Days 10-11

Route

KCOD (Cody, Wyoming) to KWYS (West Yellowstone, Montana) via waypoints over the Rockies at:

44.81667N/109.4109W 44.8448N/109.61594W 45.03058N/109.86752W 44.99908N/110.03268W 44.71023N/110.5063W

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Weather & Terrain
We left early in the morning so the winds were calm and weather VFR. The only weather challenge was continued haze from the wildfires. We flew at around 14,000 feet with oxygen so had a couple to a few thousand feet of clearance above the mountain peaks we were maneuvering through. The mountains were strikingly beautiful. We passed right over much of Yellowstone National Park.

Why we chose this stop
Anil had never been to Yellowstone and Yellowstone was one of Anna's favorite national parks, so she was excited to return. Plus, we had read you could land at West Yellowstone Airport, just minutes from the West entrance of Yellowstone, and pilots could camp for free in its forested campsites nearby, an rare opportunity for us to get to experience.  

Smooth/Not-so-smooth
All generally went very smoothly. The nature of our plans in this place allowed us incredible flexibility, for which we were grateful and also turned out we needed (given the previous weather delays). Because we were camping, there were no worries about lodging durations and dates with which to contend. The Yellowstone park pass is good for a week, which was plenty long for the time we had available, and Avis was extremely helpful with the rental car. Weeks before our two week trip, one of the few advanced reservations we made was a rental car at Yellowstone because we had been told they would quickly sell out in the summer time at that location. When we knew we would be delayed by weather, we called and they were extremely helpful, seamlessly moving our arrival and departure dates around with no stress or cost. The best part came upon arrival though: the Avis agent Douglas asked us if "Bumblebee" was alright for us. Not knowing what he was talking about but grateful for a car in general, we said yes. We then looked outside at a bright yellow Camero. "Bee" became our ride around Yellowstone for the next few days.

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Eats and Sleeps

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We set up camp at one of the sites near the airport. The airport camping was great: peaceful, lots of sites available, picnic tables, fire pits, and a great view of the mountains just on the other side of the trees.  

We had the pleasure of eating lunch both days at a couple of the Yellowstone lodges. The first was the Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone's historic and classic lodge with intricately weaving woodwork making up its inner decor. The second was at the Mammoth Hot Springs lodge. Both meals were fabulous, only enhavced by our hunger after long mornings of hiking. 

Highlights

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  • Yellowstone remains one of Anna's favorite places and has been added to Anil's list of remarkable sites he's experienced in this world. Both full days in the park were spent hiking around richly colorful hot springs, geysers, hissing steam vents, forested overlooks, waterfalls, and canyons. We were amazed by the diversity of the park as you travel through it, noting huge areas where the earth is steaming in one place followed by dry brush areas in another area only to come upon expansive forests and rocky canyons in the next. 
  • We came across three wolves! There are only 105 in the entire park, and we were fortunate enough to stumble upon a pack of three one morning. We were close enough to get to make out their faces and behaviors using binoculars, but far enough to stay safe and not interfere in their lives. They ate on a carcus and then settled to rest in the tall grass, looking as if they were ready for a National Geographic photo. 
  • Probably our favorite thermal area in the park was Porcelain Basin within the Norris Geyser Basin area. This is the hottest and most dynamic area of the park, and we were in awe of how much it seemed as if we were walking around another planet when we walked through there.
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