Today we are NOT going into Yellowstone as we did the previous days. Instead we drive north on HWY 191 towards Big Sky. The HWY leads for about 20 miles through Yellowstone National Park though and this is the part we came to see – now we are in Wyoming. The road follows a river along which moose have been seen. We keep our eyes open and even stop to check with the binoculars, but no luck, unfortunately. We drive almost all the way to Big Sky, but turn around once we realize that there are more and more houses and “civilization” rather than “wilderness”.
On the way back south we turn right into HWY 287 – we are back in Montana – and first drive along Hebgen Lake with all its beautiful and expensive lake side properties. Just a few miles after the dam we see the next lake: Quake Lake – this lake came into existence after a 7.5 earthquake in 1959 when half the mountain came down and closed the valley and the Madison river could no longer pass through. Meanwhile the lake is 4 miles long and 120 feet (36 Meters) deep. Even more than 50 years later tree trunks are still sticking out of the water.
We turn into HWY 87 south and a few miles later take a right turn into Antelope Basin Road – the dirt road leads over a hill into a basin, with a little lake. There we see some beautiful aspen trees, and cows while going for a short walk. When we return to the car we meet a local guy from Bozeman, who recommends a nice drive over the mountains, along the Continental Divide to Henry’s Lake. We take his advice and return to the HWY and, on the way up the hill we see some Antelopes lying in the grass – now we know why it’s called Antelope basin. Once in Idaho we take the first dirt road to the right. Indeed the 12 miles up the hill, through patches of forests over mountain meadows with green, yellow, golden, and red aspen trees, are breathtaking and the views are amazing! But, we don’t see any animals. We are not too surprised though because the local guy told us that hunting season has started and the animals retreated back into the higher mountains.
We find our way to Henry’s Lake and then back to West Yellowstone. After this dirt road our car deserves a car wash, which it gets before we head into Yellowstone National Park through the regular entrance to view the sunset. We only drive about 10 miles into the park and then turn into the Riverside Drive where we stay until the sun set.
The tour today gave us a good impression of how countryside Idaho and Montana looks like and how people live here and we have to admit that we really liked what we saw. The winters might be long and sometimes harsh but the life up here is completely different from what we know from Southern California. Although we love the ocean, the variety and beauty nature offers up here is breathtaking and hard to beat – it is in strong contrast to the desert like environment and the hectic crowded city we have been living in for the last few years – this is a different world!
After a quick “dinner” at Kentucky Fried Chicken we head back the hotel.