So Much To Tell You

Mother Nature is cranky–first we get 6.5 inches of rain over Memorial Day weekend, then this Yellowstone flood which is being called a 500 year event, then we have a wind storm that would rival any windstorm in Montana. And we took a trip–lots to talk about!! And lots of photos. (You can click on any of the smaller photos to make them larger)

Let’s talk about this 500 year flood event–it’s horrific–there is no other word. Sunday night, June 12 into the early hours of June 13 Yellowstone Park and surrounding areas received 4-5 inches of rain. It was warm enough that rain fell on the mountain snowpack causing rapid melting. All that moisture swelled the Yellowstone River and its tributaries to epic levels never seen before. Another recorded flood happened in 1918 and the Yellowstone was flowing at 38,000 CFS. Monday the Yellowstone was flowing at 51,000 CFS! Our home sits about one half mile above a river and we have no flood issues–our neighbors and the neighboring communities were not so fortunate!

Out of Livingston, Montana (55 miles from us) heading south toward Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Taylor Davis.

On Thursday June 9th we left home heading to the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area to camp with friends and ride ATVs up the mountains into the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. Friends Geri and Larry came from Rapid City to join us and friends Ken and Leslie from our neck of the woods came along. On Saturday another gang from Big Timber joined us for a day ride.

The weather while we were camping was unsettled–rain/sun/high winds/downpours–but nothing that would indicate the extent of the flooding we would see on Monday.

Our Boulder Valley A Glenda Rainie photo.
Natural Bridge Falls near our home sometime Monday, June 13, 2022. Photo taken by Roger Sanstad
Natural Bridge Falls on June 5, 2017, photo taken by me.
A neighbor’s home surrounded by water from the Boulder River, a Lloyd Rue photo.

The above photo is of our amazing Stafford Animal Shelter in Livingston, Montana. Staff and volunteers were in the process of calmly evacuating all the animals when the water suddenly rose to waist level and the power went out. Can you imagine???–and that water had to be so cold. All the animals were evacuated safely, all staff were OK but the shelter is a total loss.

The above three photos were taken inside Yellowstone Park which is devastated. The gateway communities of Gardiner and Cooke City were totally isolated for several days–no potable water, no way in or out. The lower loop of Yellowstone Park is re-opening June 22 but a system to limit the number of visitors is being put in place. License plates ending with odd numbers will be allowed into the Park on odd numbered days, etc. There is no way the lower loop could handle the number of visitors normally in the Park on a summer day–just sheer volume, or lodging or dining. The poor wildlife probably couldn’t handle the number of tourists!!

The north/upper entrance to Yellowstone is not expected to open this summer–the devastation is that great. Red Lodge Montana is located on Rock Creek and that normally shallow, rocky creek became a raging torrent leaving the street in Red Lodge covered in large rocks.

The Beartooth Pass, one of the most scenic drives in the US is closed for repairs. This flood will most likely significantly harm the tourist industry in Montana this summer and our hearts go out to all those business owners which rely on the tourist trade for much of their earnings for the year. Our hearts go out to the so many people who have lost their homes, land, outbuildings and perhaps their livelihood.

Zachary Beard Photo

Our trip to the wild horse range was awesome as usual. Warm in the campground, very chilly on top of the mountains. On Friday we rode in an area we had not seen before, lead by Ken–beautiful country!

Saturday morning we met the gang coming from Big Timber at our usual meeting spot–the corrals and headed up the mountains with 11 rigs and I think 20 people. More snow than usual on this previous date–ice caves weren’t accessible due to snow, we saw fewer horses and no sheep. The weather was awful on top of the mountain, cold and dumping rain. We took shelter in Penn’s cabin originally built in 1911 as a shelter for men cutting railroad ties. In 1921 a man named Penn filed a homestead claim on the lands surrounding the cabin, thus the name Penn’s cabin. The cabin kept us all dry while we had lunch and waited out the rain.

Friday evening we took shelter in Larry and Geri’s motorhome to enjoy our dinner–the weather was cranky–high winds making the motorhome rock and sheets of rain. In the neighboring site young people had erected two tents and they were having one heck of a time keeping those tents anchored! Then when walking Emmi I find out one of the young people had tied his boat to the pier and came back 20 minutes later to find the waves caused by the extremely high winds had sunk his boat!!! I felt so sorry for those kids–they took down their tents, loaded everything into the ruined boat and left!

Ken and Leslie departed Sunday morning and the four of us took a tour of the Bighorn Canyon. It was a gray, rainy morning so photos do not do justice to the colors in the Canyon–but here are the ones I snapped.

We spent the rest of the rainy Sunday visiting, reading, napping, walking the dog and enjoying doing absolutely nothing with ice cream for supper–a very good day!

Monday we were loaded up and moving early! There was absolutely no cell service in the campground. As we traveled along and found cell service I began to see reports of the flooding on social media. We wondered in what condition we would find our home–as I said, no damage–our little creek is high due to that Memorial Day weekend rain but no higher than when we left on Thursday.

My summer flowers

And then we had the wind storm–good grief Mother Nature!!! Saturday, I went to Livingston to have lunch with our friend Sarah–an outstanding lunch at Rice Fine Thai! Shortly after I left home the wind started to blow and it blew for an hour or more the Cowboy said–making a circle, coming from all directions. We lost multiple aspen trees in our little valley but no damage to house or outbuildings. Our neighbors up the road were not so lucky with damage to outbuildings, equipment, and vehicles. Power was out for about 10 hours.

So, that’s is what has been happening in the last week and a half–let’s hope the next week is a little more dull!!


22 thoughts on “So Much To Tell You

  1. I was so worried about you and the Cowboy!! Thank God you were spared ! Thanks for giving us a first-hand account! Stay safe and hope life continues to be good!


  2. Wow! Mother Nature can quit for a while! So much damage in that area!
    Glad your damage wasnt worse!
    Good trip to Pryor Mt, thanks for invite!


  3. Oh my, where to begin! I am so happy to read you, Mike and Emmi are ok and your home had no damage. We have seen the reports and videos on the news concerning Yellowstone…devastating is a good choice of words. Your pictures of your trip are so pretty. ..even the snow. Love your petunias…perfect summer colors! Joe and I also enjoy ice cream for supper sometimes…with all the fixings!


  4. The devastation is just unimaginable. Even seeing the photos and reading your description of the flooding in Yellowstone and the surrounding area, it seems surreal. I’m so glad that you all are safe. It sounds like you had a fun getaway with friends, even with the crazy weather!


    1. It is unimaginable–in the past we’ve camped with various visiting friends near Yellowstone about 13 miles outside the Park in a fishing access on the Yellowstone River. A large bridge spanned the Yellowstone at this fishing site and was the access for many, many ranches and homes. That bridge is gone, swept away by the flood waters. Many other bridges are just gone. It’s hard to fathom how long the recovery is going to take. Inside the Park the road from Gardiner to Mammoth was a narrow, twisting slice of pavement running between the river and a cliff–that road is gone. How long will it take to repair that road. Unimaginable.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My what a devastating few weeks for many.
    Cannot imagine the hardships.
    Your pictures are great!!
    So happy all is well on your home front🙌


    1. I spoke with a woman who owns a business in Livingston and had 4 feet of water in the basement of her home. She told me the cleanup is miserable–when the flood waters receded they were left with a foot of glue like mud. She told me it would suck the boots off her feet and that her calves were so sore from trying to keep the boots on her feet. I can’t imagine!


  6. Thank you for the first-hand reports and for the
    pictures. You are a treasure!
    It’s so hard to imagine this devastation. Very sorry to hear of the homes and families losing so much. But since we in the lower regions have not heard of loss of life, hopefully all inhabitants are safe.

    As well, enjoyed the vicarious back road adventures.


  7. I cried when I saw the devastation on the news. My heart goes put to those who lost homes and businesses and all those who depend on the tourists that won’t be coming. We got a wee bit of rain but we need so much more. Mother Nature seems to be really angry this year.


  8. Mother Nature can be cruel but Montanains are resilient and the beauty of the land will always be beautiful even with such devastation. Glad you and yours are safe and well.


    1. Thanks! The little town of Red Lodge definitely demonstrates Montanans are resilient–last year it was a fire that kept people from going up the Beartooth Pass, this year it’s a flood.


  9. Amazing pics! Saw a video of the bridge being washed away in Yellowstone and couldn’t believe how high the water was! Seeing all that water coming over the falls at Natural Bridge really shows me just how much more water was moving through there. So glad you’re up high enough to avoid the flooding and that your buildings survived the winds. I agree you should be ready for the rest of the summer to be dull! Those poor kids with their tents and boat. Glad they were at least able to get it out of the water and on the trailer.


    1. The water is still incredibly high in all the rivers plus there is still lots of snowpack left in the mountains just waiting to melt when the temps rise. I felt so sorry for those kids–he just kept saying, “it sunk my boat, it sunk my boat!”


  10. So glad you three are high enough to avoid all this water:) It is mind boggling to see such damage. The road from Gardiner into Yellowstone is how we always enter in to my favorite half of the park. It will be years before there are repairs. I just read an article a few minutes ago and the superintendent said they may not rebuild the road that was previously there if there if there is going to future flood potential to do this again. She didn’t give options. We were watching the devastation as the water moved on. There just aren’t words. Your photos really show the destruction. We stayed in the Yodeler Motel when we were on a motorcycle trip to Red Lodge to drive the Beartooth. Boy, Natural Bridge didn’t even come close to what you shared from this flood when you took us there in 2019. Thanks for the storm update.
    Glad you had a nice trip with friends despite the wet, windy weather. Your group is quite hardy. The photos are lovely…well, except for the two with their hoods tied tight around their face. Haha! Your patio flowers are so pretty. Sure hope this week is very boring, weather wise.


    1. Plans seem to be underway to repair roads/bridges inside Yellowstone Park in order to make the upper/north loop accessible. But I cannot fathom how they will connect Gardiner to the Park in the near future–but then I’m not a road builder. That’s so fun you stayed at the Yodeler Motel! And no– I saw your email/photo–you guys did not get to see the full force of the Boulder River at Natural Bridge!


  11. Oh my goodness, Janna, such a devastating story to tell. I can’t imagine coming back to that kind of news after being out with friends in the mountains. I always worry about that kind of thing when I am off the grid. Those photos from the air were some of the most dramatic I have seen. Thanks for posting all this information. It infuriates me that the “news” has so little about things that are actually happening in the country and yammers on and on about the same thing over and over again. Makes me crazy. It takes people like you in places where things are happening and willing to write about it to get the real news out there. Such a world. Your petunias are pretty. So far I have some here as well, but when the heat eventually hits they will give up looking pretty. Take care.


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