After driving over the Beartooth Highway last week we decided to spend a few days in Yellowstone National Park. There are still several sections of the park that we haven’t explored in depth and we were eager to see Yellowstone in it’s fall colors.
We arrived at the Northeast entrance of the park and stopped for a picnic breakfast along Soda Butte Creek. The crowds were out in full force near Slough Creek where we spotted wolves on our last visit. However, we were eager to make the drive up past Tower Falls. This section of road has been closed on our last two visits to the park, so we were excited to finally see Mount Washburn and Dunraven Pass up close.
After sight seeing from the road we stopped at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone to show Five Ball the falls. He was too little to remember our climb down to the lower falls a few years back. On this trip we were excited to find that Uncle Tom’s Trail was open (it was closed due to snow and ice on our last trips). The short but steep trail, complete with a set of 328 stairs, brought us to the base of Lower Falls and gave us an up close look of the canyon.
The rest of our first day in Yellowstone was spent along the shores of Yellowstone Lake where we enjoyed basking in the mild and sunny September weather. From there we were excited to drive by the crowd chaos of the Old Faithful area and head to our lodging in West Yellowstone.
The next day we took route 191 North to a very quite section of the park which lies outside the five main entrances. There are several hikes that start off from this area. We chose the Bacon Rind Trail which heads west through the park towards the Gallatin National Forest. The trail is over 10 miles one way and follows the Bacon Rind Creek. We only went out a few miles and spent the rest of our time playing along the creek as the afternoon temperature rose to 80 degrees.
Although it was one of our quicker forays to Yellowstone National Park we had amazing weather and a spectacular time. Plus it felt great to finally visit a few areas of the park that are usual closed due to weather.
The early September weather in Montana has been on the chilly side with several snowy nights on the mountains. However, we were lucky to find a break in the weather and sneak away for a few days to Holland Lake in the Swan Valley of northwest Montana. We were rewarded with sunny days and gorgeous scenery. Including a few snow-capped mountains.
The national forest campground at Holland Lake is very popular, so we took a risk by showing up on a Friday afternoon with no reservation. However, we found a wonderful campsite with plenty of rooms for the kids to explore the forest and a sheltered spot to set up the tent.
We were excited to find that the campground offers kayak rentals and spent our first day kayaking across the crystal clear lake. The kids are becoming proficient paddlers and it was so peaceful to be on the silent lake spotting turtles basking in the sun. The absence of motor boats was a huge treat as the kids worked on their paddling skills without extra waves.
As soon as the sun set the temperatures quickly started to plummet into the 40’s, but thanks to the kids wonderful fire making abilities we had a blazing fire to sit around while stargazing.
We spent our second day at Holland Lake hiking along the lake and up to a waterfall. We weren’t sure that this late in the season the waterfall would have an impressive flow. However, when we got to the end of the trail we were rewarded with a lovely spray of water. A few minutes sitting near the spay and we were cooled right down from the steep uphill climb.
The rest of our time at Holland Lake was spent at the beach where the kids embraced the chilly water for what might have been their last swim of the season. Tearing ourselves away from this wonderful gem of Montana was extremely hard. If we could freeze time and make summer last just a bit longer Holland Lake is definitely where we would spend our time.