Campgrounds and Storm Point

Thursday, August 13 (continued)

After two fun hikes in the Tower Junction area, Jayne and I are feeling pretty hungry and we stop in at the quaint Roosevelt Lodge for a late lunch. The menu is limited and prices are a bit high since it’s in a national park, but it tastes fine enough. I have the buffalo chicken wrap and mashed potatoes. That may sound like an odd combination, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had mashed potatoes and they were calling to me!

Bison herd in Lamar Valley

Bison herd in Lamar Valley

Today is Jayne’s last day off before she goes back to Florida, so we make the most of it. Neither of us have been to Cooke City that we can recall, a small tourist town just out the northeast entrance to Yellowstone and we’re in the right area, so we leave her car parked at the gas station and take a drive out to see.


Yes, it’s a tourist town, but it does have a certain charm. Perhaps the fact that it doesn’t look hurried or busy is what draws us. Visitation in Yellowstone is up about 20% from last year as of the end of June (July’s numbers aren’t in yet), and we’re both getting tired of the crowds. I’ve been invited back to Yellowstone next summer, but I doubt I’ll accept. Besides wanting to see new things, next year is the 100 year anniversary of the National Park Service, and there is already merchandise for sale and special events being planned at parks around the country in celebration (for starters the “Find Your Park” campaign).

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that the NPS has been around 100 years and I love the national parks, I just don’t relish the thought of the even larger crowd expected at Yellowstone next year. In fact, I’m contemplating skipping the national park system altogether next summer and working elsewhere, but I haven’t any details on that yet.


Anyway, we drive through Cooke City, then turn around and go back through Lamar, making two more stops along the way.

Yellowstone has 11 campgrounds. Five are run by Xanterra and are by reservation, Fishing bridge is the only FHU campground. Seven are run by the NPS and are first come come served, I believe all of these are dry camping.

I have yet to see any of the campgrounds inside Yellowstone and there just so happens to be two NPS ones on our route back to tower.

Pebble Creek campground is at the far eastern side of Lamar Valley, set just a little ways off the road along the treeline and yes, does have a rather pretty little creek running by it. It’s quite small with only 27 sites on three loops, there are a couple long pull-throughs, but most are smaller. There are two pit toilets on site, generators are not allowed.


All in all, I find it quite adorable and would enjoy camping here sometime, though I’d need solar power first. It’s $15 a night, less for senior and access pass holders, and the maximum stay is 14 days during peak season. The camphost site is the first one in and they have a sign out saying the campground is full – no surprise there, you need to get to these campgrounds early in the morning to snag a site in July and August.


The second campground is Slough Creek (pronounced “slew” creek), two miles down a dirt road that right now has some pretty serious washboard action going on. A large herd of bison is out here and making driving a bit of a challenge, but they’re sure fun to photograph.


Slough Creek has 23 sites and the same rules and amenities. Maximum length is 30′ though, and that includes all equipment towing or being towed so I wouldn’t be able to come out here with Cas. I don’t take any pictures because there are a lot of people around and it always feels invasive to take pictures of campsites when the occupants are in them. Instead of loops, this campground runs in a long line that dead ends in small circle just big enough to turn around in. Behind the sites runs the creek, it’s also a pretty area.

The bison rut is on.  Two bulls fighting over females.

The bison rut is on. Two bulls fighting over females.

I drop Jayne back off at her car and we say our goodbyes for now. I’m sure we’ll meet up on the road again someday.

Thursday, August 14

Not going to lose me easily today with this pink umbrella

Not going to lose me easily today with this pink umbrella

Gray-bottomed clouds are piling up to the southwest, and I eye them with suspicion while preparing for today’s hike. My windbreaker and an umbrella make it into the pile of gear to take with, but I forget completely that I do have a rain jacket as well, buried in one of the storage bins in the back of Bertha.

It sprinkles on and off on the way to Fishing Bridge, located at the north end of Yellowstone Lake which is where today’s hike is. I’m going with my coworkers – all of whom have real rain gear.

The skies open up just as we’re getting our stuff out of the trunk. If I’d been hiking alone I simply would have waited for better weather. My shoes aren’t waterpoof, my rain jacket is heavy and doesn’t breathe, and my pants aren’t quick-drying. I have at times lamented not having “real” hiking gear (if you look at my pictures on hikes, you’ll see I do it in jeans, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes), but that’s one of the trade-offs I make for living on the road. It’s an acceptable trade-off in my book. The most important piece of gear for hiking as I saw it was the backpack with the water bladder, and so I bought myself one of those for my birthday. If hiking continues to be a big draw for me, I’ll buy myself another piece of gear when I have a bit of spare money again.

That bit of pink hanging down into the photo is the strap for the umbrella

That bit of pink hanging down into the photo is the strap for the umbrella, to the left is a pond

So I pull out the hot pink umbrella, a loan from one of the coworkers on today’s hike, and take that with me. The first bit of the 2.3 mile hike to Storm Point goes through a wide meadow, and a couple distant rumbles of thunder issue from above. “Lets pretend I’m not hiking through a field with an umbrella in a thunderstorm.” I say to my companions. I’m sure I look pretty ridiculous (and the pink clashes horribly with my orange backpack), but I stay more or less dry which is the big thing.

A flock of Canadian geese sit by the shore of the lake, as we approach they fly off to land in the water. A lot of my photos from today look like they’re black and white but they aren’t really, it’s just the way the lighting is. We’ll call it mood lighting and say it’s intentional.

One group of geese is already in the water, the other is flying just above the strip of land in the foreground

One group of geese is already in the water, the other is flying just above the strip of land in the foreground

One of my coworkers says this hike reminds them a lot of Acadia National Park up in Maine. I’ve never been to Maine so I can’t confirm or deny, but the tall conifers decked out in moss sure do look neat next to the lake. And the lake is big enough that with the far shore partly obscured by rain, that one could imagine they were walking along the ocean.


Adding to the ocean feel is the exposed shoreline reminiscent of low tide, the water level has continued to fall in the lake as the summer wears on. The flock of geese keep pace with us along the waters edge. The more I walk, the more glad I am that we hiked on a day with less than ideal weather. I rarely get to see the park like this in the rain, it feels like a completely different place.


The low clouds and dimness make it feel more intimate somehow. There is little wind and remarkably little chop to the water. The mountains are cast in silhouette with the sky brighter behind them.


And the geese swim on.


The forest abruptly ends and we’re cast out into a clearing. The rain has stopped and there’s even a hint of blue sky, but the next cell is visible over the lake and has partially obscured the mountains to the south.


Storm Point juts out into Yellowstone Lake, very aptly named on a day like today. Stunted fir and spruce struggle in it’s thin soil, exposed and perpetually leaning away from direction the wind comes from most often. What a perfect day to photograph this little piece of the park.


The shore is rocky, with eroded cliffs biting into the meadow. The whole place looks more than a little forbidding.


The rain moves closer as we approach the point.


It’s a long way down from the point to the water below, and large rocks are visible below the surface. Not the sort of place you’d want to jump in from.


From here, the trail follows the shore along the crest of the eroding cliff. Geologically the area is very intriguing. There are layers of different kinds of soil and rock which I sadly know nothing about.


Just as the rain starts up again – this time it’s quite gentle – the trail turns off into more forest. It looks more like the woods near Old Faithful, lodgepole pine with saplings coming up underneath. Many of the saplings have some brown needles although again it’s hard to tell in this light. It could be the pine bark beetle, or it could be something else.


A bridge crosses an unnamed creek, then the trail climbs back up to the meadow we started in.


Three large bull bison are hanging out by the pond in the meadow, they must have moved in after we left for the lake edge. People have pulled their cars off the road and are walking out to get pictures of them, we warn them to keep their distance and need to strike off the trail ourselves a ways to keep the 25 yard rule.


It started out kind of rough, but turned out to be a really neat day for hiking. That evening, strong storms with a lot of lightning and hail roll through Yellowstone. I’m glad they waited.


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  1. Sheryl on August 22, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    Hi Becky
    You are having a wonderful summer. Thanks for sharing so much with us.
    When you get back to towns and traveling, stop and quick shop Goodwill for nylon pants. I’ve found brand names for a cheap price especially if the color is on half price! Have found Carhartt pants for winter also. Also shop Walmart clearance in Spring for markdowns on poly/nylon and fleece in active wear. Layering works well, fleece under nylon. I’ve found jeans and cottons weight more and take up more space than man made fibers. Now I only wear cotton t-shirt in summer. Shoes are really important–check out waterproof work boots as well as hikers, again you never know what you will find at Goodwill or REI markdowns.
    Keep trucking Girl and get the 100 miles.

    • Becky on August 23, 2015 at 10:59 am

      Yes Sheryl over half of my wardrobe came from Goodwill and I always look in their active wear section, but haven’t had any luck so far with pants. That’s just part of how thrift shopping goes – you never know what you’ll find. 🙂 Thanks for the tips!

  2. Jodee Gravel on August 22, 2015 at 9:36 am

    What a nice hike and the weather made for great photos. I enjoy some black and white days, especially during the summer when the bright sun becomes exhausting. We’ve been fortunate to miss the crowds in most places, but where we haven’t I can sure see how they can ruin the experience. We’ll likely avoid national parks next summer as well 🙂
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Are You Still a Year Older If There Isn’t Cake?My Profile

    • Becky on August 22, 2015 at 10:54 am

      Glad you’ve been able to dodge the worst of it Jodee, crowds can be exhausting. My favorite time in Yellowstone was the first month I was there. Weather was cold but you could have the boardwalks almost all to yourself. Just dress in layers. 🙂

      • pamelab on August 22, 2015 at 7:55 pm

        Becky –
        Your photos are wonderful. What a lovely place. I hope to see it someday. I have been to many places, but not there. I think it would be special to see the bison in the winter snow.
        My full-time RVing might still be about a year away. Kind of intimidated with all there is to know. I feel a lightweight trailer might be the best fit for me, and maybe a 16′ or 17′.
        Thank you for your very nice descriptions. So nice you have a chance to experience all this natural beauty.

  3. Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets on August 21, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    I like the very last photo the best. Very nice and sets the mood of the day. As everywhere around you and beyond seems to be cooking with 100+ temperatures (100-105 here), you should be appreciative of a walk in the rain. I envy you that. I don’t envy you the crowds and understand why next year you may choose something less populated.

    As for hiking gear, we too are gearing up at present. What you can get away with, say, in Yellowstone, won’t be nearly sufficient in more mountainous areas like Colorado where you can easily be above 12,000 feet.
    Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets recently posted..Tent CampingMy Profile

    • Becky on August 22, 2015 at 10:52 am

      I really liked that photo too Ed but it didn’t fit anywhere else in the post, hence why it ended up at the very bottom. 🙂

      And yes, I’d much rather have a light rain than 100+ degrees, yikes!

  4. green on August 18, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Re: Raingear

    Tip from an old girl…
    you can wear your thermals under a rainsuit or even your flannel jammies!
    The REI outlet is a good place to find one marked down.

    And you GO with that pink umbrella! A very good idea, unless it’s way windy.

    A hood is very important to prevent colds, flu, pneumonia…
    Carhartt makes great raingear.

    Happy trails,

    Oregon girl

    • Becky on August 18, 2015 at 9:58 pm

      Heya Green, thanks for the tips, I’ll keep that in mind when it’s time to go shopping. 🙂

  5. Terri on August 18, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    As always, beautiful pictures, Becky, and wonderful narrative to go with it. That one pic does look a lot like Maine – I can see why your friends thought that. I’ve just moved out to the Utah area to start working at the animal sanctuary and there are so many places to hike out here. I was going to ask your advice on shoes and then saw you use just regular tennis shoes. Good to know! (Especially since I’m now on a super budget!)

    I understand what you mean about the crowds at the park. I was at Zion the other day and just wanted to go on one of the walks/trails. There were so many people that i found it to be really annoying and can’t wait to go back at a later time this year when I don’t have to fight to just walk and observe the beauty of nature. You know what I mean? 🙂
    Terri recently posted..I’m Alive!!!My Profile

    • Becky on August 18, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      Glad to hear things are going well at Best Friends. Yes, the Kanab area is close to a lot of great hiking.

      Zion will stay busy into October, the cottonwoods will be changing sometime late October early November, and that’s a beautiful time to see the park. 🙂 Have fun!

  6. Jim Schmechel on August 18, 2015 at 11:58 am

    I really like the contrast of the tall straw colored prairie grasses with the dark blue stormy skies! I always hike in non-hiking gear, and usually it works OK. On really tough hikes it would be nice to have hiking boots.

    Thank you for sharing your life with us!
    Jim Schmechel recently posted..Farment MadisonMy Profile

    • Becky on August 18, 2015 at 9:43 pm

      You’re welcome Jim.

      Pants will be the next thing I buy, those special kind that breathe well and are quick drying – jeans get so sticky and hot when it’s warm out. After that maybe hiking boots…

  7. arthur on August 18, 2015 at 10:34 am

    Thanks for sharing. I enjoy your posts.

    You may want to check the white balance adjustment on your camera unless you wanted most of the pictures to be under exposed.

    • Becky on August 18, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      My camera is my iPhone 4S Arthur, it’s not sophisticated enough for white balance, haha. Glad you enjoyed this.

  8. Pamela b on August 18, 2015 at 3:38 am

    Hi, Becky – I can almost smell that fresh air when I see your photos. Enjoy your descriptions and seeing your miles add up. Great idea. Thanks.

    • Becky on August 18, 2015 at 9:39 pm

      The air did smell great that day. Just a day or two later we started getting smoke from the fires in Idaho and it’s not so nice now.

  9. Ron on August 17, 2015 at 10:19 pm


    • Becky on August 18, 2015 at 9:38 pm


  10. RGupnorth on August 17, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    Some of your images look like some areas of MI UP or Northern MN near Duluth. Being overcast helped provide that look. Are you going to take the drive from Cooke City over the beartooth to Red Lodge?

    • Becky on August 18, 2015 at 9:37 pm

      Yes RG, it’s on my list as is a trip to Jackson Hole. I’m thinking about doing one or the other this Thursday, but am waiting to decide until I see what the weather holds.

      • RGupnorth on August 19, 2015 at 8:10 pm

        If you can start out to do the beartooth before the wind picks up – the reflections on the lakes near the base starting out from Cooke City are really spectacular.

        • Becky on August 22, 2015 at 10:55 am

          Well, didn’t quite work as intended RG. You’ll see on today’s post.

  11. Kim on August 17, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    Great shot of the battling bison!
    Kim recently posted..Buena Vista, COMy Profile

    • Becky on August 18, 2015 at 9:36 pm

      I took about 10 photos of them but it was so bright out that day that I really couldn’t tell which was best until I got home and looked at them on the computer, hehe. Glad at least one came out well, most were pretty blurry.

  12. Rhonda on August 17, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Good day, Becky…as I sit in my comfy desk chair in my comfy house on top of a comfy hill in middle Tennessee I appreciate being whisked away to the lovely points of interest you provided today. “…more than a little forbidding” is the flavor of the photographs and an interesting side of Yellowstone to see. You are moving right along the Hiking Club Scale–you’ll be at the end before you know it. And then….off to more adventures! Yay!….can’t wait….:-)

    • Becky on August 18, 2015 at 9:35 pm

      So glad you enjoyed this Rhonda, it’s funny because when I’m out hiking and see something neat I think “my readers will want to know about this” so I take a picture. It’s like you all come with me on hikes in spirit if not in body. 🙂

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