In case you aren’t a personal friend of mine and just follow my blog to check out fashion trends and get inspiration on your next wanderlusting adventure, I’ve actually been on the road exploring new areas that I’ve never been before. I hopped in the truck with my grandpa and drove to Montana. Yes. Drove. With my grandpa. And, it was the most natural fun I’ve had in awhile. I ventured through seven states by the fourth day. Can you believe that? California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Montana was our final destination, so we stayed there awhile and checked out Bozeman, Livingston, Yellowstone, Pray, and Cooke City.
I know. You’re probably confused why we chose Montana? Hunting. But, my personal reasoning lies within my bucket list. I want to visit every state (and continent) before I die. So, why wait? Now is always the best time.
Yellowstone National Park. The vast majority of this beautiful 3,468 square miles of land is closed off during the late fall and winter due to massive snowfall. Originally, when we got to Jackson Hole and learned that Yellowstone was closed (major detour in our trip), I was extremely bummed. Yellowstone was one of the main places I wanted to explore. We moved on though, still getting to check out Jackson Hole before continuing our way up and around into Idaho and then into Montana. Luckily, we found out once we were in Montana that the northern region of the national park was actually open! When looking at a map to scope out which section we could venture into, it seemed small. However, it literally took us all day long to drive to one end and back.
We started our long trail by driving through the Roosevelt Arch (1903) at the North Entrance in Gardiner and made our way to Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District (Wyoming), where Fort Yellowstone’s 35 structures remain from the 1890s and early 1900s when the US Army administered the park. From there, we drove through Undine Falls, the Blacktail Deer Plateau, Phantom Lake, Tower Roosevelt, Lamar Valley, Soda Butte Creek, Pebble Creek, and finally, Cooke City. Cooke City was smaller than we expected and has a population of 140 people. We were told it would be fun place to grab lunch, which we did…but, it was more like an early dinner by the time we got there. Everything was closed down because its off-season, but there was one tiny restaurant open, and I swear that I ate the best sandwich of my life there.
We saw about a total of 10 people in Cooke City, most of them being the Yamaha snow mobile team practicing for their upcoming season.
Northern Yellowstone is actually the warmer area of Yellowstone. Even though its north, it actually sits lower than the rest of the park. This means that the majority of the wildlife gather in this area to stay a tad warmer during the colder seasons. Not only did we see thousands of bison and elk (they were so close that I literally could touch them…big no-no though), mountains goats (who can literally climb vertically), coyotes, wolves, and some unique turkeys. The only animals we didn’t see were bears and moose.
Bison and elk think they own the roads, and I guess they actually do. They don’t care if there’s a car, they will stop traffic. Stop. Stare at you. Contemplate if they should move or not. Decide not to. Continue to stare until they’re bored. Then move. I particularly loved watching the coyotes hunt. They seem so cute, although very dangerous. They pounce into the snow, catching their prey off-guard. They look remarkably playful when they’re pouncing though! I could have watched them for hours.
Whenever you find yourself with extra time, I truly recommend buying a tank of gas instead of a plane ticket. The journey is just as important as your destination. I also firmly believe that exploring our own country is just as important as exploring internationally. There is so much beauty right under our noses, in places we brush off or don’t think twice about. Don’t underestimate the places without shining lights…Because, honestly, they are the most beautiful. They make your mind wander back to hundreds of years ago. They make you picture history. They are rich.
“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
Be sure to keep an eye out for my next post about Pray, Montana!