The Worralls Go West: Day 5 (Yellowstone)
So…yesterday morning we woke up to find ourselves here:
Tatum’s Haven doesn’t look like much from the outside. But the inside is adorable and the setting is idyllic. This is the remote cabin experience that I wanted us to have while out in the Wild West.
We ate breakfast on the porch and then explored the property for a little while. This “expotition” included several games of Poohsticks in the little stream.
Then we climbed back in the car and headed off to explore Yellowstone for the day.
By the time I was able to make our reservations for this trip, most accommodations in or near Yellowstone were fully booked. So Tatum’s Haven is a bit further from the center of Yellowstone than I originally intended. (It’s a full 3-hour drive to Old Faithful, for example.) However, the location actually worked perfectly for us in the end.
Peter has a soft spot for a stretch of road called Beartooth Highway. In 1991 his dad took him through Beartooth Pass on an epic road trip around the entire USA. A big reason we travel as we do—seeing as many sights as possible, not staying too long in any one spot—is Peter’s dad. He was the king of road trips, and Peter grew up taking trips like this all over Europe every summer. You can read more about Dad Worrall and some of our early road trips here: “Saying Goodbye to the Center of the Universe.”
Peter’s dad loved Beartooth Highway, and he enjoyed showing me this gem on our family road trip in 2000, during the first summer that Peter and I were married. CBS Journalist Charles Kuralt once called the Beartooth Highway “the most beautiful drive in America.” And we couldn’t wait to show the kids.
So yesterday we drove north from Tatum’s Haven on Hwy 72 into Montana. We turned and went west on Hwy 308, and then south on Hwy 212 at Red Lodge, where we picked up the Beartooth Highway.
It is stunning, taking you all the way to the summit at 10,947 feet. We even stopped for a little snowball fight.
Between the Beartooth Pass and Yellowstone is Cooke City, a tiny mountain town that is a year-round destination for hikers and skiers and snowmobilers. We had a yummy sandwich lunch at Buns and Beds, and then headed into Yellowstone via the Northeast Entrance.
We worked our way around Yellowstone, following a counterclockwise route—taking in the Mammoth Hot Springs, the Norris Geyser Basin, Paintpot Hill, multiple waterfalls and natural springs. We saw a bison herd, some mule deer, a coyote, and even a elk taking a bath in the hot spring. We spent many hours in the car again in order to cover so much territory, but no one seemed to mind. There was so much unique beauty to enjoy.
Near dusk we were approaching Old Faithful—the final major site that we wanted to see. As we were driving into the parking lot, we could see a geyser spraying over the tops of the trees.
You probably know that Old Faithful erupts approximately every 90 minutes, so we thought we had just missed our chance to see it erupt up close. But we parked and walked over to have a look anyhow. As we were nearing Old Faithful, we could see that crowds of people were gathering around her. We hadn’t missed it at all. In fact, we were arriving at just the right time. Apparently it was Split Cone Geyser that we had seen erupting moments before.
So we were blessed with a beautiful view of Old Faithful to finish another lovely day.
If you haven’t been to Yellowstone National Park, please put it on your bucket list. I had only been once before yesterday—on that 2000 road trip with my then-new in-laws. Because of my parents’ disabilities, we didn’t take many family vacations. When I was in my 20s, I was bit badly by the travel bug and went to several destinations around the country and around the world.
So both Peter and I are passionate about showing our kids as much of this great globe as we can manage. It puts many things into perspective when you get out of your small corner and see what else God is up to.
As we were driving back to Tatum’s Haven last night, I said to Peter, “I just wish we had a whole week here.”
“I don’t,” Peter answered with a smile. “I like to keep moving.”
He certainly is his father’s son.