July, 1989

25 June
1 July
Independence Rock
Grand Teton
Ritzville WA
Mt Rainer
Mt St Helens
Grants Pass
Green River

A trip that began with something of an Oregon Trail theme, and turned into a tour of several national parks: Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Mount Rainer, Mt St. Helens, Oregon Caves, and Arches.


I left Wichita Saturday afternoon traveling north to Salina and then west. I didn't bother with taking any pictures until I reached Denver.


You can see the Rocky Mountains to the west. The shot is taken from the steps of the Denver Natural History museum.

I left Denver heading west on 1-80. At the top of the hill The Eisenhower tunnel cuts below Loveland Pass.  Oddly enough, I have never ridden the old Loveland Pass road. I'll do it someday.

This shot is of the east entrance to the tunnel, which is something less than two miles long.

From Denver I headed to Dillon (staying on the Interstate) and then turned north an Highway 9, through the town of Kremmling, and then over Muddy Pass to Walden and across the border to Wyoming on Highway 230 through the town of Saratoga.


This monument marks the Platte River crossing of the Overland Trail not far from Saratoga (not to be confused with the Oregon Trail; the Overland was the stage route, not the route of the pioneers). In places the dirt road is on the trail and in others it's still possible to see the old trail markings.


From Walcott I headed east on the old Lincoln Highway (now highway 30) to Medicine Bow (after getting a warning ticket by a friendly Wyoming trooper). This town was the setting of the novel "The Virginian."

From Medicine Bow I kept north to near Casper and then turned west to Independence Rock, where I spent the night in a rest area (it said "no camping" but I didn't think they meant it).

The rock was well covered with graffiti, both old and more recent. This was one of the most famous landmarks on the Oregon trail and I sure hit it on the right date.  The next day was Independence day. Generally, it was a good rule to be at this point by July 4 to avoid the snows in the Blue Mountains.  This year was the 149th anniversary of the trail.

Staying on the route of the trail, this is the view looking west from Devils Gate. The Oregon Trail follows the Sweetwater River through the valley.

Devils Gate. The Oregon Trail passed right through it. The old highway did too, but the newer one passes to the south of the narrow opening in the rocks.

Split Rock and the Oregon Trail.

From Split Rock I continued to follow the Oregon Trail using highway 287 until the trail turned somewhat south along the Antelope Hills and I continued on to Lander where I had breakfast. The photo (blow) is taken looking north toward Lander from highway 28.  Very little has changed in the last 150 years.

The town of Atlantic City is a near-deserted old gold town well off of the main highway.

The gravel road through here was not too good, but it served to keep the tourists away. I had lunch in an old cafe, and then played horseshoes with a kid.

If Atlantic City is almost a ghost town, then the town of South Pass qualifies. Aside from the name this town had little to do with the Oregon Trail, being an old gold rush era town. It is being restored by the state of Wyoming.

The school was last used as recently as in the late sixties. South Pass; home of the first woman Justice of the Peace in the world--or so the sign said.


I had several miles of dirt road to ride in getting from South Pass back to the highway. When I stopped the bike, it was very, very quiet. Not much traffic, I shouldn't think. In any case, I saw no other vehicles.

This is the real South Pass of the Oregon Trail. This is the low and easy pass over the Rocky Mountains that made the trail at all possible. It's discovery made all the difference to the country. I've always found it interesting, that a mountain pass as important as this was, remains much the way it was. For various reasons (related to the needs of steam engines), the transcontinental railroad took a different route, and the Interstate doesn't even come close to this place.

One of several trail markers.


The 'Parting of the Ways'. The trail straight ahead (you will note the different color of the brush as a wide band just to the left of the dirt road--that's the original trail) leads to California, and the one to the right to Oregon. There were actually several places along the trail where a person could make this choice, so it wasn't quite as defining as the monument (below) makes it out to be.

Farson, Wyoming. The temperature by this time was well into the nineties so I stopped here to cool off for a bit.

There isn't much more to this town than this single impressive building.

From Farson I headed north to Pinedale and then into Jackson. This is a shot of the Grand Teton Mountains from within the park. Not shown are all the Japanese tourists behind me taking pictures of my motorcycle (being that Moto Guzzi is not widely available in Japan).

Jackson Lake, in Grand Teton Park:

I attended an evening ranger program (as I camped in the park, that night) on hawks and owls and eagles and such. Notice the (stuffed) owl under her right arm. There were lots and lots of insects.

Jackson Lake, again. I had time to do quite a bit of hiking.

Grant Village ,Yellowstone. I stopped at the service station here to change my oil. Oil is not cheap in this park. But, at least they've always been considerate and have allowed me to change my own oil at this service station.

Yes, it's another picture of Old Faithful. I have no idea who that person is, but it was so hot there that I saw no point in moving for a different picture.


Gibbon Falls, Yellowstone. Some of the burned hills are visible in the picture. Overall I didn't think the burned areas detracted one bit from the scenery.

There are many meadows in the park that look just like these:



Yellowstone Falls (or rather, what's downstream from the falls):

Yellowstone Falls

This trip gave me the opportunity of driving around the east road. Most tourists stay on the west roads, so I had this half of the park pretty much to myself. This was one of the prettiest areas.


Just one of several similar building at Park Headquarters at Mammoth Hot Springs.  There's a very nice museum of the history of the park, here.

The old main park entrance--it's not really used anymore, and it's easily possible to enter the park without ever seeing this gate.

From Yellowstone I headed north to Livingston and then west through Bozeman and on to Butte where I spent the night. The photo is taken looking south from downtown Butte--a town that has seen better days.

The mines may all be closing, but they do have a terrific mining museum in Butte. Worthwhile.

Anaconda, Montana:

I was avoiding the freeway and so followed the old ore railroad tracks through Philipsburg along the Flint Creek. The tracks are no longer used.

Near the top of the pass along Montana Highway 1.


That's Flint creek to the right along with the old tracks. The Bitterroot range can be seen in the distance (at least, I think that's what it is).

This is a small restaurant in St Regis Montana that I've stopped at before. I had a rhubarb milkshake. The last time, I had a gooseberry milkshake.


Silver smelters near Wallace, Idaho.

Downtown Wallace. There is a gap in the Interstate system as the freeway ends at either side of Wallace.

A tourist-trolley at the entrance to a mine. The tour took about 40 minutes and was the best mine tours I've ever been on. This is just up the hill from Wallace.


I spent the night in Ritzville, Washington and then rode on to the Colombia River.

Washington Gingko State Park petroglyphs. These are the real thing. It is nice that the rangers are so trusting, but I would worry that someone might try to destroy these some day just for the fun of it.


A Gingko tree. A very rare tree I gathered. Of course, now, you can just buy a Gingko tree at a nursery, but these Gingko trees are native to the area.

I rode south along Highway 243 (along the river) and then west along highway 24 (through Hanford) to Yakima. There isn't anything noteworthy about this shot except that I filled up here. Neat looking old station, though.

Taken from the top of the grade along highway 410 into Mount Rainier Park. The highway cut is pretty obvious in the photograph.

Mount Rainier. I could not have had better weather. It was cool enough to require a jacket, but still clear and calm. Perfect.

The road to Rainier.

The Lodge at Rainier. I only hiked up the snow trail a short distance. Someday I'll stay here. Not today, though.


The top looks so very close. It isn't.

With few exceptions, the roads within the park were well maintained and well engineered. Good riding.

From Rainier I headed west to Elbe, south to Marton, east to Randle (where I ate dinner), and then south to the information center of Mount St Helens.  Since the big blow-up they haven't had time to put up any permanent buildings.  I'd imagine that very soon there will be a real visitors center.

The devastation was stunning.


I like this shot. I had to hustle up the road to see all this before the sun went down. And, I still wanted to get back to camp before it became dark.


That's Mount Adams in the distance.


I rode back to the campground at the information center and spent the night.

Getting from St. Helens down to the Columbia River was not easy.

 The roads are not paved, and they are barely marked. I really was riding the wrong sort of motorcycle as these were little more than fire roads. No matter.

Over the Bridge-of-the-Gods near Cascade Locks, then lunch.


Oregon State Capitol in Salem. I've got to say that this is one of the ugliest capitol buildings around. It looks like a tomb.

On the Capitol grounds. It was nice to see this sign in Salem.


From Grants Pass I headed south on highway 199' to Oregon Caves. It's not one of the popular (or, even known) national parks, but I like the area. This is the tour guide at the entrance to the caves.


Of course, I did not take any pictures in the caves (considering that the disposable camera does not have a flash).


Pacific Ocean. Becky and I used her car to explore the coast area south of Arcata.

Ferndale, California

Cape Mendocino


Becky took this shot of me watching the crossing of a short passenger train in Arcata.


From Arcata I continued on to Sacramento and then on across Nevada on 1-80 to the Bonneville Salt Flats.

This is a museum of the land speed record cars in Wendover, Utah. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but this is a terrific museum. Examples of most all the record setting cars, and it covers everything you'd want to know about the land speed record.


The Bonneville Salt Flats.

Sometimes big ideas just don't pan out...

Copper mines near Salt Lake City. While riding through the city it started raining so hard that I could hardly see ahead of me. And since cars were starting to stop on the freeway I decided to exit and wait it out. Smart move

From Salt Lake City I headed south to Price though coal country.

An obvious coal vein along the road and a monument and listing of those killed in a single coal mine accident in the early part of the century.


I stopped in Helper, Utah to visit their mining museum but it was closed because of 'air-conditioning problems'.

Helper, Utah (so named because of the helper engines that were attached to the trains)

From Price I went down to Green River and then south to Arches National Park. This is the visitor's center.

Arches National Park:



I thought that these Japanese tourists with their parasols and summer dresses looked quite graceful.

From Arches I headed south to La Sal and then east along highway 46.


From Naturita I took highway 145 to Placerville, and then 62 to Ridgeway and Montrose.  A spectacular area.

Near Dallas Divide in Colorado:

From Montrose I went north to Delta and then east to Glenwood Springs over a really gorgeous highway, that had only recently been paved.

Old coke ovens near Redstone Colorado.

No, I didn't stay here.

The old silver town of Silver Plume -- not too far from Denver.



The Paris Hotel in Georgetown, Colorado. It was Bastille Day and the Hotel was open to tourists. There was even a French Family staying there at the time and I was able to cut some commemorative balloons from a street light and give to them (with the hotel manager's approval)

Denver, Colorado from Lookout Mountain. This is where Buffalo Bill Cody is buried.

The Coors brewery in Golden.


I stopped at the Fick Fossil Museum in Kansas, on the way back.

Good trip. Just about 5,100 miles


last edit: 4/13/2008