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kirstenjet 9 Aug 19 06:53 PM

Bear Bums and Dino Bones Road Trip - Day 8 Bison Jams
Had a check on the weather at 5am as was intending an early start but snow everywhere said go back to bed. Snow on Summer Solstice is not something I would have predicted!

Tried again at 9am and it was beginning to melt so had a repack of cases (so we only had to bring one case in as swapping hotels every night).

Had a walk to the visitor centre to ask about the conditions of the roads, everywhere was open and expected to be fine but there was a chance of more snow in the afternoon. That put a dampner on all our plans as though I love driving, I hate driving in snow. Decided to go have breakfast at hotel and have a think. We went with Obsidian Lounge and the buffet as I'd read good things about it. It was pretty disappointing much like the rest of the food in Yellowstone.

Decided the best thing to do was just spend the day heading to Gardiner, I was already pretty nervous about a part of the drive just before Mammoth called Golden Gate. It has quite big drop offs and with no barrierat times. I had prepared myself to do it but driving it on icy roads or while snowing was putting me on edge. We had to get to Gardiner no matter what as we had a private wildlife tour booked from there the next day.

We hadn't got very far when we realised the cars on the other side of the road had stopped and suddenly there was a large herd of bison running towards us! There must have been about a hundred or so with about 20 babies, it was the most wonderful experience, some of them inches from the car. This was one the of the things I'd really hoped to happen so I was thrilled :grin:

Just past Madison junction, about half hour after our bison experience, we got caught in traffic for about an hour, hardly moving. One of the cars going in the opposite direction told us it was a bison jam and that was just about the best reason to be stuck I've ever heard. By the time we got through it we could see a couple in the forest but that was it.

We kept stopping at pullouts to scan for wildlife in the list of places I had that bears frequent but nope, all hiding. Didn't matter as everywhere was fascinating and beautiful to look at!

When we reached Swan Flats the nerves kicked in as I knew the drop offs were just ahead. There's a waterfall with pullout just before but as I knew it had views of the road ahead I insisted we stopped another day. Keeping at a steady 20mph (limit is 25mph on this section so not as slow as it sounds) I managed to it, with lots of controlled breathing and talking to myself. It's over in less than 5 mins but it seemed like half an hour. But it was done, I hadn't freaked out and we made it to Mammoth! The sky was turning black in the distance so we didn't stop until we reached Gardiner and the Roosevelt Arch.

We were checked in at Big Rock Inn and I was pleasantly surprised as it's a budget hotel (when 200 is budget, it's saying something), it was huge with a sofa and coffee table, fridge, microwave etc.

There were seats outside and I couldn't moan about the view of Electric Peak straight out the door

We took a stroll through town and stopped to enjoy the Yellowstone River before heading to Wonder Cafe for dinner of Waygu Steak as I felt deserved a celebatory treat for making it there :d: Looks plain but it was delicious!

Yellowstone River in Gardiner

Had an early night back at hotel as we had to be up at 4am the next day for one of the 2 days the whole trip had been planned around - the private guided wildlife tour to look for wolves and bears :happy:

mickeymouseears 10 Aug 19 08:40 AM

Wow the bisons must have been an incredible experience !
Loving the trip report !

anji 10 Aug 19 09:31 AM

You were so lucky to see the bison like that! :) Looking forward to tomorrow!

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