This morning as we got ready for our morning journey into Jackson Hole I filled my cup twice… once for a quick wake up cup and a second time to fill my thermos cup before heading out. We were heading into Jackson Hole for a very very important appointment… that is to say Peyton had an appointment with her favorite hair salon…Tori’s Salon. As usual I made the choice to find other things to do while she was beautifying her locks… So I with camera in tow headed to a local coffee shop for a refill and then north out of town.
It was late morning already and the sky was clear and bright so not really the best light for picture taking although stunningly beautiful in all directions. Where should I go I thought and the next thing I knew I was headed up the Gros Ventre River. This river runs a long ways back into the wilderness. Over 74 miles long it is. It’s final destination is a meet up with the Snake River. The Gros Ventre river drainage was at one time one of the main routes in and out of the valley that is now Jackson Hole.
Before 1800, the only people who traveled into Jackson Hole were the Native American tribes who spent the summer months hunting the wildlife in the valley and the area surrounding it. Among the tribes that trailed through the valley were the Shoshoni, Crow, Blackfeet, Bannock, and Gros Ventre. THIS is Lewis and Clark country! For those mountain men who hunted and trapped in this area, names like John Colter, Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith, David Jackson, William Sublette and later on men like Beaver Dick called this area home for a time.
Today the Gros Ventre drainage is one of the most beautiful places to travel to fish, hunt, hike, explore or just chill by a mountain lake or stream and just enjoy the moment. Today I only had an hour and a half to get some pictures. These are some of what I saw during my short journey into this mountain range. The only bad things about this trip was I quickly ran out of coffee and time… in just that order too. It was time to head back to Jackson to pick up my bride and head home. Below was my view back to civilization. I am sure the Gros Ventre will be waiting for my return… very soon I hope.
This past weekend we had the great pleasure to make our way to Bozeman Montana. We live in the Jackson Hole area and from here it is a good 235 miles to Bozeman. We just love our weekends in this great town. Good food, shopping, great people… and more important COSTCO. Bozeman is just a really great town. It sits on the northern boundary of Yellowstone Park in a beautiful valley completely surrounded by mountain ranges. This time of the year the park is closed so we travel through West Yellowstone and climb through the westernmost reaches of Yellowstone Park and then we follow the Gallatin River down into Bozeman.
One of the highlights of our trips to Bozeman is finding a favorite restaurant to eat at before we get busy with our day. One of our favorite places to eat breakfast at is a place called “Jam!”. Jam! is located on Main Street in old downtown Bozeman and this place is so much fun. It is run amazingly well, food is always top notch and the coffee… well it is really good and HOT just the way I like it. The atmosphere is so very cool and the vibe in this place is so much fun. The old brick walls and the local mural on the wall in the back is really something. Service is friendly, and the food is always fabulous. Finally you will have a smile on your face when the bill comes – they are so reasonable in their pricing that it is hard to not smile when you are all done. Before you venture out to Copper Springs get some great food at Jam!
One of the highlights of the weekend was our time spent at the Copper Springs Ranch facility as this weekend they were having one of their great Barrel Racing Events. As many know we are living with multitudes of snow this time of year and our arenas are covered with deep white powder. Very difficult to prepare for winter events like this. So this trip we decided to just watch and see what the competition looked like. My daughter Brynn and her companion Rebecca Star wait all winter long for the Barrel Season to officially kick off in the Spring.
If you have ever watched a Barrel Racing Event it really is a treat. It is a fast paced timed event that can be really exciting to watch. This weekend we saw just about everything you would expect, Nice trailers, beautiful horses, the very young and some a bit older than you would expect. We even saw a crash or two which is never a good thing – but I think everyone came through it ok. One of the really fun things to watch is the tractor race that happens in between each 4-6 racers. They come out of the gate and really clean things up in a very quick manner. You will swear it is a racing even with tractors. These guys are so good at what they do and they keep the races on track.
Copper Springs is located just west of Bozeman on the road to Ennis Montana. Located on the top of a hill on the west side of the Gallatin River this place is picture perfect. The facility itself is amazing, clean and lots of room. The interior of the barn where the events are held is first class with plenty of seating and even a full snack bar. They have a full and complete staff and the place is immaculate and offers great seating. Simply a great place to spend a weekend.
Our goal was to scope out some of the racers and see how everyone was placing in their time slots. We watched the very young, novice racers and then some really accomplished riders followed. I took my camera and took some shots which you can see below. If you ever make it to Bozeman Montana when one of these events are taking place at Copper Springs – check it out for a few hours. You will enjoy your visit.
Winter has finally passed here in the Yellowstone Basin. I can’t tell you how nice it is to see the ground again… and the sun! I spent a good part of this winter studying some of the latest Nikon Cameras and it was time to step up to something new. I definitely wanted something with a fast frames rate and a camera that operates in lower light as well.
Although I was hoping for the release of the new 800 series camera I decided to pull the trigger and purchase the new D500 as I shoot so many moving things up here. This new Nikon camera is just as advertised and once I was able to get it to my front door I could not wait to get out and take some new pictures. The weather however did not cooperate until this past week when I finally got a window of clear weather. Although I was not able to get out as early as I wanted I did make it to one of my favorite spots to look for interesting things to share.
This morning I decided to go to the gym first and then head north with my favorite LARGE cup of morning coffee in my hand. I must say – I need to order two cups from now on or take a thermos… One is just never enough.
This time of the year the mountains are just starting to come alive. This morning I headed to Antelope Flats just north of Kelly Wyoming. The light was not what I wanted and there was very few animals to be found. One of my favorite animals to photograph is the Pronghorn Antelope. They are hard to get close enough to and they are FAST.
This big boy was checking me out and just as I was getting into a position where I would be on the right side of the light some tourists decided to speed down the road I was next to at an unacceptable speed thus forcing me to take these shots while I could. Even though these are not what I wanted I do get excited for this summer as I am sure to encounter my friends again on favorable lighting terms.
If you are ever to visit Jackson Hole this is a wonderful part of the valley to check out as you never know what you will find. Be sure to bring your camera and enjoy Jackson Hole through the lens of your camera. You just may run into some of the locals like the Antelope, Bison, Moose, Deer, Elk, and for sure the beautiful mountain vistas that abound in every direction. A great way to share a cup of Morning Coffee…
We woke up again this morning to another beautiful fall day here in the Yellowstone basin! But this morning unlike many of the ones over the past few weeks was really cold. As we pulled from our driveway this morning on our way to drop Brynn off at school the temp gauge was reading 28 degrees. By the time we got across the Snake River it was 25 degrees and even colder north of town.
The Snake River looked pretty cool as there was steam coming off of the water and for that to happen the air temp must be colder than the water. Trust me, the Snake River is not something to wade in this time of year as the water temperatures have dropped quite a bit. Anyway we dropped Brynn off and headed to the coffee shop and then north of town again.
Now forgive us as our camera was acting up this morning but I think you will enjoy our little adventure. We were alone this morning and the animals were right next to our truck at every turn. We took our time and sat and watched the three moose in the pics for quite some time. They were eating the sage next to the road and for the most part ignored us. Been then they decided to check us out and we rolled away as they headed to us. Very cool!
All in all we saw antelope, buffalo, moose, geese and most certainly some spectacular views of the valley. On this morning we passed through Kelly, Wyoming, past the entrance to the Gros Ventre canyon, over to Antelope flats and Mormon Row and then home again. Another great way to share a cup of java!
A few years back my son Brock and I took a day trip to Bozeman Montana to meet some very dear friends from the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation located in Montana. Donovan Sr, is an Assiniboine Elder who trained me how to make traditional Native American Pipes, (but that is for another blog post) and Uncle Loren. The short version is we met Donovan Sr. and Uncle Loren (we call him “Uncs”) to pick up some sacred pipe stone and a couple of new pipes, just completed by Donovan Sr., to take back to Jackson Hole to be photographed. We also picked up some pipe stone for ourselves as well as exchange some pipe stems, ideas, and friendship! The day in Bozeman ended in what we call a “Good Trade” day.
Our trip started early on a Saturday morning, leaving Jackson Hole at around 8:00am. After getting our coffee and a couple of bagels we hit the road. When traveling through this part of the country, which is sooo amazing and in a single round trip of about 450 miles one can experience everything the Rockies has to throw at you. The weather this Fall day was awesome, skies were clear blue and the sun was shining bright, and the temperature was perfect when we left town. There are a couple of ways you can make your way to Bozeman from Jackson, one through Yellowstone Park’s south entrance or head through Idaho, back into Montana, north through the very northwest corner of the park and finally past Big Sky Montana as you make your way down the Gallatin River into Bozeman.
From Jackson to Bozeman is about 214 miles (one way) over some of the most beautiful roads you can travel. We chose to head west over Teton Pass and into Idaho, then north along the west side of the Teton Range. You first travel through beautiful rolling hills where much of the russet potatoes are grown in Idaho, not to mention double row barley (which Anheuser Bush buys for their beer) and after you make a turn east in Ashton Idaho you eventually end up in West Yellowstone.
For those who are not familiar with Yellowstone Park, there are 4 entrances to the park. Jackson Hole to the south, Gardiner at the north, the east entrance which leads to Cody, Wyoming and the west entrance which is West Yellowstone (it’s a town). Some of you may be familiar with West Yellowstone as some of the premier fly fishing rivers in the world are in the area. The Madison river, the Firehole, Henry’s Fork, the Buffalo, the Gallatin and many more. This is truly Lewis and Clark country.
From West Yellowstone you head north toward Bozeman and you travel though the very northwest part of Yellowstone Park and you quickly pass over the Madison River eventually picking up and following the Gallatin river all the way into Bozemen. One important note here is that you pass right through a part of the park that suffered from the big fire in 1988. It is awesome to see how nature has recovered. You pass Big Sky Montana Ski Resort and other beautiful scenery. This is one of the most beautiful stretches of road to drive at any time of the year.
Once in Bozemen we had our little pow wow with friends, stopped at a few stores and headed home. When we left Bozeman the clouds had started to gather. The weather from Jackson to Bozeman had been perfect! Clear skies, very dry roads, an easy drive. But things were about to change. We headed back up the Gallatin to West Yellowstone. This part of the trip is about 90 miles. As we pulled into West Yellowstone, Brock said “Dad why don’t we go home through the park”. I said sure let’s do it. It is important to note that this is about 4:45pm MST and it is getting darker. It is important because this is animal hour in the park.
We entered the park and headed towards the Old Faithful Geyser basin. This part of the trip from West Yellowstone to home in Jackson is about 130 miles. This is when things started to change. We first ran head on into a male buffalo that decided my truck was bigger than he was. So he mosied off the road and into the pasture that sat along the Madison river. He was the first of hundreds we were to run into this day of travels through the park. And on top of it, it was starting to rain. I quickly looked at my temperature gauge and saw that the temp has dropped drastically to 38 degrees. This was important because at 38 degrees and below it will start to snow if the conditions are right.
As we got closer to Old Faithful we saw elk, and big herds of buffalo and we drove along the banks of the Madison River, simply awesome. By the time we got to Old Faithful Geyser Basin the temperature was down to 36 and still raining. And it was now getting pretty dark. Clouded skis and looking even darker towards Jackson. Along this stretch of the road you travel along the banks of the Firehole river for part of the way and it gets it name from all the thermal activity that it passes through. An amazing sight to see in its own right.
This is an beautiful part of the park and we tried to take some pictures before the light got too low. Almost everywhere you look you see geysers, fumaroles, steam, hot pools, bubbling mud, trees, animals, – awesome! We decided to pull over to take a short break and just take in this beautiful valley. But we did not stay long as the temperature continued to drop and I said to Brock we are about to get snowed on. But the ferocity of the change was not expected.
We headed south towards home and as we got down the road about 5 miles the temp dropped to around 32 and I said to Brock here it comes. And come it did! It did not flurry a bit or start real light – it just started snowing. Now in this part of the country you will cross the Continental Divide many times. And we were heading for one of those crossings at an elevation of 8391 feet above sea level. One other thing to note here – the park was void of people as it was close to closing so we were basically on our own.
The snowflakes started to increase in size and the volume at which they fell was speeding up. The road quickly disappeared and became totally white. The snow was accumulating at a rate that I estimated at over an 1-2 inches per hour maybe even more at times. We put the truck into four-wheel drive as we were not going anywhere without it. Our speed dropped to about 25 miles per hour and we are crawling our way through Yellowstone park in the middle of a snow storm all alone. When we left Jackson it was sunny and clear. In Bozeman it was starting to cloud up but still relatively warm. West Yellowstone it started to rain and now we were surrounded in white.
Our final stop before it got real dark and we made the final trek home was the pass where we cross over the Continental Divide. We stopped and took this last picture here. We got out of our truck and it was completely quite. Snow was falling straight down and you could hear it hit the trees, your clothing, the truck. It was coming down so thick that it would fall right into your mouth. If you have never experienced the complete quite of the forest and to see snow falling straight down and building up in front of your eyes you have missed one of heaven’s real treats!!
The light faded fast and Brock and I decided that if we did not get moving we may be spending the night here as the snow was already over a foot deep on the road. We slowly made our way to the south entrance of the park and as the roads started to clear we made our way home to Jackson. You actually leave Yellowstone Park and then make your way through parts of Teton National Park before you get into the Jackson area.
This was an amazing day for Brock and I – we spent it together as father and son, we shared lunch with friends and they we got to see God’s hand on our Mother Earth. We were kissed by her this day and left with a memory I shall never forget! WE WERE TRULY BLESSED THIS DAY!
One of the most iconic images from Jackson Hole is the Teton Range. Although I do not know the percentage – I would guess that most of the photos taken of the Tetons is a frontal shot that is taken from the general vicinity of Antelope Flats. What is so cool about the Tetons is the many faces it has when taken from different locations throughout the valley. Here is the picture of the day taken from a more northern approach. Enjoy and may it bring peace to your day! (click image to enlarge)
Another beautiful day here in Jackson Hole Wyoming and a perfect cup of coffee to go with it. This picture seemed a bit unusual this time of the year with no snow on the ground and the warm sun shinning. Taken behind Miller Butte on the Elf Refuge… He looks chill. I hope this brings a smile to your face this morning…
Another hot cup of coffee and a short road trip north of town. Fall is quickly starting to pass and winter is not far away. The weather was not the best for all these pictures but we found a few that we liked. Waiting for the first snow to get some shots of whats to come. Enjoy the slide show.