Wednesday June 27 – West Yellowstone

It got cooold overnight.  Had to use the furnace this morning and we wore long pants for the first time on the trip.  After packing our picnic lunch and picking up our free cappuccino at the RV Park office, we headed NE to Earthquake Lake. 

 Around 11:30 PM on August 17, 1959, a 7.5 earthquake struck the Madison River Canyon causing a massive landslide that, in only 20 seconds, sent over 80 million tons of rock crashing into the canyon and part way up the other side.  The slide blocked the Madison River and water backed up creating Earthquake Lake – 190 feet deep and 6 miles long.  It took the US Army Corps of Engineers 3 weeks to create a huge spillway across the slide allowing water to flow downstream so the lake would not continue to rise.  Hebgen Lake is just upstream from Earthquake Lake and the landslide.  In a matter of seconds the earth’s crust dropped 19 feet.  The land under Hebgen lake tilted upwards and cabins on the north shore were immersed in water while portions of the south shore lay high and dry.  Hundreds of people were camping in the area at the time of the quake.  A Forest Service campground lies under 100 feet of water and 19 people are still buried under the landslide.  In all 28 people lost their lives and many others were injured.  Memorial Boulder, weighing 3,000 tons, is one of the largest chunks of the southeast side of the canyon that was shoved to the northeast side.  A picture of the boulder is attached.  Note the size of the boulder compared to the two people near its bottom right side.

 We ventured further north to Virginia City – a big disappointment.  It was small and mostly made up of old and made-to-look-old buildings that could not be entered.  Some had old things that you could look in at such as carriages, a reconstructed store and a blacksmith’s shop.  Touristy shops and expensive places to eat were intermingled here and there.  It took us about 15 minutes to walk down one side of the street and back up the other side – and that includes stopping in some of the shops.  In 1864 Virginia City was a Gold Rush town that had a population of over 10,000 and was the largest city in the inland Northwest.  It now is called home by only 132 hardy souls.  A few miles further down the road is Nevada City which is about 10 times smaller than Virginia City.  We found a shady place to park there and ate our lunch in the truck.

 On the way back to our camp we checked out some of the other campgrounds in the West Yellowstone area out of curiosity.  Nothing we saw was anywhere near as nice as where we are staying.  So glad we had reservations.  This place has 290 RV sites, a dozen cabins plus 16 tent sites and is full each night.  The online campground reviews and Google Earth have been very effective in helping find good places to stay.  In some places there isn’t much to choose from but so far we have picked the lesser of the evils in those cases.  After arriving back at camp we noticed some people washing their motorhome. This is a huge no-no in most campgrounds but this one says it is okay.   While Dianne fixed dinner, Wayne washed about 250 pounds of dirt and bugs off the truck and motorhome.  We should get much better gas mileage now!

 So sad to see places we visited in Colorado, including the Air Force Academy, now being evacuated because of the fires.  We have a couple of fires north of us that we will go by on I-90 as we head towards Missoula day after tomorrow but the freeway is open as far as we can tell. 

 Tomorrow we plan to stay around town, do some shopping, geocaching, sightseeing and start getting things ready for leaving the next morning.

 Picture link

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