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Yellowstone/Grand Teton Trip

Day 2 of 11

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Saturday, July 23rd
Drive to Yellowstone

It was a hot day in Salt Lake City when we left the hotel in the morning. We stopped at a local grocery store to buy groceries and ice for the first part of our camping trip. After re-packing everything into the cooler and re-organizing the car, we finally departed Salt Lake City around 12:45pm.

We basically took Interstate 15 north to Highway 20 to the small gateway town of West Yellowstone, stopping for lunch, gas, and a brief shopping stop in West Yellowstone. Then we entered the park itself, and about 15 miles later reached our destination for the day, Madison Campground in Yellowstone, around 7:15pm.

We'd reserved a site at Madison for 5 nights, about two and a half months earlier. I'd chosen Madison for no other reason than Canyon (my first choice) was already booked. You can reserve sites online, but cannot make a site-specific reservation (a site is assigned to you). There's someone on duty at the check-in desk until 10pm, and they also sell firewood and ice. However, there are no concessions in the Madison area. For that (laundry, showers, groceries, etc.), the closest options are West Yellowstone and the Old Faithful area.

There are 8 different sections at the campsite, with the last two (G and H) being for tents only (we were in G). Each site has a picnic table, a fire ring, and a roughly 12 foot square gravel area in which to pitch a tent. Some sites have bear boxes, which are supposed to be shared. Other sites (such as ours) do not have bear boxes. Campers are instructed to either use the bear boxes, or place their scented items (food, sunscreen, etc.) in a hard-sided vehicle. I don't know why not all sites have bear boxes. It would make it a lot easier; without a box, we had to constantly shuffle items in and out of the car, rearranging things in the car each time. Perhaps it's simply a matter of cost, and all the sites will eventually have boxes.

The tent sites are very close together. A tent in the next site over was less than 20 feet from ours. Thankfully, they were pretty quiet. We were also relatively close to the bathrooms, which thankfully had flush toilets, toilet paper, sinks with running water, and even liquid soap and paper towels. Quite luxurious for camping.

After setting up our camp and having dinner, we went over to the campground amphitheater for a 9:30pm campfire program. Tonight's program (there's one every night during summer) was on the grizzly bear. We were keenly aware that a hiker had been killed by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone just a couple weeks ago, so we listened intently. The speaker strongly suggested carrying bear spray, and we agreed that we'd buy some the next day.

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