From Yellowstone it's a quick drive to the south (just ten miles) to Grand Teton National Park. The park features the dramatic peaks of the Teton Range and the valley of Jackson Hole. We spent two days exploring the park.
Unfortunately, the air was hazy because of forest fires that summer, and the views were not as spectacular as they should have been.
This view of the mountains with the Snake River in the foreground was made famous by the famous photographer Ansel Adams.
The little Chapel of the Transfiguration has a picture window at its rear which frames a view of the peaks.
From the Grand Tetons we headed across the southern portion of Idaho. This portion of the state is semi-arid, and the scenery for much of the drive is fairly boring.
An approaching thunderstorm
We found Boise to be a rather attractive small city. Idaho has a sizeable population of Basques from northern Spain. They immigrated to Idaho to work as shepherds. We found a Basque restaurant in downtown Boise and had an excellent supper there.
The next day we crossed into Oregon. We passed through verdant pine forests in the mountains, and then descended into a dry, parched basin. The Cascade Mountains along the Pacific coast block weather systems from crossing to the eastern side, creating what is known as a "rain shadow". We reached the Columbia River which forms the border between Oregon and Washington.
We followed the Columbia River on the Oregon side to the town of The Dalles (pronounced "The Dells") The Dalles is located on the dry side of the Cascade Mountains, but it is the gateway to the lush Columbia River Gorge.
From a park overlooking the city, you can barely make out the snow-covered peak of Mt. Adams in Washington.
The next day we set out to explore the Columbia River Gorge. The day began bright and sunny, but as we passed out of the "rain shadow" the skies clouded over.
There are numerous waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. The tallest and most easily accessible from the highway is Multnomah Falls. The upper and lower falls have a combined height of 620 feet.
A foot bridge crosses over the basin between the two falls. We were told that in 1995 a 400 ton boulder fell from the cliff into the basin. A wedding party was posing for pictures on the foot bridge at the time. They were drenched from the splash created by the boulder, but, fortunately, they only suffered minor injuries.
Continuing along the river we came to the Crown Point Vista for a view of the river gorge. Even with the cloudy skies and mist the view was impressive.
We circled back to our base in The Dalles taking a loop to the south of Mount Hood. With an elevation of over 12,000 feet, it is Oregon's highest peak. With the overcast weather, we despaired that we would not be able to see the mountain. But then as we passed back into the "rain shadow", as if by magic, Mount Hood suddenly appeared before us.
Next... on to the Pacific Ocean.
To be continued...