Day 5 - Shelby, MT
|Thursday, August 17, 2023: Good morning, Billings!
|We were up and driving away from the KOA by 7:30 AM.
|You are probably asking yourself where we are heading today.
|Here's a clue: that's the Yellowstone River right there.
|You guessed it! We decided to dip down to Yellowstone National Park for a quick visit to Mammoth Springs.
|Over the past couple of years, we've been through every entrance of Yellowstone except the northern entrance. The iconic Roosevelt Arch, built in 1903, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
|What luck! There was no waiting at the gate. We did not expect that.
|Yellowstone National Park has its own post office, and it is gorgeous.
|There were a lot of really beautiful buildings at this entrance of the park.
|This is the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins. It looked like it was built yesterday.
|We were thrilled to be able to get a parking spot at Mammoth Springs and quickly headed up the walkway toward the spring.
|The color of the rocks was spectacular.
|Please hold while Debbie takes a group photo for a family. She likes to volunteer to take photos of people on vacation.
|Back to the spring. The white color rock is where the water has previously flowed but has since dried up. The darker, rust colored rock is where the water is currently flowing.
|Isn't is just gorgeous?
|Debbie took this great photo for later use as a laptop backdrop.
|Check out the terraces. Some of the steps are pools. The ones that are empty and completely dry are white, but some of the pools still have water in them. Some of the ones with water have white external walls where the water is no longer flowing and the walls have dried up.
|Tom also took some carefully cropped photos for backdrops.
|Here's one of them showing a terrace that has completely dried up, ...
|... and here's another one where the water is still actively flowing over the stone.
|Even in this sulphurous rockscape, beautiful plants find a way to grow and thrive.
|We headed back down the walkway to the parking lot, passing this stone pillar that was downstream of the water flow.
|We decided not to stop at the Visitor Center on Albright Avenue. Horace Albright succeeded Stephen Mather as Director of the National Park Service when Mather stepped down in 1929, so it's fitting that the street is named after him.
|We started back up the windy, narrow road leading to the nothern entrance.
|We passed this Escape campervan on the road out of the park. This one appeared to have a pop-up tent strapped to the roof.
|After we left the park and were driving through the town outside the gates, we passed a third Escape campervan.
|Speaking of town, here it is.
|We drove back into Montana and realized that we never saw a "Welcome to Wyoming" sign on the way into the park. Maybe it was there and we just didn't see it.
|As we approached Livingston, Montana, we were tempted by this retro Beefburgers diner, but we had to pass because we already had lunch plans.
|Livingston was such a cool town with many retro store fronts.
|Look at all of the neon on the Murray Hotel and Cafe, ...
|... the Livingston Bar and Grille, ...
|... and The Stockman Fine Foods.
|The pub in this cute purple building was called the Fainting Goat.
|The Mint Bar and Grill had a vintage individual bulb electric light sign.
|We pulled into the Pickle Barrel for lunch.
|This sandwich chain started in Bozeman, Montana, in 1975, and still has locations in Bozeman and Livingston.
|We ordered mushroom steak sandwiches and drinks. They were absolutely delicious.
|After lunch, we passed the KPRK radio station on the way out of town with its cool Art Deco building.
|As we headed north on US Highway 89, we drove through the Lewis and Clark National Forest.
|US 89 passes through some of the most beautiful landscape from Flagstaff, Arizona, in the south to the Canadian border near Glacier National Park in the north.
|We had to take a picture of this dead end sign, ...
|... because it also had a Bigfoot crossing sign on it.
|In Great Falls, Montana, we stopped at Giant Springs State Park, ...
|... to see the very appropriately named Giant Springs. This freshwater spring flows at an astonishing rate of 156 million gallons per day.
|The spring was made famous by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805 and is one of the largest freshwater springs in the country.
|The water from the spring spills out into the nearby Missouri River.
|It is crystal clear, and the pool is filled with greenery.
|The spring is also the source of the Roe River, which is the country's shortest river at 201 feet long. It is ironic that the shortest river in the country flows into the Missouri River which is the longest river in the country at 2,540 miles long.
|Next to the spring is the Giant Springs Trout Hatchery. This holding pool contained dozens of huge trout.
|Look how big these fish are!
|There were three or four albino trout in the pool that were an orange-ish color.
|Let's go inside!
|Right inside the entrance was a display showing the different species of trout that are hatched here.
|This display showed some of the technology that is used to condition the water from the spring so that it is more hospitable to the baby trout.
|Yes, you are reading that correctly. This hatchery has released more than 93 million trout since it opened in 1924.
|We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the hatchery and enjoyed having the place to ourselves.
|As we left the Giant Springs area, we made a quick stop to take a look at Black Eagle Falls. We really liked how they built the dam upstream of that gorgeous rock formation and left the water to spill over it downstream.
|Here's a last look at the mighty Missouri River.
|We had planned to stop at the Sip 'n Dip Lounge at the O'Haire Inn, which features a mermaid swimming in their glassed-in pool behind the bar, but we were two hours early for the mermaid appearance and decided to pass.
|Another factor was that it was 101 degrees outside, ...
|... so we decided to go to Dairy Queen instead.
|This beautiful building is home to the Clerk of the District Court for Cascade County, Montana.
|This replica Statue of Liberty is located on the edge of Gibson Park and was placed here by the Boy Scouts of America in the 1950s.
|This bison statue was part of the Great Buffalo Hunt of 2003.
|This gorgeous bison-fish statue as we crossed the Missouri River on our way out of town.
|About twenty miles north of Great Falls, we passed a field where a fire was growing out of control in the high winds. There were three huge combines in the area of the fire, and several people appeared to be trying to put it out, but they didn't seem to be having any effect.
|An hour later, we were surrounded by non-burning fields and farmland in the town of Shelby, Montana.
|Just before 6 PM, we arrived at Lake Shel-oole Campground. The sites were first-come, first-serve, so after making a quick circuit to see which one we wanted, we circled back to the pay station and paid the registration fee.
|There were a mix of back-in and pull-through sites around the oval-shaped campground.
|We selected a small pull-through site near the bathroom building with two well-placed trees for shade.
|It was very windy and still extremely hot, so we set up our chairs and tried to cool off in the breeze.
|A few minutes later, we set up the Starlink and enjoyed some internet while we waited for it to cool down.
|After we set up the tent, we relaxed with a few more episodes of "The Masked Singer" as we unwound from the day's activities.
|The sunset was exceptionally beautiful as it went down behind the low hills surrounding the campsite. There were a huge number of bugs swarming outside, so we took this photo from the safety of inside the tent.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy