At the end of June, I had the opportunity to go to Billings for a job. I was on the edge of my seat with excitement of going somewhere new and doing something almost by myself. My friends S came along to help drive, but she didn’t drive and that’s a whole different story.
The adventure started with a nearly eight hour drive to Billings. Once the job was complete, we had half a day to hang out in Billings before heading to the hotel in Red Lodge.
There was a plethora of things we wanted to do, but poor planning on our part led to lunch at IHOP and a trip to the movie theater to see How to Train Your Dragon 2.
Once the movie finished, we made our way to Red Lodge with the help my trusty iPhone GPS. Unfortunately, the GPS was no help when it came to finding the hotel through construction. The main road was all torn up forcing us to take the back roads and get lost.
Finally, we spotted the hotel and checked in. We spent the night planning one what we were going to do as well as our allotted time in the park.
Bright and early the next morning we were on the road headed to the mountains. And let me tell you, driving up there on those narrow roads was terrifying. Like both hands white knuckle glued to the wheel terrifying.
Our first stop was halfway up the mountain and halfway there – so we thought – little did we know we would be in for a two hour adventure through the mountains with the low gas light coming on. Always make sure you have gas before making the journey or you will end up shelling out $5 per gallon on gas at The Top of The World Resort.
It would be another hour before we made it to another town. It was a cute mountain town filled with cute little local shops. Just beyond the edge of town stood the sign marking the entrance to the park.
We stopped at the first clearing we came to. Just over the top of the hill, three water falls fell from the cliff face. It was beautiful. After too long of a stop with S taking photos of every last flower in the field, we finally made our way down the one lane road and found a bunch of people stopped. Of course we had to stop and see what there was to see. A short hike later we stood on the top of a hill overlooking a field full of wild bison. Little did we know that there would be plenty of bison a lot closer for our viewing pleasure down the road.
The further into the park we got, the more spectacular the sights became. Wildlife was abundant everywhere we looked. Once stretch of the road had two mother black bears. One had three cubs and the other had two. Needless to say that was the most congested part of the trip. Everyone wanted to see them and snap a few photos, us included.
After that, we were on a mission to get to Old Faithful so we could start making our way back to Billings and down the dangerously terrifying mountains before it got dark. Once we got to the small tourist community around the geyser we learned that we had just missed it and would have to wait a bit until it were to blow again. It wasn’t too bad since we literally got there right after it blew we had front row seats to the storm that rolled in.
Lightning cracked all around us as the rainy wind howled. S and I stayed put in our front row spot on metal bench with our umbrellas over our heads. Wisest plan? Probably not, but at least our seats stayed dry and we kept our spots. Then, just as quick as the storm came, it passed leaving the smell of a fresh rain. People began to trickle back into the seating area and not long after everyone came back, the water started bubbling up over the top.
Seeing Old Faithful was quite the sight and not something I will soon forget. Back on the road trying to make it back to the mountains before darkness fell. There was a massive and lovely lake that I would have loved to have gotten the opportunity to kayak on. Maybe someday if I get the opportunity to go back I’ll take a kayak with.
Once we made it full circle back to the Lamar Valley, we had to look for the wolves yet again. Not that it wouldn’t be cool to see them, but I was on a mission to get to the mountain roads before night fall and not fall asleep in the process. We didn’t see them, just like I told S we wouldn’t. Wolves don’t hang out near where people are. Simple as that.
The rangers tell you not to get that close to a male bison, or any bison, for a reason. This is especially true when you are a screaming ten year old boy chasing the bison down the road. Lucky for the kid, the animal didn’t kill him. In all fairness it would have been the parents fault thought.
We made it to the mountains just as the sun was setting. Panic was definitely creeping its way into my veins. We didn’t end up at the bottom of some gully, thankfully. Even thought it was dark coming back down the mountain, it was way easier getting down it than going up it.
All in all it was a fantastic trip and one day wasn’t enough. Just remember not to get out of the car to hang out with the bison. Natural selection is always at work and even though the ten year old didn’t die, you may not be as lucky. Lastly, do not touch the swirling, silky, boiling mud no matter how soft it looks.