There are few things in life that are as exciting as waking up in Sheridan, Wyoming to start a road trip out to see Cody, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone National Park has to be one of my favorite National Parks to visit.
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Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
Traveling North for about one hour, we came to our next stop – Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Being from the South and not a history buff, I did not know much about the battle between the U.S Army’s 7th Cavalry and the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians.
We spent about two hours here, first going straight to the visitor center to hear one of the ranger talks. Luckily this was a very mild day, and we sat outside on some benches while we listened to the Rangers give a detailed talk of the battlefield. After the talk, we hopped in our car and followed along with a cell phone tour, which entailed of 30 stops. Visiting Little Bighorn Battlefield was one of the more educational tours on the trip. Going to this National Monument spurred a lot of conversation about the Native Americans and what they went through to claim land in America.
Custer Battlefield Trading Post
After leaving Little Bighorn, we went right across the street to visit Custer Battlefield Trading Post. This shop/restaurant was unique and sold a lot of Native American trinkets and gifts. After shopping, we ordered lunch – a Crow Indian Taco and a Bear Paw. Both items are on something called Fry Bread which, to me, tastes like an enormous beignet without the powdered sugar. Usually, Fry Bread is served with Honey so once the family was done eating all the savory items out of the Indian Taco, they poured honey on the leftover crust for a delicious dessert! The three of us could have just split one Crow Indian Taco since the Taco is huge.
After lunch, we hit the road to see Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. Now – when you are going on a national tours trip, make sure you read all the websites carefully! I read that Bighorn Canyon is open all year round; however, I did NOT read that Yellowtail Dam Visitor Center is ONLY open from Memorial Day through Labor Day and that there wasn’t a road to get to the rest of the Rec Area would be closed. Whoops!
We didn’t get to see the actual Canyon area (or wild horses like a couple we met in Yellowstone saw) but we were able to see a damn. I’m not that excited about dams, but the gentleman that I met was upset he didn’t get to see the damn.
After viewing the Yellowtail Dam and Bighorn Lake, there wasn’t much left to do so we hit the road and made our way to Cody where we would spend the night.
Cody and Old Trail Town
Cody is an adorable town, and if I could re-do this trip in any way, it would be to spend two nights in Cody instead of one. They have an amazing museum, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, that we did not go to, but everyone in this area recommended the museum.
After waking up in Cody, the family was excited because we were FINALLY going to see Yellowstone! But before we could enter the park, we visited Old Trail Town. At $9 a piece, this “ghost town” was enjoyable and interesting to tour. I would say that this tour was about 90% handicapable, some areas were very patchy, or gravel and the restrooms were not handicapable. The log cabins in this area were all brought to this one location to help preserve the lifestyle and history of the Wild Wild West. The most interesting thing to me was seeing The River’s Saloon and Hole in the Wall Cabin and hear the stories of Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and other outlaws.
Last Chance – Yellowstone National Park
Moments before we enter Yellowstone National Park we make sure to fill up with gas at a gas station boasting about “Last Chance for Gas” and stop to view the Buffalo Bill Dam. This dam was one of the first concrete dams in the United States and well worth the 30-minute pit stop! Our first stop was Lehardy Rapids. We were excited to finally be in the park that we immediately pulled over and walked the 1/4th-mile loop. It was wonderful to be out in nature and just enjoying the rapids.
Naturally, our second stop in Yellowstone was the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center, where we rested for a bit before tackling the great unknown of Yellowstone.
On day one of Yellowstone, we visited a lot of the more sulfur, thermal areas of the park. In this area, we visited the Mud Volcano, Sulphur Caldron, Artist Point, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Lamar Valley, and the Petrified Tree.
Even though the Mud Volcano trail is 3/4th of a mile it is not very handicapable. We followed the directions of the guide and my sister and I were able to manage with the wheelchair, but I would not recommend going around this loop with someone in a manual wheelchair. It is quite intense to see the different geothermal features like the Black Dragon’s Cauldron and Sizzling Basin and to think that all of the visitors are just sitting over a dormant caldera.
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Our next major stop was the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Since at this point I hadn’t seen the Grand Canyon yet, this was quite breathtaking to see this vast landmass carved out by a waterfall and river. We were able to view the Canyon from Artist Point and Lookout Point (off of North Rim Drive). We spent a lot of time at Artist Point because they had an accessible observation platform to view the Canyon and falls.
I, foolishly, read to my sister that the Northeastern region is the least visited area of the park, and she insisted that we squeeze it in to see. We took the winding roads up Mount Washburn to see the Petrified Tree and Tower Fall. Both spots were very easy to access because we could easily see both attractions from the road.
After seeing the Petrified Tree – we visited Lamar Valley to see if we could see any wildlife in the area. After about an hour of seeking wolves, we decided that we were hungry and wanted to check into our cabin in West Yellowstone. Traveling all the way to the park, we ran into our first herd of buffalo! There were about 45 Buffalo just clogging traffic and walking down the road as if they were in a parade. After they had passed, we stopped by Old Town Café for some dinner.
Huckleberry Everything in Yellowstone
The dinner was a-okay but the best thing we got was everything, Huckleberry! Huckleberry pie, huckleberry ice cream, huckleberry margarita and huckleberry salad dressing!
That night we checked into our cabin, about 15 minutes out of town, where we heard wild wolfs howling throughout the night. Luckily we did not spot them!
Yellowstone National Park is one of those destinations that I can return to every year. Did you know that most tourists only see 1% of the entire park? My mission is to try to beat that statistic.
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