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August 01, 2005

To West Yellowstone

August 1st. Todays journey was the real start of the holiday for me, off into the wilds. My initial plan was always to drive up the west side of the Grand Tetons

August 3rd. Todays journey was the real start of the holiday for me, off into the wilds. My initial plan was always to drive up the west side of the Grand Tetons. I have visited the eastern side of the Tetons twice and looked forward to seeing them from their other flank.

After having it recommended to me I had purchased the National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anybody who enjoys scenic road trips. To my delight, on this section from Idaho Falls to West Yellowstone I could take in two of the recommended routes:- the Big Hole Mountains Drive (page 259 for those of you with the book) and the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway (page 260).

We set off east from Idaho Falls on US 26 until we got to Swan Valley then we headed north into the Big Hole Mountains on route 31. Not stunning jaw dropping scenery but an extremely pleasant drive along the rim of Pine Creek Canyon, down into the Pine Creek Valley before climbing out and over Pine Creek Pass. We descended down into the broad flat farmland of the Teton Valley.

This part of the day was a little anti climatic for me as I had anticipated being wowed by the Tetons away to the east. However, the peaks just 'peeked over' the foothills, we were much further away than I had anticipated. We drove on through the rolling farmland and small towns, stopping off to buy some sandwiches for lunch.

At the northern end of the Teton Basin we took route 47 east at Ashton for the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway. You first come to the turnout for the Lower Mesa Falls. A short walk from the car park brings you to a wonderful overlook showing the crashing Lower Falls way down below. A mile or so further along the road is the turn off to the Upper Mesa Falls. Here the car park is down in the valley close to the falls and its quite a drive down the switchbacks on the steep canyon sides.

These falls are magnificent and you can get really close to them on the well maintained paths and walkways. Without the National Geographic guidebook we would never have found this spot, it was worth the price for this place alone. Walking back past the old Lodge my boys were pointed to a 'spotting scope' (at least I think thats what the man called it). Peering through the stubby telescope on a tripod we were all delighted to take turns at seeing an Ospreys nest complete with baby Ospreys being fed. A Lovely spot to sit and eat our lunch.

Onwards we went to West Yellowstone checking in to our hotel in time for the boys to have a play in the park opposite and then have a swim while I found a supermarket and stocked up with beer (a mans got to drink hasn't he ?). That evening we wandered around the town (very touristy, but then again we were tourists). We decided to go to the Imax cinema but the last show had already started whenh we got there. We had a meal in a small Chinese restaurant and hit the sack.

Posted by Graham on August 1, 2005 01:38 PM
Category: 2005 Going to Glacier ?
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