After a hearty breakfast at the KOA campground restaurant, we drove up to the park visitor center to hike around the base of Devil's Tower. The weather was clear and cool and there were not many tourists there yet. The Tower has spiritual significance for so many tribes, it seems appropriate to view it in the silence of nature without the tour bus throngs who arrived at the end of our hike. The monolithic structure deserves some awed reverence. I can't recommend visiting Devil's Tower enough. It was truly awe-inspiring.
I called Ron and Jonah down from their climb on the boulder field at the base of Devil's Tower to begin our long drive. We took the more scenic, but slower, route through Wyoming so that we could drive through Yellowstone National Park. The landscape was unbelievable. We climbed to almost 10, 000 feet through yet another driving rain storm and saw piles of snow still dotting the roadside. The descent gave us breathtaking views of a vast canyon and valley. We also came a split second within a close encounter with a moose. We were minding our own business at 65 miles per hour when a moose stepped right in front of us. Luckily, he decided to run and got out of our way just in the nick of time. Of course, Jonah was watching a movie and Elli was drawing, so they both missed it. We immediately ordered them to put everything away and look out the window. They both took many pictures as we drove from that point onward and didn't seem to miss their entertainment devices at all.
After hours of driving, we finally arrived at Yellowstone's East Entrance in the late afternoon/early evening. True to form, it rained for most of the drive through the park. We still had incredible views of the lakes, mountains, and forests, though. We stopped for dinner at one of the general stores in the park and ate quickly to make it to Old Faithful before sunset. The weather gods did not disappoint. As we drove up to Old Faithful, the rain stopped and the geyser started shooting water a hundred feet in the air. We caught almost the whole eruption as we ran from the parking lot. Our timing really couldn't have been more perfect.
We enjoyed some ice cream in the Old Faithful lodge before driving on to the Fountain Paint Pots. The bubbling orange, pink and blue mud makes you feel like you're on another planet. The rain had moved through, so we were treated to another amazing sunset which I managed to capture reasonably well on film.
After our speedy tour of the paint pots, we got back in the car for the almost 3 hour drive to Ennis, MT. We rolled in at about 11 pm and transferred the sleeping kids into beds. Another exhausting, but beautiful, drive was behind us.