Today was another big driving day and our first sight of Yellowstone National Park!
Good old Google Maps estimated our drive from Buffalo, Wyoming to the Yellowstone Park / West Entrance KOA at about 6.5 hours, but it ended up taking us much longer. Our first detour was a longer-than-planned stop at the very nice Walmart in Cody, Wyoming, not far from the eastern edge of the park. Knowing we’d be far from civilization for a while (and that shopping opportunities we’d have would reflect tourist prices), we took the opportunity to restock our coolers for the next few days.
Just a few miles up the road, the awe-inspiring views at the Buffalo Bill Dam and Reservoir necessitated another stop.
Our next stop was for a quick splash in the chilly rivers of the North Fork Shoshone River.
Well, Ryan splashed. I did not.
It was a pretty exciting moment when we entered Yellowstone National Park for the first time. We’d altered our route so that instead of going the fastest way (up into Montana, skirting the park) we would be traveling straight through the park to our campground at the west entrance. Because of all the stops we made, we were getting a little worried we wouldn’t get to our campground in time to set up the tent before dark, but the breathtaking views in Yellowstone soon distracted us.
It’s a little over 80 miles from Yellowstone’s East Entrance to the West Entrance, and we quickly learned that traffic through the park moves slowwwwwwly. The maximum speed limit is 45 mph, and there are so many campers and RVs, it often moves even more slowly. And whenever an animal is spotted, traffic quickly slows to a crawl. At one point, it came to a complete stop because there was a herd of buffalo in the road! That was so cool, we didn’t even care.
We made it to the campground with about 30 minutes to set up our tent before dark, and were pleased with our decision to reserve a spot in the “tent village.” This was a hexagonal arrangement, with the “spokes” offering each of six camp sites fencing on the sides, and a small covered patio with counter top and storage. It was cool and windy and we were grateful for the site’s electric light and buffer from the wind.