July 8, 2009
We left Gros Ventre around 10:00 AM for Yellowstone National Park and were warned by the Park Rangers that the road construction on the way to Yellowstone would result in 30 -minute delays making the 100.5 mile trip seem longer. They weren’t kidding! Our first delay was quite interesting. The flagman was a little “tipsy” to say the least. He was having a hard time walking, holding his sign and couldn’t get his radio in his pocket despite multiple tries. At first I thought he might be handicapped in some way but his demeanor said something else. He asked if we had something for him to drink so I gave him some ice tea. He did make the wait interesting as he was dancing around trying to entertain people. We finally got through the first roadblock and had to contend with at least two more along the route. The road was narrow, winding and dirty.
Back on the pavement we were able to make up some time but the going is slow in the area with the average speed of 35 MPH. We didn’t run into any great scenery until we arrived at Yellowstone Lake. Yellowstone Lake is the largest high elevation lake in North America. It encompasses a surface area of 132 square miles and the shoreline is 141 miles long. It is a beautiful lake and is so large it makes its own weather. We stopped by a roadside pullout and had lunch looking out onto the lake with the Absaroka Mountain Range in the background. We figured this may be out best shot a view before getting to the campground.
The signage in the area leaves a lot to be desired and to the imagination. The signs tend to have information on them heading in one direction (not our direction of travel) so needless to say we missed our turn into Fishing Bridge. Fortunately a few hundred yards in front of us there were two large turnouts’ across from each other that made it unnecessary for us to unhook the Jeep to turn the RV around.
We arrived at Fishing Bridge around 4:00 PM. The 100.5 mile trip took us six hours to complete. Fishing Bridge RV Park is the only RV Park in Yellowstone with full hook-ups. It is also the only park within Yellowstone that will not allow any type of RV except hard-sided because of the bear population that frequents the area. The sites in Fishing Bridge are tight and there is no beautiful vista out our front window but it serves the purpose and we don’t plan on living there.
We went t o the visitor center and received great info from the Ranger. We left with lots of brochures and must now plan how to attack seeing the park. The very best info the Park Ranger gave Ron was to take me out to dinner at the Lake Lodge down the street. We have eaten out twice since we left so I was looking forward to not cooking.
In Yellowstone’s early years, those who could afford a “hotel tour” were the well-to-do. Otherwise you camped out hiring locals as guides. William Wallace Wylie gave his first tour of Yellowstone in 1880. He was so good at it he decided to secure a license to operate a series of camps around the Park that featured wooden bases topped with tents of a candy-striped design for accommodations with a large tent for dining. The Wylie Permanent Camping Company did a great business catering to those who chose not to stay in the more expensive hotels.
Lake Lodge was originally built as Wylie’s Lake Camp but in 1916 all the camping companies merged into one, and the new Yellowstone Park Camping Company upgraded the camping facilities. A rustic log building was constructed and by 1926 Lake Lodge was completed and is as popular as it was in the days of W.W. Wylie’s Lake Camp.
The Lodge is quite beautiful with a fireplace hearth that is the biggest we have ever seen. The dining was cafeteria style but was highly recommended by the park Ranger. We opted for the turkey dinner with all the fixing’s. Unfortunately they ran out of stuffing, veggies and buns. Now understand this is their busy season and the Park is loaded with people. I’m not sure who was managing the food inventory but they weren’t doing a great job. We did get some stuffing and Ron got some green beans???? but there were no buns to be had. Despite all that the meal was good and we were charged for the kid’s portion instead of the adult meal----- and I didn’t have to cook.