Today we decided to focus our energy on choosing activities close to our base in Gardiner, MT instead of driving two and a half hours to the more well-known attractions of Yellowstone. It was a wise decision. We left the crowds behind.
We stopped at a convenience store first to gas up the vans and to let the boys get their lunch from Subway to take with us. They definitely like this as a big change of having a trail lunch.
Our first stop was at the Petrified Tree, just about 30 minutes out of Gardiner. Some boys read the interpretive sign about how the tree came to be petrified and others just enjoyed walking around the fenced-in area.
Our second activity stop was at Tower Falls where the group hiked to a view of the falls. That was only about 175 yards. Then most decided to continue to hike to the Yellowstone River below and followed the trail along the river for a couple of miles. A big treat was getting a chance to see mountain goats high up on the side of the mountain. The group included four babies. It was a perfect time to pull out binoculars and a few boys got some amazing photos. They had that Subway lunch down by the river.
We returned to the trailhead to continue our van journey down about five minutes to Tower Junction where we made a stop at Roosevelt Lodge. This is probably the smallest “lodge” accommodations in Yellowstone National Park. I’ve stayed in the tiny Rough Rider cabins that have been a part of this “lodge” area for more than half a century. That always brings back fond memories of the many trips I’ve taken to Yellowstone. We bought the boys an ice cream treat for having such great attitudes during the Tower Falls hike. I was treated to a group hug from the boys, which was a much-appreciated surprise. Actually, it’s never happened before.
From Roosevelt Lodge we drove a few more minutes to the trailhead to Wraith Falls. This was just a ½ mile hike each way on relatively flat terrain. The 90 ft. falls were beautiful and we were very excited to see otters playing in the pools below the falls.
Finally, we drove the final 20 minutes back into Gardiner and stopped on the way to the hotel to have dinner at the “famous” K-Bar. Pizza is the specialty of the house and the boys enjoyed the atmosphere of the old west in this well-known local establishment. Many played a game of pool while waiting for their pizza. Stopping here has been a MTA tradition for at least the past four trips.
Finally, we let the boys walk around the shops for a few minutes before having them pose for a couple of group photos.
On a side note, today we challenged the boys to get to know someone they didn’t really know before this trip. They had to interview their person and learn at least five facts about him. This was their meal ticket for dinner. We had the boys tell us about their new friends before we allowed them to eat dinner. It was great to see the boys at least try to get to know someone they didn’t know before. We may do this again.
And finally, we saw lots of animals today to add to our life lists. Today’s sightings included: bald eagles, elk, pronghorn antelopes, mountains goats, bison, otter, mule deer, and a coyote.
It was another wonderful day.
Click the link below to see photos from today's activities.