In 2018 I will feature a random (yet alphabetical) selection of photos I have taken from my nearly 20 years of back roads travel in the United States and Canada. I may even throw in a few random shots from other trips to Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. My theme is called America’s Back Roads: A Grab Bag of Places in Pictures.
Yellowstone National Park – West Yellowstone, Montana ; Gardiner, Montana
If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon. My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, will be available in late April or early May 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.
I love visiting all of the offbeat and quirky places when I’m out on the road. But, I must confess that I am also addicted to the beauty of nature in all its forms.
One of the more splendid beautiful objects of nature is the waterfall. Every state in the country has waterfalls, those though some are more magnificent than others.
Like millions of other tourists, I have most certainly been to Niagara Falls on the Canadian side and to American Falls on the American side. These are beyond spectacular!
Though the roar of Niagara Falls will always be in the back of my mind, there are others that I’ve drawn me closer in that I have enjoyed.
When I made my first trip to Portland Oregon in 2011, one of my main objectives besides visiting voodoo doughnut, was to visit Multnomah Falls. Of course you know that one! That’s that beautiful tall waterfall with a bridge going in front of it that shows up all over the place.
When I first saw photograph of that waterfall I had to research and find out what it’s name was and where it was and when I realized it was in Oregon it became the top of my list to get to and I didn’t make it.
The wonderful thing about going to Multnomah is that there are numerous other waterfalls along the highway before you get there. So, along the way I did drop by to see a couple of them. In their own right, these are beautiful waterfalls.
Over the years and over the miles on my road trips, I have made it a point to visit waterfalls and in some cases have just come across some.
One of those that I made a point to get to was the beautiful waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park. The Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River are magnificent. Of course, this canyon in Yellowstone was forged by the river. The walls of the canyon a filled with stone that is yellow and this is where the actual name of the park comes from.
Yellowstone has numerous waterfalls, but none as glorious as this one. Indeed, this has to be one of America’s greatest waterfalls to visit. I certainly was in awe.
Another of the classic waterfalls that I have enjoyed thoroughly is right here in my own state of Kentucky. Cumberland Falls is down in Southern Kentucky near the Tennessee border. This lovely waterfall is similar to Niagara Falls, but of course, not nearly is huge. The falls themselves are beautiful, but this waterfall is also known for its famed “Moonbow”, something which I have yet to witness. Sometime….
One more waterfall of note today must include in this is in the desert of Arizona of all places. This waterfall is typically only visible in the springtime as the remainder of the year there’s typically nothing but a trickle. I am referring to the Grand Falls of the Little Colorado River. This large stairstep waterfall is located east of the Grand Canyon near Cameron, AZ. The Little Colorado River always flows red because of all of the red sandstone. When there are heavy rains in the spring, the falls can be seen in their magnificence. As a tour guide in Flagstaff in the 1980s, I was able to visit Grand Falls numerous times. And I’ve been able to pick up a couple of wonderful photos of it.
Most of the waterfalls I’ve noted above are not in the middle of towns, but on the outskirts are far removed. There are, however, some waterfalls that can be seen within towns. Perhaps one of the most interesting is the town of Chagrin Falls in Ohio. This town is south of Cleveland and actually has two waterfalls flowing right through the middle of town. You can stand on one bridge and look at one fall to your left and one to the right. The town is a little tourist attraction because of the falls and has restaurants that reside right on the edge of the falls to where you can eat and look at the beauty of the falls. On our visit in 2016 we did not have time to sit down and eat there but we still got to enjoy the waterfall.
Another set of lovely waterfalls in the middle of a town are those in Idaho Falls, Idaho. From the waterfalls you can actually view the Idaho Falls Temple of the Mormon church but also enjoy the lovely view of the falls from the pathways to go along it.
Heading east from Idaho Falls to Montana, there are the famed Great Falls of the Missouri River located in, you got it, Great Falls, MT. Back in the days when Lewis and Clark we’re traversing the Missouri River, they came across the falls and all of their glory but now the falls have been dammed up a bit. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful sight to visit.
The same Lewis and Clark start of their adventure on another river waterfall in Kentucky and Indiana as they passed by the falls of the Ohio River. Today, these falls or not so exciting to see as they probably were back in the days of Lewis and Clark.
For the real fan of waterfalls, perhaps the best thing to do is go into Hamilton, Ontario northwest of Niagara Falls. There are a number of waterfalls that feed into the Niagara River eventually. One can walk literally to the side of many of these waterfalls and look down. There is Tews Falls and a couple of others that were very nice and easily can all be seen the same day as one sees Niagara Falls.
I have yet to hit many of the huge waterfalls in California. I have missed some of the other big ones in the United States and Canada as well, but I’ve been fortunate enough to see a number of them. In the following photos you will see a few other waterfalls including one in Alaska and some from other points across the United States.
When you are on the back roads of America, always keep your eye open for a sign to a waterfall. You’ll be glad that you did.
On June 2, 2013 I continued my trip westward from Lexington thru South Dakota and into Wyoming. On this leg I started in Gillette, Wyoming and made my way to Rexburg with a trip through Yellowstone National Park.
Gillette, Wyoming is the first large town in Wyoming on the western end of I-90. It was incorporated in 1892 and is now called the “Energy Capital of the Nation” due to the high grade coal reserves as well as nearly 13,000 oil wells.
Downtown Gillette is not too large, but, along the main street there are a number of sculptures and a great wall mural. The mural above was done by Gillette artist Harvey Jackson, who has murals throughout Wyoming including a giant mural on the side of L &H Industrial in Gillette called “Campbell County Industrial Mural“, which is twice as large as Mt. Rushmore.
Gillette has a Mayor’s Art Council which features an “Avenue of the Arts” annually. They have a number of pieces made and display them on the Main Street through town and then auction them. Here are a few that I took while driving through town.
Gillette is also home to the “Rockpile Museum.” This Campbell County Museum focuses on general, regional, and local history with an emphasis on the culture and people of Campbell County. It was opened in 1974 at the site of the historic natural rockpile, which has been a piece of Gillette history since the 1890s.
From Gillette I headed west towards Buffalo, Wyoming on I-90. It was a beautiful day heading into the mountains of Wyoming. There were some nice views and I also saw some antelope.
Buffalo, Wyoming is a nice small town in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains.
The sculpture above is called “Cool Water” and was done by Buffalo artist D. Michael Thomas, who has been sculpting cowboy themed pieces for over 30 years.
The road from Buffalo, WY to Cody, WY has mountain majesties, wondrous wildflowers and amazing canyons. Following is some of what I was able to see along US Route 16.
There are lots of wildflowers in bloom. The yellow ones closeup look like this
Worland, Wyoming is also home to the Washakie Museum which features exhibits that portrays the history of the Big Horn Basin. It is also home to a giant Mammoth Bronze statue. The statue is 25 feet tall and weighs 6000 pounds. It is the work of Casper, Wyoming (and Sedona, AZ) artist Chris Navarro.
From Worland I headed north on US 20 towards Greybull and then west on US 14/16/20 towards Cody. This provided some great scenes of the mountains of Yellowstone.
I eventually arrived in Cody, Wyoming by late morning. Named after William “Buffalo Bill” Cody who was one of the founders of the town. There is plenty in town of you are a Buffalo Bill (and I don’t mean football) fan!
The grizzly above is part of a Cody fundraising program called “The Grizzly Gathering“, which was created to raise funds for their library. Many towns are doing similar things. We had the horses in Lexington (“Horse Mania“) and I have seen buffaloes (“Buffalo Roam” project in West Yellowstone, WY), birds, etc., as I go through some towns.
The mural above is on the wall of Seidel’s Saddlery in Cody. It was painted by Colorado Austin Kuck.
Of course, like many older towns in the west, there is still plenty of neon….
Then, of course, there are the many Buffalo Bill items in town…
The Scoutis a bronze statue of a mounted rider outside the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody. It was placed in 1924 to commemorate the town’s most famous resident, Buffalo Bill Cody. Originally in open land on the western outskirts of town, the statue today stands at the end of Sheridan Avenue. The project was initiated by Cody’s niece, Mary Jester Allen, who had established the basis of what would become the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. A New Yorker, she persuaded heiress and artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney to sculpt the piece.
The above bronze was done by Peter Fillerup of Heber, Utah. It represents a younger Buffalo Bill as a Pony Express Rider.
From Cody I was next on my way to Yellowstone, continuing along the same highway. As I got closer there were more spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains and other unique things as well.
Then there is the famously unique Smith Mansion high up on a hill in Wapiti. This 40 year old structure was the brainchild of Wyoming artist Lee Smith. Smith spent his life, and eventually tragically ended it building this unique house for his family. He fell to his death at the age of 48 in 1992. The home is 5 stories tall, has numerous staircases and rooms and hidden entrances. There is a great deal written about this odd place. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to venture up there, but I did get a good shot from below.
From Wapiti the road winds slowly into the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park.
The last time I visited Yellowstone National Park was in 1973 while my family lived in Bozeman, Montana. So, it has been about 40 years since then. Much has changed, but much has remained the same (or at least appears to have – we all know that geology is also ever changing).
In the lower 48 states there are many magnificent National Parks including my personal Big Five of Yellowstone (WY), the Grand Canyon (AZ), Glacier National Park (MT), Zions National Park (UT) and Grand Teton National Park (WY). There are many others ( I probably would have included Yosemite, but I have not been there yet). Indeed, I may be known for my visiting offbeat and quirky sites, but don’t let that fool you. I am enamored by the amazing geographic and historical diversity of this country. But, I have only made it to 22 of the nation’s 59 national parks thus far. I dream of getting to Denali in Alaska and the North Cascades in Washington, along with Yosemite. (Here is a complete list of the National Parks)
Unfortunately, I did not have a lot of time on this trip, so I tried to hit the highlights I could on the Grand Loop Road through the park to West Yellowstone. Here are a few scenes from the drive, some without any captions.
SCENES OF YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
Buffalo and Elk in Yellowstone Park
Of course, everyone knows that wild buffalo roam Yellowstone National Park, as elk as do deer, elk, moose, antelope, mountain goats, bears and more. Unfortunately, all I saw were the buffalo (and almost hit one too!!). I saw a couple of elk as well. I heard from a few other tourists that they saw some bears hanging around the rivers, but I didn’t see any.
As I noted above, I almost ran into a HUGE buffalo while driving through the park. I rounded a corner and there he was crossing into the road almost in front of me. This guy was taller than my car and could care less about me rounding the corner. He just kept meandering across the road casually.
Alas, I eventually made my way to the road out towards West Yellowstone and into Montana.
West Yellowstone still has some of the old motels from ages past. Here are a few of the Ho-Hum Du
I finally made it into Rexburg late that evening…what a fantastic day this was!!