Somewhere Between the Canyon and the Caldera

February 27, 2013 No Comments

Somewhere Between the Canyon and the Caldera

One of my favorite scenic drives, arguably one of the most scenic in the country, is the stretch of highway between Bozeman, MT and Jackson, WY. Picking up Route 191 in Bozeman, it winds it’s way through the Gallatin Canyon for nearly 100 miles. Paralleling the Gallatin River, it passes multiple trailheads and fly fishing hotspots. It passes Big Sky and then into the town of West Yellowstone. Over the next 100 miles, it makes it’s way through the west end of Yellowstone National Park, gives you a peak at Grand Teton National Park, and enters Jackson, WY.

Honestly, what more could you ask for?

What’s really interesting is how much the landscape changes in this 200 mile stretch. It starts out as a narrow canyon and, after passing Big Sky, quickly opens up. Even the weather changes dramatically. I’ve seen winters where snow cover increases by several feet in the short distance between Big Sky and West Yellowstone.

There’s a very memorable point in the drive just a few miles before West Yellowstone. The canyon opens up and rather than pine trees, a winding river, steep banks and the occasional mountain goat, all you see is a valley in front of you, a mountain vista on the horizon and a peculiar grove of aspens. Tucked away in the aspens is a small cemetery with a narrow dirt road winding through it. If you look out past the valley, you see what is likely the rim of the Yellowstone Caldera. Keep driving and your surroundings quickly change to hot springs and tour busses.

It may not be the main attraction, but I’ve always remembered this small gem amongst miles of captivating countryside. And every time I pass through it, it’s exactly as I remember. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful and it’s somewhere between the canyon and the caldera.

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