We woke up on Sunday morning and did a double check: nope, not dreaming, parks still closed, Congress still run by selfish asses. Grr. So instead, we decided to head out on a recommended wildlife-spotting loop for spring when the snow has not yet melted, followed by a visit to Big Sky. We drove around Hebgen Lake and did not see any wildlife, but we did see the fascinating remnants of an earthquake that decimated a local recreation area and essentially created a new lake. It was windy and 25 degrees, though, so we didn’t linger.

Memorial for the people killed in the earthquake. This giant boulder actually rolled from the mountainside across the river up to its current resting place!

Then we decided to head up 191 towards Big Sky. 191 cuts through the northwest corner of Yellowstone, and as we drove north I kept my eye open for wildlife. It wasn’t long before I blurted out “hey look, there’s a horse. I mean moose!”

Mr Moose was wandering across the open meadows next to the highway and we stopped to let him cross. I’m sure stopping violated some stupid “the park is closed” rule, but Mr Moose don’t care. David laughed at me about the horse thing.

After Mr Moose safely disappeared into the trees on the other side of the road, we continued north. Near some open brushy hills, David blurted out “this sure looks like elf country. I mean elk country.”

So…to recap:

Me: Horse = moose

David: Elf = Elk

I think I come out on the winning side of that.

In Big Sky we hiked to Ousel Falls and it was quite beautiful and reminded me of some of the waterfalls we’ve visited in Arkansas.

It was a short hike, so we headed further up the road to Beehive Meadow. It was a beautiful area but we only hiked about a mile and a half in before turning around since the trail was super muddy from the melting recent snow. The views from our turnaround point were spectacular, though!

Back down in town we continued our brewery tour by stopping at Lone Peak brewery for lunch and a sampler. The sampler came on a repurposed ski – very cool. The beers were solid and my lunch was crazy. I ordered the prime rib dip sandwich, assuming it would be like any other shaved prime rib sandwich. No, they actually throw a full sized prime rib steak on a toasted parmesan roll and serve it up like a sandwich. Right, I’ll just be over here with my knife and fork.

Sampler paddle made of an old ski:

 

My insane sandwich:

 

Big Sky was quiet since it is in between seasons but it reminded me a lot of Mammoth Lakes, minus the LA crowd (that’s a good thing).

From Big Sky we drove up to Bozeman for no reason in particular, except that the timing on the return drive would be good for wildlife. After wandering the streets of downtown we stopped in at Montana Ale Works for a sample of some local IPAs, then headed back to West Yellowstone the way we came. We didn’t see much except a very large eagle with an impressive wingspan landing along the river – but no pulling over for photos since it was in the park!

 

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