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Monday, September 24, 2012

                  September 3, 2012 to September 15, 2012

Jackson, Wyoming Airport
Jackson, Wyoming at the Snow King Resort to Grand Teton National Park at the Signal Mountain Lodge to Yellowstone National Park at Yellowstone Lake Lodge to Cody, Wyoming at the K3 Guest Ranch  to Buffalo, Wyoming at the Occidental Hotel to Keystone, South Dakota  at the White House Lincoln Chalet ending in Rapitd City, South Dakota at the Hampton Inn and Suites.

Our trip started with a flight into Jackson, Wyoming landing in the above airport in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  The airport is the only airport in a National Park, residing in the Grand Teton National Park.  The entry from the airport was through an arch of elk antlers as shown above.  We saw a number of arches like this as the local boy scout troops collect the antlers from an elk preserve in the National Forest each season.  Once the arches were built they started selling the antlers every year.  

Snow King Resort Jackson, Wyoming

The first three nights we stayed in a condominium at the Snow King Resort which is a couple of miles from downtown Jackson.  In the next picture showing more antler arches entering into a park downtown you can see the ski trails down through the mountain.  These trails are part of Snow King and our condo was on the bottom of the mountain.

After checking into Snow King we went downtown Jackson and walked around hoping to see a reenactment of a gunfight. Unfortunately we waited for a few minutes and it was announced that the gunfight was cancelled and was closed for the season.  Jackson, Wyoming is a very western town.  A lot of shops and stores selling western clothing, art and home decor. 

Jackson, Wyoming city park entrance of Elk horns and in the background Snow King Mountain Resort where we stayed.

A stagecoach is available to ride through the streets of Jackson.

The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar has a huge bar covered in Silver Dollars. 

On the second day we went to Teton Village 12 miles outside of Jackson.  It is a world famous ski resort. The only way to the summit of 10,450-foot Rendezvous Mountain is aboard one of two 63-passenger Aerial Tram cars.  We rode the tram to the top of the Mountain Range.  The wind blew like crazy and it was a little cool at the top.  The views of Jackson and the surrounding valley is very pretty from the top of the Mountain.


Susie and Rob at the top of the Teton Mountain Range with the peak of Rendezvous Mountain in the background.

That evening we attended a Chuck wagon Dinner.  The ride into the Cache Canyon of the Grand Teton National Park was about 30 minutes long.  We rode alongside a spring fed creek through a heavily treed forest. Along the way we were part of a skit of which Indians attacked our wagon train and they were chased away by our wagon master and some of his crew.  We were served barbecue chicken and pork, beans, corn, salad and brownies under a huge canopy tent.  Entertainment was a 4 piece Western band singing many old Western  tunes.  It was a fun evening and very entertaining.   

Susie boarding our wagon.

Two of the Indians watching our wagon train as we rode up the trail to Cache Canyon.

There were about 10 wagons in our wagon train. 


The next day we took a 3 hour float trip down the Snake River just outside of Jackson, Wyoming.  We were served lunch under a tent at the end of the ride and then driven back to town to pick up our car.  The weather was great and we saw a number of eagles and osprey.

Left to Right:  Rob, Susie, Connie and Henry on our float trip on the Snake River just outside Jackson, Wyoming.
  The drive through the Grand Teton Pass is full of switch backs and curves. Many inclines and declines up the Mountain Range.  Once at the top you come to the Wyoming/Idaho border. We were told that when the pioneers crossed this pass it took 21 days.  We drove it in about a half hour.


Looking through Grand Teton Pass, Jackson is below in the Valley.  
The next morning we headed to Signal Mountain Lodge on Jackson Lake. On the way we stopped at the visitor center in Moose, Wyoming. 
 We stayed at the Signal Mountain Lodge 3 evenings taking day trips around the area.   The Grand Teton mountains were across Jackson Lake.  The sunrises were pretty but the most beautiful colors came at sunset.  The cabin included a living, dining and kitchen, bedroom and bath. Sitting out on the balcony was very nice and the views across the lake toward the mountains was spectacular. The Lodge is a very comfortable place with a restaurant, grill, the main lodge, gift shop, marina and convenience store.  On most days the weather cooperated, however there seemed to always be a haze in the air as you can tell by some of the pictures.  We were quite fortunate as we had talked to people who had visited the Grand Teton area and they said the haze and smoke from fires in Idaho and Colorado blocked the views completely. 
  Our daily outings took us all around the Grand Teton National Forest.  There are numerous mapped drives for you to enjoy.  Additionally, there are a number of look outs to stop at and enjoy the views.  We saw a lot of wild life in the Grand Teton National Forest, Elk, Antelope, Wolf and hundreds of Buffalo.

Signal Mountain Lodge

Signal Mountain Lodge in the Grand Teton National Forest, cabin we stayed in on the second floor to the right, Henry and Connie was on the left, nice wrap around balcony.

Sunset the first night at Signal Mountain Lodge.

Sunrise the next morning at Signal Mountain Lodge


Susie sitting in the living area, looking out at the Mountains and Jackson Lake at Signal Mountain Lodge.

Susie at Jenny Lake in the Grand Teton National Park

Rob at Jenny Lake in the Grand Teton National Park

Mountain Range on the Jenny Lake loop Grand Teton National Park

Above two pictures, the tallest peak in the middle is the Grand Teton Mountain from the Jenny Lake Loop in the park.

The rustic log Chapel of the Transfiguration sits on a rise just within the southern entrance of Grand Teton National Park. A large window behind its altar frames the magnificent beauty of the Teton Mountain Range.

The church is miles from any town.  The bell had a nice tone and it echoed through the park. The two stain glass windows below are in the church.

Stain Glass windows in the Chapel of Transfiguration

The church was out in the middle of no where.  A very tranquil, peaceful place with hand made pews and tables.  You could see the detail of the hand planed wood all throughout the church.

The reflections in the water on both of these pictures are beautiful.

We stopped at this location as we were told a Moose had been seen here, we did not see any wildlife, on any of our visits to this location.

Coulter Bay Marina Jackson Lake, Wyoming

L to R:  Rob Susan Connie Henry at Coulter Bay Jackson Lake, Wyoming

Off Hwy 191 Grand Teton National Park

Antelope of Hwy 191

This picture and the one below is of a small buffalo herd alongside the highway 191.


The Cunningham Cabin stands as one of the valley’s few remaining structures from the homesteading era when settlers filed nearly 400 claims in Jackson Hole.

Snake River lookout in the Grand Teton National Park
Looking out of the Main Lodge at Signal Mountain the morning we checked out headed for Yellowstone National Forest.

Visitor Center
  The next part of our trip was to head to Yellowstone National Forest.  On the trip to Yellowstone Lake and the Lake Lodge we decided to spend the afternoon driving to Yellowstone and spending the afternoon at the Old Faithful Geyser and Visitor Center.

Entering Yellowstone National Park via the South Gate.  Henry and Connie on left and Susan and Rob on the right.

The Continental Divide where on one side of the divide the rivers flow to the Gulf of Mexico and on the other side they flow to the Pacific Ocean.

L to R Rob, Susan, Connie, Henry

Old Faithful

The Old Faithful Geyser eerupted about 3:45 pm while we were there.

Old Faithful Inn, the Inn was booked so we did not get to stay here.

The Lake Lodge at Yellowstone Lake includes the main lobby, bar, two large sitting areas and fireplaces, gift shop and cafeteria.

The bar and sitting area next to one of the two fireplaces in the lodge.
The cabins we stayed in while in Yellowstone National Forest

 We spent our second day with this boat tour and then sight seeing the drive along the Eastern and North eastern part of Yellowstone.  We saw buffalo, otters, ducks, elk  and fish during the second day.  We drove up to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and saw beautiful scenery and the Upper and Lower Falls. Later that day we went to the West Thumb area of the park and saw a small geyser field and got up close to a cow and bull elk.

Looking across Yellowstone Lake view from the Lake Lodge where we stayed in a cabin.
 Buffalo grazing alongside the Yellowstone River.  The park rangers estimated there to be over 4500 Buffaloes in the park.

Trout in the Yellowstone River taken from a bridge named the Fishing Bridge

The Marina and at the end of the pier a tour boat that we went on for a Yellowstone Lake sight seeing tour.  We spent our second day with this boat tour and then sight seeing the drive along the Eastern and North eastern part of Yellowstone.

Buffalo walking right beside the car.  The sometimes block the road and there is no moving them, you have to wait for them to decide to move out of the way.
A family of otters playing alongside Yellowstone River

We saw a number of fisherman in the Yellowstone River

Lunch on one of our sight seeing trips.  We at many of our lunches while on the trip at very pretty sights.  There are numerous picnic areas all through the Teton and Yellowstone Parks.

 There were several waterfalls along the road.
Upper Falls Yellowstone National Park

This picture and the one below, The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park.

West Thumb area geysers alongside Yellowstone Lake

A cow elk inside the West Thumb area of Yellowstone, we heard a Bull Elk Bugle here.
As we headed back to the Cabin we saw this bull Elk laying on the beach of the Yellowstone Lake

The Bull Elk got up and I followed him down the beach where he met up with 3 more elk.
As we returned to our cabin we passed the Yellowstone Lake Lodge cabins and the buffalo were laying around all over the place.
We left Yellowstone National Park out the East entrance toward Cody, Wyoming our next stop and overnight stay on our trip.  The road was primarily down hill, the weather began to get much hotter as we went down into Cody.  Our first stop and tour was the Buffalo Bill Dam on the Shoshone River just west of Cody, Wyoming.

Scenery between Yellowstone National park and Cody, Wyoming

Buffalo Bill Dam which dams the Shoshone River just west of Cody, Wyoming.

Standing on Buffalo Bill Dam looking West

Standing on the Buffalo Bill dam near the visitor center looking west

We drive from the dam and as we entered Cody we toured the Old Trail Town collection consisting of  26  buildings which date from 1879 to 1901, one hundred horse-drawn vehicles, plus an extensive collection of Native American artifacts and memorabilia of the Wyoming frontier. Native American artifacts are representative of Shoshone, Gros Ventre, and Crow indian culture and heritage. Old Trail Town interprets the American West and Wyoming's colorful western past with its buildings and extensive collection of treasured memorabilia reflecting live on the Wyoming Frontier as well as the lives of many of Wyoming's colorful historical figures. These include John "Jeremiah" Liver Eating" Johnston, Jim White "Buffalo Hunter," Phillip Vitter, a trapper killed by a grizzly bear, W.A. Gallagher and Blind Bill, cowboys murdered in 1894. Of course, the story of the West is incomplete without the mention of Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy, outlaws, and Curry, General Custer's Crow Indian scout, and General Custer Himself.

Old Trail Town in Cody, Wyoming
Old Trail Town, Cody, Wyoming
After touring the Old Trail Town we drove through Cody, Wyoming arriving at the K3 guest ranch where we spent two evenings there.  This is a very Western / Indian decorated guest ranch.  The host Jerry Kincaid is a local Cody, Wyoming native and is a real character full of fun and a lot of good stories.

The driveway to K3 Guest Ranch in this picture and the picture below.

Looking from the K3 Guest Ranch toward Cody, Wyoming

Susie and I stayed in the Teton Room, each guest room had a theme.

Our room was located in the center of the Ranch house just behind the balcony overlooking the Tee Pee cooking area where we ate breakfast one morning, the next morning was too cool to eat outside so we ate in the downstairs dining area.

Looking out of our room over the balcony

Living area just outside our room

While we were in Cody, we saw an  old west Gun fight in town, rode outside of Cody to see some wild horses, Susie and Connie toured some of the mueseums and Henry and I went to a Taxidermy shop owned by some of my family friends and we took a trolley tour of Cody, Wyoming and the surrounding area.  We also went to the Dan Miller Western Review where we listened to many old western tunes.

The next 3 pictures are the cast of the gun fight we saw next to the Historic Irma Hotel in downtown Cody, Wyoming.

The Historic Irma Hotel named after Buffal Bills daughter, we ate dinner here one night prior to going to the Dan Miller Western Review.

Statue of Buffalo Bill Cody in Cody, Wyoming
 Our tour out to see the wild horses was very entertaining.  We did not have to ride very long to find them,  we were told one other group took up to 4 hours to find the horses.  We were lucky and found them quickly once we arrived in this area about 15 miles out of Cody, Wyoming.  The following pictures show some of the horses we saw.  We were also lucky to be able to see a few hour old philly in the 4th horse picture down.  They named the baby horse 9/11 as we saw him hours into his birthday 9/11/2012. 

We coiuld tell the philly was just a few hours old as her mother, to her left back legs were discolored from the birth of the baby horse.  The baby was also very wobbly and kept lying down every few mninutes.

Antelope were very abundant on the K3 Guest Ranch, there were also a number of Mule Deer.

From left to right; Susan, Rob, Jerry Kincaid and his dog, Divit, Henry and Connie
The bowlegged crew

Jerry Kincaid our host  and owner of  the  K3 Guest Ranch  waiving so long, see you again as we left Cody, Wyoming and headed to Buffalo, Wyoming
 We left Cody, Wyoming headed to Buffalo, Wyoming for a planned stop for the evening in the Historic Occidental Hotel which opened in 1880.  On the way to Buffalo we stopped in a town by the name of Ten Sleep, Wyoming, the picture below explains how the town got its name.
 Buffalo is a very small town consisting of a few stores on main street of which most were closed for the winter season.
 Susie and I stayed in the Herbert Hoover room number 55.  A picture in the room reflected he had spent two weeks in the same room in 1932.

The town of Ten Sleep,Wyoming

Mountain Range we drove throgh from Cody to Buffalo, Wyoming

Occidental Hotel Buffalo, Wyoming  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid stayed here under alias names

Creek running beside our hotel room in Buffalo,Wyoming

President Herbert Hoover in the Hotel Lobby in 1932

Susie and I stayed in room #55

This and the below picture is of the Occidental Hotel Lobby

Our bedroom in the Occidental Hotel, we had a separate sitting room and bath room.

 We left Buffalo headed to Keystone, South Dakota our destination to tour the Crazy Horse mounument and Mt Rushmore National Monument.

Along the way we drove to see the Devils Tower National Monument, a unique and striking geologic wonder steeped in Indian legend, is a modern day national park and climbers' challenge. Devils Tower sits across the state line in northeast Wyoming. The Tower is a solitary, stump-shaped granite formation that looms 1,267 feet above the tree-lined Belle Fourche River Valley, like a skyscraper in the country. Once hidden below the earth’s surface, erosion has stripped away the softer rock layers revealing the Tower.  It is our nations first monument designated as a monument in 1906.  We visited the Crazy Horse Monument spending a number of hours going through the North American Indian Mueseum and Crazy Horse Museum and Gift Shop.  We saw a movie depicting the history of this monument.  It was started in 1948 and continues to be carved by the same family.  This monument is huge, they showed a movie placing the total Mt. Rushmore Monument in the head of Crazy Horse.  What we saw is over 60 years of work with so much yet to do.  Maybe our grandchildren will see it finished?
Devils Tower National Monument Wyoming

Crazy Horse Monument near Keystone, South Dakota

The sculpture's model with the Monument in the background depicting what the final Crazy Horse Monument will look like when finished.

A pictue of a poster depicting the final Crazy Horse Mounument.

After visiting Crazy Horse we stopped at a grocery store and fixed a very nice dinner at the Lincoln Chalet.  We had been eating out the whole trip, a home cooked meal hit the spot.  After dinner we headed to Mt Rushmore for the lighting ceremony.  The ceremony lasted from 8pm to 9pm.  A Forest Ranger gave a talk, we watched a movie of the history of the Monument, that started gradually lighting the monument as  The Star Spangled Banner played.  When the Monument was totally lit the Forest Ranger invited the Veterans in the audience to come to the stage so he and all in attendance could pay honor to the Veterans present.  As I walked on the stage the Ranger asked me to participate in lowering and folding the American Flag flying at the base of the Monument ending the nights ceremony.  This moment, the lowering and folding of the flag ending the ceremony was such a great feeling of pride to be an American.

When we arrived just before 8pm the state flags were lit.  Mt Rushmore was dark.

Mt Rushmore after the lighting ceremony.
 The next to the last day we went back to Rushmore visiting the Museum and took a guided Park Ranger tour around the base of the Mountain.  It was a great tour and very informative.  We spent the afternoon in Keystone eating lunch and shopping in the many gift shops along the main street through Keystone, South Dakota.,
View of Mt Rushmore from the Cabin we stayed while in Keystone, South Dakota.  The White House Lincoln Chalet. 

Mt Rushmore September 14, 2012

We drove to Rapid City just 22 miles away and spent the night by the airport.  The next morning we flew home arriving around 3pm.  It was a great trip.


Carol said...

WOW Uncle Robert, what a wonderful trip! Thank you for sharing your vacation, love the history and the scenery is gorgeous. Love to you both!

bianca said...

What a trip! I bet you guys had a lovely vacation to reminisce in the coming months. Having gone to all of these parks is an activity that's totally fun and exciting. Backpacking and hiking in Montana or tripping to Yellowstone is must-haves during perfect weather. These are the spots that should not be missed when opting for guided hikes.