Monday, June 23, 2008

Along the raging river

We are at the Eagle Creek campground,
right on the north fork of the Shoshone River, in the Shoshone National Forest (map).

What a difference from inside the park. Despite being a mere eight miles from the park's east entrance, and the closest open campground in this direction, only seven of the 21 sites here were occupied last night -- two thirds empty. That's in stark contrast to the campgrounds within the park, which have been filling completely every night.

The fee here is $15 per night, which is actually a buck more than we paid at Mammoth, and three dollars more than we paid at Norris. But checkout here is a sensible 2pm, and, since we arrived around 1:00 or so, we'll have gotten our money's worth at 25 hours in the site. While in Yellowstone, the Park Service booted us out at 10am -- we've normally just finished our coffee at that hour.

We had an uneventful and scenic drive over the hill and out of the park, stopping briefly at the Fishing Bridge visitor center, and picking up a couple of items at the general store there. After leaving the east entrance we passed the Pahaska Teepee, which is not a teepee at all but rather a "resort" (by which I mean a handful of cabins, a restaurant, a gas station, and, of course, a gift shop) built around Buffalo Bill's original 1904 hunting lodge, on the national register of historic places.

Our official Forest Service map showed a campground at Pahaska, but none was to be found. I think it is now just a trailhead for horse packers. In another mile or two we came to Three Mile campground, which is still closed for the season -- it's been a late spring here. A little beyond that, our map showed another campground at Sleeping Giant, and, while that facility very clearly was once a campground, complete with tables, fire rings, bear boxes, lantern hangers, and vault toilets, it is now only a picnic area and is closed after 9pm.

That brought us here to Eagle Creek, the very next option. We pulled in to check it out, expecting it to be mostly full. We were pleasantly surprised to get this spot right on the river, with a clear view to the satellite. Even though it was early in the day, and there are several more campgrounds east of here, we did not want to pass up this perfect spot, so we grabbed it. Previous occupants had left us a couple days' worth of cut firewood, as a bonus.

This is a great spot, and if we were not running short of both supplies and time, we would stay here a few days, and set the hot tub up (the river is, once again, within pumping distance). But we really need a real grocery store, and some scooter supplies (we are both due for oil changes), plus we'd rather have a leisurely drive over several days than to hustle the last 300 miles to Gillette. So we'll hang here until checkout time, then proceed a mere 45 miles or so to Cody this afternoon, where we know we can stock up.

We pulled the big scooter out yesterday and rode three miles or so back up the hill to the historic Shoshone Lodge for dinner. Less of a tourist trap than Pahaska and a mile or so closer, we found the staff friendly and the food good. We were surprised to be among only a small handful in the dining room, considering the cabins are fully booked. We ate early, though (6:30), and we suspect many guests don't come back out of the park until closer to dark.

The river here is very high and very fast right now. Every few minutes, a log, or sometimes an entire tree -- root ball, needles, and all -- comes racing downstream, occasionally to be snagged on a debris jam just beyond our little bend here at the confluence with Eagle Creek. We've seen five raftloads of tourists come downstream as well, outfitters hard at work at the oars steering around the debris.

We have yet to spot any bear, even though this is prime grizzly territory. So much so that this campground, as well as the yet-to-open Three Mile upstream, are now posted "hard sided" RV's only -- no tents or pop-ups. The ubiquitous bear boxes, lantern hangers, and vault toilets belie the fact that tents were once allowed here -- we can only guess that an "incident" in the past changed the Forest Service policy here. Apparently, tents are allowed in the lower and more open country to the east.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!