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Slope Safari 06 through Yellowstone and Jackson, WY
Posted by Greg Smith on Sep 7, 2006, 10:15

We started the morning in Red Lodge, Montana and headed up the Beartooth Highway towards Cooke City and Yellowstone National Park; then on to Jackson, WY. Beartooth Highway is a winding road up to Beartooth Pass at 10,497 feet or so. the highway was called "the most beautiful road in America" by Charles Kuralt many years ago and the same still holds true today. The road simply has to be experienced to understand the beauty.

For slope soaring enthusiasts, the Beartooth Highway has numerous pullouts and parking areas that overlook the valley many thousands of feet below and provide a stunning backdrop to any slope flight. Most of the landing areas are rock, parking area or road but there are a few spots a short hike off the road that you could fly glass ships. I flew the Weasel at a couple of switchback turnouts and flew the Extreme, briefly, at a beautiful spot overlooking a couple of small mountain lakes, however, the wind was strong and the lift was violently unpredictable at that particular spot so I brought the Extreme back and was lucky to get it down unscathed. The best flight I had on the pass was just after the summit where there is a good turnout spot that had a 25-plus MPH wind coming in. The Weasel flew well and, again, the backdrop of the mountains with many peaks over 12,000 feet was awe inspiring.

We entered Yellowstone National Park through the Northeast Entrance not far from Cooke City and drove through the Lamar Valley. Dave had never been to the park and so we did a whirlwind tour of the place. We saw many Bison, a Moose and some Elk as well as the Fountain Paint Pots and Old Faithful. Being a National Park, and with both plentiful tourists and abundant wildlife we didn't fly in the park, instead, we planned to meet Frank in Jackson and so proceeded through the park, out the South Entrance, past the Tetons and into Jackson.

Buffalo in Yellowstone


Fountain Paint Pots, Yellowstone


Old Faithful, Yellowstone


Flying with Frank in Jackson is great because he is a local resident and has scoped out several flying areas. The spot we went to today was the top of a butte overlooking Jackson. The wind was 25-30 MPH and the lift was roaring. I flew my Extreme, Frank flew his Carbon Bird and Wizard and Dave flew his Opus. The planes were screaming around with the the thinner air at about 8,000 feet only adding to the speed. What a great spot!

Wyoming Butte Flying


Dave's Opus


Opus - SPEED!


Frank and his Wizard Compact


Wiz


Wizard and the Tetons


After flying with Frank we made the drive to Utah via the Swan Valley area of Idaho. Swan Valley follows the Snake River for much of the drive to Idaho Falls and we saw several potential flying spots that need to be explored on our next trip. Not much in the way of accommodations between Pocatello and the Utah line on I-15 so we stayed not too far north of Salt Lake City.

Flying in Utah tomorrow!






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