Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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Sunrise at Two Medicine Lake I was up with the sun, and this was obviously worth it because the surrounding mountains were literally glowing with the early morning colours. I quickly left my camp site and drive the short distance to a spot overlooking Two Medicine Lake. I took quite a few shots of the lake and surrounding mountains, and also tried to do a few panoramas; but it turned out the lake was big enough to have waves that were significant enough to later make stitching these panoramas a challenge.

My main plan for the day was to get to Yellowstone National Park. I'd selected a route that wasn't the most direct, but instead would take me over scenic byways. My research had been incomplete however, because I had not been aware that Beartooth Highway was closed at some point because of a rock slide. I still got to drive the approach through valley on Highway 212, then parked close to the road closure sign where there were interpretative signs and photos showcasing the rock slide and what had happened to the road high above. The big Sigma zoom came in handy here to also get my own pictures of what had gone on, a good reminder that many of the roads in these parts that you drive on and take for granted actually require a lot of maintenance and can easily become impassable.

I therefore had to retrace my steps. First, I drove back north to Red Lodge, then east on SR 308, south into Wyoming on SR 72, and then I joined SR 296 - also known as Chief Joseph Scenic Drive. This scenic drive was very nice as well, to the extent that I wonder if it wasn't even the better option; especially since I'd rejoin Beartooth Highway before the Yellowstone park entrance anyway. Because of the time it had taken me to get to SR 296, the sun had already started to set. Since the sky was perfectly blue, I encountered one nice photo stop after another. First there were some red cliffs - a change from all the gray or brown rock I'd seen in past days - accented by pale green meadows and dark green pines.

My camp site along Chief Joseph Scenic Highway I drove on, and at some point passed an European RV with German license plates - they'd certainly come a long way. Further on, the grass had ceased to be green but was more like golden. I stopped a few times, and had started to look for possible camping spots. I wasn't having much luck, initially - there were one or two Forest Service campgrounds that were both small and fully occupied already. I didn't mind much, but hoped that I'd be able to find something before entering Yellowstone (which I guessed would be busier still).

I finally managed to find a camping spot with maybe half an hour of sunlight left. It wasn't anything official, just a small dead-end dirt track next to the highway. An old RV was already parked on one end, so I backed into the other end, maybe two hundred yards distant. The spot was quite scenic, close to a river, but when I briefly ventured outside to take in the last rays of sun I was quickly chased back into the car by a fairly large amount of mosquitoes that seened to be out in full force.

Miles driven: 555mi (893km)

Campground Accommodation: Primitive camping (Chief Joseph Scenic Highway): $0

Written February 16th 2008 on flight AF 062 from Paris to Los Angeles