Notes from the National Parks of the West


Banff Springs Hotel

Tuesday, September 4, 2018


We arrived in this beautiful spot around noon today from Calgary. We’re half way through our trip.

We flew from San Diego to Salt Lake City last Wednesday, and spent the night in Ogden. The next day we drove up to Teton National Park. On the way, near Soda Springs, Idaho, we visited an historical site where you can still see the path of the Oregon Trail immigrants. My great-grandfather, William McCown and his extensive family, traveled over that trail in    1852.20180830_114436

I like believe that the Grand Tetons probably got their name from the branch of Sioux by that name rather than a French work for a part of the female anatomy, but that may be my feminist prejudice showing. They are overwhelming. We spent the night, and a considerable fortune staying at the Four Seasons. That was underwhelming. The last time we had splurged on a Four Seasons was about 18 years ago in Istanbul, Turkey. That had been a fantastic experience. In the Teton Village branch, every time you turned around, they charged for an upgrade. The food was very good, but about four prices.

There were no bears to greet us when we drove into Yellowstone the next day. The last time I had visited the park, I was about six years old, in 1951 (?), and I can still remember all the bears begging for food as my father drove our Desoto station wagon into the park. The only other think I remember from that first visit was the herds of buffalo and Old Faithful. Well, Old Faithful is still there, but we saw only to young male bison, and no bears. I’m sure the bears are much healthier now that people are no longer allowed to feed them.

We started our visit to Yellowstone at the West Thumb Geyser Basin. The West Thumb is a portion of the Yellowstone Lake. There is no East Thumb, but there is a South Arm and a Southwest Arm. The West Thumb is thought to be a caldera from one of the many volcanic explosions in Yellowstone’s geological past. We learned that the thermal hot springs pools varied in color due to a variation in their temperatures. The most beautiful clear blue pools, aare that way because their temperatures are over 140 degrees Farenheit, and nothing can live in them.20180831_131113_001 (1)

We traveled around the northwest shore of the lake, then north to see the mud volcano, then back to the lake and west to Old Faithful. We too a ranger led tour about the history of Old Faithful, the Old Faithful Inn, and Yellowstone Park as we traveled around Old Faithful, which faithfully went off about halfway through the tour. I have a new phone, and was having a disagreement with it, evidently, while I tried to take a picture of the geyser spouting, so didn’t get a picture. The phone has a good camera, but it changes setting if I hold my tongue wrong or something.

We spent that night at the Old Faithful Inn in the older of the two wings—1920’s sometime. We ate dinner at the Inn, and the food was good and prices reasonable, and the wait interminable. As we were leaving the Inn the next day, the Steamboad Geyser went off—much bigger than Old Faithful, but not nearly as predictable.

The next day we traveled to the Mammoth Hot Springs, stopping along the way at many varied hot springs and geysers. The Mommoth Hot Springs terraces were one of the highlights of our visit.

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We then traveled east to Tower Fall and then south through the Dunraven pass to Canyon. The scenery was spectacular, and from the pass we caught another glimpse of the Tetons. In the foreground of this picture, you can see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.20180901_155315_001 (1)

We spent the night at the new hotel in Canyon, and again had a good, reasonably priced dinner.

The next day, before setting out to our next destination we took the Canyon Rim Road, and caught a view of the Lower Falls with a rainbow.20180902_083906

Now our next destination was to have been Whitefish on the west side if Glacier National Park. However, we found out that our Glacier National Park was closed due to the fire, so we made reservations in Great Falls, Montana instead. That way, we could visit the Canadian part of Glacier National Park, which was open.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Chateau Lake Louise

Great Falls Montana is a very pleasant city, with a definite western flavor. The stores in the strip mall near our hotel were very much like those you find in Escondido, but then, so did the stores in the strip mall in Airdrie, a town, really a suburb, north of Calgary, where we spent the next night.

From Great Falls we traveled northwest to the east side of Glacier National Park, and actually went through Saint Mary, the eastern entrance to the park. On the way we had some beautiful views, but then it clouded over, and was raining by the time we got to the Canadian Park, which was very beautiful, even though we couldn’t see very far up the mountains. Our best views were from Highway 17 towards the park.

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The drive from Airdrie to Banff was really spectacular, but our drive yesterday, through the Icefields Pkwy. northwest of our marvelous hotel at Lake Louise. The sun was in the wrong direction to take really good pictures, but I was able to get one that gives some idea of the magnitude of the beautiful views.

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This view is but a sample of the views along the parkway—they were all pretty amazing,


And this is a view from our hotel window here in Lake Louise.





2 thoughts on “Notes from the National Parks of the West

  1. karen nelson

    Nolan and I have done a trip very similar to yours and the scenery is breathtaking. It brought back wonderful memories. Thanks.



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