Sometimes it rains.
We had high hopes of enjoying two mountain passes in Wyoming and Montana on our way into Yellowstone. But when weather gives you fog and thunderstorms, you've got to make the best of it. Despite the weather, we got some views going into Cody. But driving up Dead Indian Pass was complete fog (and 40 degrees). To add to the crummy weather, the Beartooth Highway was closed. All the hikes I had schemed about taking were covered in snow. Campgrounds were all closed. We made plans for a hotel room in Gardiner, MT with the scant cell service we found in the fog at Dead Indian Pass. And then we drove up Beartooth as far as we could go, enjoying the foggy views we got, stopping to watch waterfalls, and making the best of the morning.
This drive takes you through the Beartooth and Absaroka Wilderness, neither of which are National Parks, but both of which are stunning. I'd love to spend a week up in Cody, WY or Red Lodge, MT, and get out to explore the trails later in the summer once the snow has cleared. The alpine lakes look stunning and I can only imagine what kinds of adventures one could have up in the mountains.
Upsides to the campgrounds being closed were one more night in a cozy bed, an unexpected shower, pizza in Gardiner, MT, and an extra day in Yellowstone. Hopefully soon we will get to explore this area again. Until then, I can highly recommend the Firehole Canyon pizza at Gardiner Pizza Company!