Road Trip 2011 – Day 44 – Turpin Meadow & Grizzly Bears and on to Gros Ventre Campground WY

From Bighorn National Forest we made quite a hike to the Teton National Forest area.  It was mostly a scenic drive, though quite a bit of Wyoming landscape was more boring than I expected it to be.  One thing is for sure… no matter which direction you’re driving, within every 15-45 miles you can be sure that the landscape will change drastically which keeps it interesting.  I had no idea there were so many combinations of landscapes.  It’s amazing.

Ben decided to go hiking for a photo and didn’t realize that this snowy area was waist deep when he started walking across the hard top layer.  I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw him fall through and then crawl on hands and knees to the other side!

So, we found the perfect campground at Turpin Meadow Campground.  It was free dispersed camping, Ben scouted around while I sat in the car and found a fire ring overlooking a cliff.  It was perfect.  So, we went on the hunt for a place to buy some dry firewood since it had been raining a bit.  We finally found some at an RV camp convenience type shop.

Unfortunately they didn’t have coffee and I was freezing and really wanting coffee before setting up camp.  So, we went back to a little restaurant we had seen at a nearby lodge.  While waiting for the coffee to brew the man behind the counter somehow found out we were camping nearby and he seemed surprised since apparently there were some “big grizzlies around lately”.  He said you’ll be fine as long as you keep your food in the designated boxes and you have your bear spray.  I said I didn’t have any spray and the campground didn’t have the boxes…and he said well I hope you have a gun!

I was a bit concerned, so when we got back to the camp area thankfully it was still light out.  I was on the visual search for bears.  While driving in, I saw a big black one quickly striding across an open area in the back of a field to my right.  Ben said I was just being paranoid and insisted I just was seeing things and kept driving.  I looked to my left and saw a huge rock that looked like a bear too, so I pointed and said, look there’s one!  Ben said, that’s just a rock… but then it started moving!  It was far enough off the road that we felt comfortable driving down a side road to get a little closer for some photos.  I started taking photos and then realized it had a little cub with it.  They were definitely grizzlies in our campsite.  So, after taking a few photos, we headed out and decided to find a more populated campground!

Just around the corner from the bear ground, I spotted a big moose hanging out in the river so I made Ben turn around to get a better look.  She had gotten out of the river by the time we got turned around and just stood there still as a statue while I took some photos… and then she booked it across the river and unsuccessfully jumped up the other side, fell in, and tried again… successfully:)

We realized we were finally in wildlife country and started seeing all sorts of animals… I love this next one of all the eyes coming out of the pitch dark:)

… and then they ran!

We finally found a great campground at Gros Ventre, just outside Moose, MT.  It had over 300 campsites… so very well populated!

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