be spending the night in Jackson Hole.  We had heard how nice of a place it was, so we were looking forward to seeing what it was all about.  It obviously had a beautiful mountain range close by; and we were interested to see the city itself.  As we drove through, the town looked most interesting, with lots of shops and restaurants. 


Scott mentioned some of the ones that previous guests had commented on.  We were staying at the Antler Inn (  It was a very plain older hotel.


The room felt crowded and it was very dark.  However, it was clean and very convenient to downtown.


After our luggage arrived and I set it up for Carol to be able to unpack, I left to explore Jackson Hole.  Carol told me that I might as well use the Scooter, since she wouldn’t be going into town until I after I came back anyway.  That sounded like a great idea, so I jumped on her trusty steed to ride into town.  There were two places that I found on TripAdvisor that I planned on visiting.  The first was the famous Antler Arch.  There are actually four of them, one on each corner of the town square.  It was easy to find, since we saw them on our way through town to the hotel, only two blocks away.

There are about 2,000 elk antlers in each arch.  With the original arches being constructed in the 1950’s and 1960’s, they have been dismantled and reconstructed.  The elk antlers only have about a 30-40-year life span.  The antlers make up quite an intricate pattern.

In the center of the town square is a veteran’s memorial for the Teton County veterans.


The other major attraction is the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.   Its claim to fame is that the main bar has 624 silver dollars inlaid into it. 



They also use saddles as bar stools.  The decorations behind the bar gave it an authentic old western town feel.

Since I was there, I figured that I would saddle up to the bar and try one of their special drinks.  The drink was very good; but the saddle was quite uncomfortable.  It certainly didn’t encourage me to hang around for another drink.  It is a cute idea; but it didn’t work for me.  The saddle was also difficult to get onto and off of.  Oh well, it was a different experience to add to my memories.

While in town, I wanted to check out restaurant possibilities for dinner.  Riding around Jackson Hole on a scooter can be challenging.  There were lots of people walking around paying attention to the shop windows rather than other people they might run into.  With the sidewalks being more like boardwalks, the constant bouncing as I road over each slat started to get irritating.  I understand better now why Carol complains about the bouncing when she is riding the scooter over bumpy surfaces.

The restaurant I was most interested in checking out was one with a strange name.  It was called Merry Piglets Mexican Grill (  It was a very strange name for a Mexican restaurant; but the menu looked good and it was a real restaurant, rather than the travel trailer Mexican restaurant from the previous evening.  It looked good, so I headed back to the hotel to let Carol know where we were going for dinner.

We soon headed back to town, so I could show Carol around.  After the tour, we went to Merry Piglets.  We love Mexican food.  Since I am originally from Texas, I like to try Mexican food whenever we travel to experience the different regional flavors.  The menu had so many tempting items on it.  I wish that we had been in Jackson Hole longer to try more of them.  When we sat down, we were brought chips and salsa.  This was outstanding salsa, which is a good indication to us that the rest of the food could also be good.  Carol and I both ordered a chile relleno and enchilada combination plate; however, Carol got hers with a red sauce and I had the green.  Since I enjoy jalapeno peppers, I couldn’t resist the grilled jalapeno peppers dusted with cayenne pepper for an appetizer.   When the food was delivered to the table it looked so good and tasted even better. 


We loved Merry Piglets.  Our only regret was that we might never be able to eat there again.  If we lived anywhere near Jackson Hole, this would be our go to restaurant.  If you like Mexican food and you are in Jackson Hole, be sure to go there.


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