June, 1998

Last winter when we were trying to decide where to go in June, Alisa wanted to go to the American northwest, and I wanted to go anywhere else, preferably somewhere in Europe.  I knew that a flight from Israel to the northwest would be several flights and take 20 hours or so, and it would have to be a long trip, as whenever I'm in the states, I visit my family as well.  I wanted a shorter trip and to go somewhere closer to home.  In the end, we compromised the way we always do and decided... on the American northwest.
I checked out all the possibilities, and several chatting friends in that area all tried to convince us to visit THEIR area because it was the best place to visit.  So, the route became a Rocky Mountain trip from Yellowstone, through Montana, Glacier Park, Banff in Alberta and ending in Calgary with a visit to the Calgary Stampede!!   It was great!!   Loved every minute!! 

Here's the itinerary....

Jackson Hole 2 nights   1 day visit to Grand Tetons
West Yellowstone  3 nights   3 day visit Yellowstone
Butte, Montana 1 night     stop on the way to Glacier 
Whitefish, Mt 3 nights   visit the Flathead area   and Glacier Park
Banff, Alberta 3 nights   3 days in Banff National Park
Calgary area 3 nights   visit friends in the area and opening night at the Calgery Stampede
Great Falls, Mt. 1 night on the way to Billings
Billings, Mt. last stop and a ride on the Beartooth Highway


If you visit Yellowstone, you have to visit the Grand Tetons as well and that means Jackson Hole.  Jackson is a unique little town and was very entertaining.  Lots of good restaurants and nice shops. On the other hand, It is a bit expensive. We stayed at a motel just outside of town (2 minute car ride) called the Flat Creek Motel.  It was perfectly adequate but nothing special.  The visit to the Grand Tetons was wonderful. The weather was great.  We got to Jenny Lake in the southern area of the park and took a free tour with the Rangers.  It was a very nice way to start the trip and included a boat trip across Jenny Lake (the boat ride wasn't free).  These Ranger tours are available in most National Parks and are well worth taking advantage of.  The Grand Tetons is a park suited for driving around and looking at the mountains, or for doing some serious hiking.


Yellowstone is a real problem for the first time visitor. It's so big and there are so many things to see, that it's tough to decide what to see and where to sleep.  There are two road loops (a southern loop and a northern loop) and 4 or 5 major areas to visit. They are the Yellowstone Lake area, the Yellowstone Canyon area, Tower Falls area, Mammoth Springs, and all the geyser basins.  Each area is worth a full day's visit, but most people (like us) don't have that much time, so we decided on the following program:

1. THE GEYSERS - On the way from Jackson to West Yellowstone, we visited Old Faithful and the surrounding geyser basin.  We spent most of a full day here. Old Faithful is what everybody talks about, but it's not the biggest, nor the most interesting of the geysers.  Take the walking trail which starts more or less at Old Faithful and takes you by a series of fantastic and fascinating geysers.  Also the entire area nearby is dotted with very interesting geologic features - hot water springs, geysers of various shapes and size, mudholes sinkholes, you name it.  Norris geyser basin is also worth a visit, although we didn't make it.   Don't miss Firehole Lake Drive, north of Old Faithful.

2. MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS  This is a must. You'll find an incredible array of hot springs and multi colored pools.  Half a day was enough for us and from here we continued onto the third area, which is;

3. ROOSEVELT TOWER FALLS  Tower Falls is well worth a visit.  There is a walk down to the foot of the falls.  Just remember, it's a long walk up.





where to stay in or near the park


This is a must. This canyon is beautiful and has several impressive falls. There are hiking paths along both rims of the canyon, and there are also many vantage points to park at along the road.  There are also ranger led hikes.  This picture of the falls to the left is probably the most famous picture of Yellowstone after Old Faithful.  This is a picture of the lower falls.  We spent a whole day touring this area.

This brings us to the question of where to stay.  There are 2 major possibilities - in the park or out. Staying in the park is probably a wonderful experience.  In the park, there are several places, ranging from cabins to elegant Inns. They aren't too expensive, but the better ones have tourists crawling all over them, and they are usually full months in advance.  That leaves "outside", and here there are three possibilities, West Yellowstone in the west, Gardiner in the north, and Silver Gate in the east.  Each of these little towns is right next to a gate into the park, and exists primarily to provide motel rooms for the tourists.  It's all a matter of convenience, where you're arriving from, and where you want to go afterwards.  Perhaps the most convenient is Gardiner, as it's very close to 3 different areas of interest, but we stayed in West Yellowstone because one of our cyber friends, Daphne lives in West Yellowstone and she was a great help in our planning.  We also met there, and had a nice dinner together. We stayed at the Kelly Inn, and it was super!  As for Silver Gate, we didn't get there, so I can't pass judgment.

By the way, we loved Yellowstone. It's an incredible and unique place, and it would be easy to spend a week or two there. Our most unusual experience was getting stuck in a "buffalo traffic jam". To the right is a picture of what it looked like from the driver's seat. That's Alisa inside and a buffalo outside.

From West Yellowstone, we drove north on the Gallatin River Parkway to the next stop which was Boseman, a delightful little university town. The ride was beautiful, and Bozeman was a real surprise.  There are several interesting museums in Bozeman, including a computer museum, and the museum of the rockies. We went to the computer museum, and it was one of the best I've been to (there aren't many...).  It's called "The American Computer and Robotics Museum", and although the presentation is geared more for the kids, it was well done, very educational, and very entertaining for the adults as well.

After Bozeman, we drove west on I-90, and got off on highway 2 in order to visit the Lewis & Clark Caverns.  This is a Montana State Park, and are very impressive caverns, and well worth the visit.  It's big and they give an excellent tour.


We stayed overnight in Butte on the way to Flathead Country. This is the area to the southeast of Glacier National Park near the Flathead Lake,  and its main towns are Kalispell, Whitefish, Columbia Falls, and Bigfork.  We decided to stay here because of our cyber friend Randee, the postmaster in Dayton, Montana, who told us that Flathead country was THE place to visit.  She was right. It's a great place with lots to do and see.  The area is great for outdoor activities of all kinds, and each little town has its own personality.

Bigfork is a cute little artist's town on the lake with many galleries and is worth a visit. Whitefish is a delightful little town and is best known for its wonderful coffee company - The Montana Coffee Traders.  If you are in the area and you are a coffee lover, visit the Whitefish Coffee Traders.

We stayed at a lovely B&B named the Good Medicine Lodge. It was the best!!  The house looks like new with all wood finish both in and out. There's a hot pool in the back yard.  That's me in the picture relaxing after a hard day's touring. The owners serve a wonderful breakfast and really keep the place clean and spotless.

As a personal aside, I have just completely overhauled and updated this page 17(!) years after this trip took place. It was a wonderful trip, and this B&B is still one of the best we have ever stayed in. We even still have a couple of ceramic items we bought here. 


As for Glacier National Park, it is not Yellowstone, and if you just want to enjoy the view, a ride through it on "Going to the Sun Road" can be done in 3 hours or all day, depending how you travel.  We did it twice because the weather was lousy the first time.  The second time, we could see how beautiful it really is, although the weather was still far from perfect. It's also a place with lots of possibilities for hikes and camping. While we were there, a couple of campers were killed by bears, and several bears had to be destroyed, so you can have an exciting trip if you're "lucky".

Glacier can be visited from the west or the east.  We stayed on the west side in Flathead country, but you can also stay in Great Falls and visit Glacier after a 2 hour ride.  Of special interest is the Plains Indians Museum in Browning Montana.  Much of the area surrounding Glacier is Indian reservational land, and if you are interested in Native American culture, you can learn a lot in here.

WATERTON PARK is on the Canadian side of the border and is an  integral part of the Glacier Park ecosystem.  On the other hand, it's not part of the Glacier Park eco(nomic)sytem, and it has a separate entrance fee. It has some beautiful lakes and countryside.  We saw it on a rainy day, and went through it pretty fast on our way to Banff.

discover lake louise

banff lake louise

ice walks in the columbia icefield

the icefields parkway


Banff is a pretty big place and actually encompasses 4 major different Canadian park areas, Banff itself, Kootenay, Yoho, and Jasper parks.  The main attractions are Banff Park, and the Icefields Parkway which is quite an amazing ride in the direction of Jasper, with the Columbia Icefields Center on the way.  This area is quite different from Yellowstone or Glacier, as you feel like part of the scenery. On the Icefields parkway, you can view glaciers from the roadside.  At the Icefields center, you can stroll around on one of the glaciers.  The center itself is a lively attraction.  I'm told that Jasper is an interesting town, but we didn't go that far because the weather got worse and worse as we headed north.  We spent two days in the Lake Louise area, and one night in Canmore.  If you get to see Lake Louise and nearby Lake Moraine on a nice day, it is a sight to remember.  We did, as you can see from the pictures on this site or this site.  Lake Louise and Lake Moraine together get my vote as the most beautiful area we visited on this trip.

Banff village is a wonderful little town with lots of beautiful shops and expensive hotels.  You can also stay in nearby Canmore, which is just outside the park boundaries, and is a lot cheaper.  It is full of B&B's, and if you are lucky, your host may offer you the use of his or her entry pass into Banff park.  We stayed at a delightful B&B called "OFF OUR ROCKIES" and hosted by Jacky who helped us a lot during our short stay.   And... Canmore itself is a town with a beautiful mountain view from every window!

There's lots to see on the way from Lake Louise to Banff Village. The park gives out an excellent publication which describes each place of interest.

When we left Canmore, we took the scenic route to Calgary and drove through KANANASKIS, which is a ski resort in the winter and just a resort in the summer.  (There is a golf course nearby.) It ranks as the most beautiful man made place we saw on this trip.  Absolutely beautiful setting, with a stunning garden, pool, and fountain, and several beautiful hotels which all blend into the setting.

From there, we arrived at our destination for the next 3 days - Olds, Alberta, in order to visit our friends the Windsors on their farm in nearby Didsbury.  These are not your usual tourist destinations, but we had a great time!  We had a great visit with Kathleen, Bill and their 2 sons. We roamed the entire area, ate ribs in Calgary, visited Heritage Park (best theme park I've seen - about the history of Calgary), and got a live demonstration of artificial bovine insemination.  The cow didn't seem to enjoy it very much, but I think that's because Bill wouldn't put out his cigarette, and didn't buy her dinner first.

On the last evening, we visited the CALGARY STAMPEDE, the greatest cowboy show on earth.  It rained a lot, but we enjoyed it anyway.  We saw the "chuckwagon races" run in the mud.


From here, we drove south to Great Falls.  We arrived on the day of the official opening of the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center.  Entry was by invitation only (Don't forget - this was 17 years ago. Today there's no problem visiting), so instead we went and looked at the Missouri river and its many falls and hydroelectric generating facilites.

The next day we drove to Billings for the flight to our next stop (Florida - to visit my family).  We got to Billings with one thing in mind, to visit the Beartooth Highway.  This road was described by somebody as the most beautiful road in America.  Could be.  The ride was spectacular and almost brought us full circle to the eastern entrance of Yellowstone.  We rolled in the snow at the peak. The next day, we were in the July heat of southern Florida.


thE official tourism site of the state of Montana
a comprehensive site about travel in Montana
this site will help you find a B&B anywhere in Montana
lots of information and links for touring in Alberta
lots of B&B's in Alberta
a visitor's guide to western Canada


This is a page from our site "Travels with Steve & Alisa".  It describes one of the many trips we have made together.  We've built these pages not just to describe our trips, but to help other travelers if we can.  Please use the information we've provided freely, and let us know if you have any questions we might be able to answer about your own planned trip, or just let us know if we have helped you. Or perhaps you have some information we could add to the site. Visit our home page using the link to the right.    

Enjoy your next trip!!                         ~Steve & Alisa~