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Mt. Rushmore, Grand Tetons & Yellowstone

Caravan Tours, USA

August 22 - 29, 2010

This 8 day tour began with flights to Rapid City, South Dakota.  Part of the trip was a nostalgia experience for me, as I had visited Yellowstone 56 years ago when I attended the Boy Scout Jamboree at the Irving Ranch outside Los Angeles.   I had also visited Jackson Hole and Mt. Rushmore many years ago.  Touring the USA is always an upper experience for me as we live in a great nation with a lot to see and experience.


Our first two nights were spent in Rapid City, South Dakota where we were oriented to the content of the trip and visited our first two stops .  Our hotel was a very nice Radisson Hotel.

This is the bus that was our transportation for the next week.  It was well driven by our capable driver Chad Bird. 

The first evening I discovered the Fire House Brew Pub in downtown Rapid City.  Great food and the best Wheat beer I have ever drank was served there.

First thing on Monday, August 23rd we bussed to the Crazy Horse Memorial.

The memorial was started over 50 years ago, and is still under construction.  The memorial is the world's largest sculpture still in progress.  Chief Standing Bear told sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, too."  The monument is a tribute to the Sioux Lakota Indian leader known as Crazy Horse.

The equipment used in the early stages of sculpting the memorial.

The model of the memorial that guides the stone carving.

Our second stop of the morning was at Mt. Rushmore.  This is a

quick peek at George Washington from the road leading

to the mountain visitor center.

The avenue of flags leads one to the observation point where the best view is of the four presidents. 

Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt & Lincoln from left to right.

This shot gives you an impression of the size of each president sculpted head.  Sculptor Gutzon Borglum began work on the monument in August 1927. when President Calvin Coolidge rode his horse three miles to Mt. Rushmore to dedicate the beginning of construction.

It is the 3rd day of our trip and we are on the road early as we drive to Billings, Montana.  Above is a photo of Sturgis, South Dakota where each summer there is a huge motorcycle rally attend by over 50,000  cyclists.  The rest of the year you can see is is a sleepy little town.

Wooden snow fences protect the road from drifting snow.

We saw occasional oil wells as we rode along.

Large coal mines dotted the state of Montana.  We saw many large railroad trains hauling coal, from mine like this one.

The super highway were traveled on was long and straight.  Notice the mountains that appeared as we drove along.

Our next midmorning stop was at the Little Bighorn Battlefield.

There is a National Cemetery located on the battlefield.  It is next to the battlefield visitors center.

The battlefield with a large monument at the top.  The grave stones seen here represent where soldiers were fell duringr the battle.

The monument has the names of the soldiers who died in the battle

inscribed on each of the four sides.

A soldier's monument

A civilian's Monument

This monument speaks for itself!

Armstrong's body was moved some years after the battle to West Point at the request of his family.

The last stop of the day was at Yellowstone County Museum located at the Billings Airport.  It had a very good location with broad vista views of the city.

Locomotive 1030 was located on the grounds of the Museum is American Location Company #1031, the last steam switch engine used in Billings, which was donated to the Museum in 1956 by the Northern Pacific Railroad.

This diorama depicts the practice used by the Indians to slaughter bison.  They would drive the bison off a steep cliff to kill or injure them so they could be slaughtered for their hides and meat.  On occasion Indians would also fall over the cliff.

Mountain scene as we drive to Cody, Wyoming.

A beautiful scene, mountain and a river.

This is one great Museum with five galleries inside.  We are stopping in Cody for several hours to see all we can of the collections.  Cody was founded in 1898 by Colonel William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody.  Buffalo Bill Cody was a famous buffalo hunter, Pony Express rider and U.S. Army scout who toured the America with his "Wild West" show.

A statue of Buffalo Bill Cody greeted us as we entered the Historical Center.

This statue of Buffalo Bill Cody on horse was located to the right side of the center.

This painting of "old Faithful" was in the large Art Galley located in a wing of the center.  Next to this gallery was a wing with a collection of gun and rifles of the old west.

There was a large collection of Native American art.

Many of the art pieces depicted the culture of the native American's were on exhibited.

The Draper Natural History exhibit was loaded with representations like this one.  This was the largest gallery in the center.

Outside of the Center was a chuck wagon serving samples of trail beans and biscuits.  The samples were very tasty!

Scenery on the way to Yellowstone.

Blue sky and mountains, what more could the traveler ask for?

Our afternoon stop was at Pahaska Tepee, this was William "Buffalo Bill" Cody’s old hunting lodge and hotel in the U.S. state of Wyoming. It is located 50 miles west of the town of Cody and two miles from the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Cody built Pahaska Tepee to accommodate tourists traveling up the Cody Road along the North Fork of the Shoshone River to visit Yellowstone.

The original hunting lodge still is in use today.

As we drive into Yellowstone National Park we run into a traffic jam!  It is a small herd of Bison who are either using the road or trying to cross it.  Either way traffic is stopped dead!

When you are this big, you can stop traffic anytime you want to.

We arrived at Old faithful  Inn in the late afternoon after a very nice drive along Yellowstone Lake.  The inn is at approximately 7,300 feet in elevation.  The inn and all other accommodations are non-smoking and, reflecting the natural surrounding of Yellowstone there are no televisions, radios, air conditioning or internet connections in the park.

This evening we dined in the main dinning room of the Old Faithful Inn.  The menu offered bison along with other choices like seafood.  The antelope sausage served as an appetizer was delicious.

On the fifth morning of our trip, I awoke to view the moon setting and the sky lightening with the morning sun.

Early in the morning steam escaping from the many geysers in the area around the Old Faithful Inn.

Old Faithful inn in the first light of morning.

Our day at Yellowstone was to be spent riding around the park viewing its many wonders.  First stop was at the Lower Geyser Basin.

The colorful substance in the water is bacteria mat along with other compounds like minerals.

A steaming pool.

Pools come in varying sizes and shaped.  Some emit lots of steam others are more quiet.

The morning sun with steam rising makes for a beautiful Yellowstone photo.

This is a new geyser or pool growing out of the ground at the Lower geyser basin.

Yellowstone mountain scenery!

Mammoth Hot Springs Resort. 

The Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces have been a popular feature in Yellowstone since the early stagecoach routes up the Yellowstone River Valley. The Terraces, first described by the 1871 Hayden Survey, were given the name of White Mountain Hot Spring, even though they were well known and named before then.

The step-like terraces form as heated water moves along the Morris-Mammoth Fault. The hot water carries dissolved calcium and bicarbonate to the surface of the terraces where pressure lessens. Carbon dioxide then escapes as gas and the carbonate combines with calcium to precipitate as travertine.

Liberty Cap, a dormant hot spring cone is seen on the left in this photo. 

Another view of mammoth Hot Spring Terraces.

A view of the Upper Falls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.  This photo was take at Uncle Tom's Point.  The height of the Upper is 109 feet..

The primary rock type of the Canyon is rhyolite/altered rhyolite.

The Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.  The Height of the Lower falls is 308 feet.

As we drove along to our next stop we came upon a Bison taking a rest from what ever Bison's do.  He was one large animal!

As we drove along, we saw the results of the devastating forest fire that occurred in the summer of 1988.  This photo shows the dramatic regrowth that is occurring after the fire.   This is all the action of mother nature and is not manmade tree replanting.


The Lake Hotel.  It like Old Faithful Inn are closed during the winter months.

The Hotel looks up Yellowstone Lake.

This is one of the famous "Jammers" used in the Park.  They are great to ride in and the roofs fold back to make photo taking easy.

One of the last stops on our day long drive was at the Continental Divide location.

The water in this Lake can flow either to the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.  The lake was names ISA Lake by Jim Bridger the famous Mountain Man.

Our bus ride ended at the Old Faithful Inn a little before five pm, it was my last chance to photograph Old Faithful erupting.  Above is the start of the eruption.


Here she is full bore eruption! An awesome sight.

Several minutes later the eruption was almost all over.  Next eruption is in about 90 minutes give or take 10 minutes.  When I visited Old Faithful on my way to the Boy Scout Jamboree in California in 1957 Old Faithful erupted every 60 minutes.  Like all of us, geysers slow down with old age! 

After a wonderful stay at Yellowstone National Park it was off to visit the Tetons!

  Our first stop was at Colter Bay Visitor Center.  Located in Grand Teton National Park, the Colter Bay Marina on Jackson Lake.

The Tetons at Jackson Lake.

  This is a view of the Tetons from behind the Colter Bay Visitor Center. 

The majesty of the Tetons on a beautiful day!

We had a raft float trip down the Snake River that lasted over two hours.  It was a truly wonderful trip on inflated rafts. Lunch was served part way down the river.  Above is one of our tour groups shoving off into the river.

This is a photo location of the Tetons that is similar to the one that Ansel Adams took in black and White film many years ago.

The river for the most part was calm but occasionally we had some small amounts of white water to navigate.  It was fun experiencing the rivers currents.

The Tetons were following us at every turn in the river.

A last look at the Tetons before disembarking at the end of our float trip.

After our float trip we had a chance to Visit downtown Jackson.  Our evening lodging was at the Virginian Motel.  It was decidedly second class after our four star hotels in Rapid City and Billings.

The evening meal and western show was at the Bar J Chuck Wagon Supper &  Western Music Show outside of Jackson.  It was an interesting experience as we went through a food line with aluminum plates and got food literally thrown at us.  The show was fun in parts and the sing was ok.

Our last day of the tour was to take us from Jackson Hole to Salt lake City.  We drove south though the Bridger-Teton National Forest in the early morning.  Above is the Antler Arch in the small town of Afton, Wyoming.  We had our morning potty break at Afton.  Several shops were open for our arrival.

Our last late morning stop was at The National Oregon/California Trail Center at Montpelier, Idaho, which offers visitors a unique and entertaining interpretive indoor adventure; simulating an actual wagon train experience of the 1850s. Re-enacted entirely within our comfortable center, this interpretive experience features historically accurate interpretive areas and live actors.  Patrons will go back in time to visit a gun shop, mercantile, ride in a covered wagon and spend time around the evening encircled wagon train at the Clover Creek Encampment.  The National Oregon/California Trail Center and the City of Montpelier, Idaho are located on the historic Oregon/California Trail, mid-way between Jackson/Yellowstone and Salt Lake City.

Our next stop of the day was at beautiful Bear Lake shown above.

After lunch we continued on via the Logan Canyon to Salt Lake City where we arrived in the late afternoon. 

A photo of downtown Salt Lake City.  Some of the group did sightsee throughout the downtown area of the city before our farewell dinner at our hotel. 

It is always difficult to say goodbye to newly made friends.  The travel group was great and we shared many fun moments together.

I hope you have enjoyed viewing some of the over 900 photos I took on this trip.

Once again Caravan Tours has provided a first class tour.  Larry Whipple was our extremely capable tour guide and the bus service provided by Chad Bird was excellent.  I would recommend to my many friends Caravan Tours for travel on the good old USA!