Saturday, October 15 – Time to head south.
Being from the south, we’d say winter has arrived in this part of Montana. For the locals, it’s simply a fall preview of what’s to come. Either way, it’s time for us to leave. In the past two weeks, it has snowed a few times and the roads in Yellowstone National Park are closing for the season. We come here every fall and usually leave by the first of October. This year, we’ve decided to stay longer but having to monitor forecasts for snow in the mountain passes has us worried. Going due south is not an option. The snow in the Grand Tetons and Jackson WY is worse so we’ve decided to head east where the mountains disappear and the elevation drops.
Yellowstone empties out.
The great thing about being in Yellowstone this late is having the park to ourselves. Most of the lodges, campgrounds and restaurants have closed. The roads are virtually empty save for a few diehards like us.
We’ve been staying at Yellowstone RV Park, the only RV park in Gardiner MT to remain open during the month of October. A fellow camper told us about grizzly bears along Tom Miner Road, just a few miles north of here. On each trip, we saw the same two grizzlies. They looked to be a year or two old and must be siblings.
While watching the grizzly pair on our last trip, a nearby cow mooed at the grizzlies as if to say, “back off”. It must have worked since the grizzlies took off running.
We spent our mornings driving around Yellowstone National Park. We did see wolves on many of our trips but they were too far away to get good photos. Other animals were much more cooperative.
On to North Dakota.
We’re headed to Texas for the holidays but instead of taking the shortest route and encountering snow, we decided to detour through North Dakota. It’s the only state we’ve never visited and it will give us an opportunity to see Theodore Roosevelt National Park, bringing our total of national parks visited to 35 leaving only 24 more to go.
The southern unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park lies in western North Dakota and is conveniently located just off Interstate 94. Instead of staying in the national park campground, we opted to stay at Sully Creek State Park, a few miles from the southern entrance. Both parks have big-rig friendly primitive campgrounds and are opened year round but Sully Creek offers a dump station.
We drove the national park’s 36 mile long scenic loop. Along the way, we saw bison, deer, prairie dogs and feral horses. The park also contains elk and bighorn sheep.
Herds of feral horses graze throughout the park. Their numbers are kept in check through a combination of birth control and adoption of colts.