Travel Guide: Yellowstone National Park (& Grand Teton)

A few years ago, David and I went on a road trip from Birmingham, Alabama to Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Missouri. I am going through my photographs and notes and finally creating travel guides for some of the places we visited. In this guide, I will cover two national parks located in Wyoming: Grand Teton and Yellowstone.

Grand Teton

David and I were unsure if this mountain range would make an impression on us since we had just traveled from Colorado and visited the beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park. However, these mountains lived up to their name. They are very jagged which made them feel even more majestic in our eyes. The views were breathtaking, and I do not think it would be possible to take a bad picture here. However, we were so close to Yellowstone that we didn’t fully explore the Tetons and all they had to offer.

Yellowstone

Yellowstone is one of the most unique places that we have ever traveled and probably one of our favorites. Yellowstone was also the first National Park and one of the most visited. Although it is mostly located in Wyoming, 3% is in Montana and 1% is in Idaho.

Things that Surprised Us:

  • The park is massive. We would be driving and suddenly pass a beautiful lake. However, when I would go to check our map, the lake would not even be listed - that is how much there is to do. We spent three days in the park and easily could have spent a week there. I would recommend giving yourself a minimum of two days to see the park since it is so large.

  • It stinks. You will be enjoying a stunning view until the wind shifts, and you suddenly get a waft of rotten eggs. This is due to the sulfur in many of the springs.

  • It’s crowded. Remember when I said that this was one of the most popular national parks? At times the crowds can remind you of Disney World, they are so intense (we did also go during peak season). However, the good news is that because the park is so large you can easily escape the crowds for a bit by choosing somewhere off the beaten path.

  • The weather is crazy. I would recommend bringing layers because it would start off cold in the morning and then get much hotter during the day. Also, parts of the park are closed during the winter so it might be best to visit in warmer months.

  • It is very accessible. Most of the big attractions have a parking lot and a boardwalk. Because of this, it would be easy to visit at any age.

Stay:

  • We camped in a tent at Yellowstone which was quite the adventure. We went during the summer and experienced extreme temperature changes (from the 80s during the day to freezing temperatures at night.) We unloaded our suitcases and piled all our clothes on top of us for extra warmth (not the best night sleep). However, if the budget had allowed, I would have wanted to stay at one of the lodges or cabins in the park (Old Faithful Inn looked neat). Regardless, you should be sure to book in advance as the campgrounds and lodges fill up during the summer.

Do:

  • Old Faithful: While Old Faithful is not the largest geyser is it very predictable (hence the name). You can ask at the park when they believe it will erupt. This was a great place to start our day! The Upper Geyer Basin, the Grand Geyser and Morning Glory Pool are also close by. We stopped at every geyser and hot spring since it was our first day and we were amazed!

  • Grand Prismatic Spring: This is such an icon of Yellowstone and simply cannot be missed. However, it was really crowded, and we found out afterwards that you could hike to an overlook to get a better view.

  • Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: We have never visited the Grand Canyon but this one was breathtaking. One of our favorite views was at Artist Point (although we loved every view).

  • Lamar Valley: This is the best place to see bison! Although they may seem far away in this picture, they actually came right up to our car. I choose this picture because it captured the whole valley. We also saw Elk in Hayden Valley (we also almost wrecked into an Elk driving back to our campsite at night).

  • Mammoth Hot Springs: These are much different than other thermal areas in the park. They looked cave like which was neat. There are two terrace boardwalks and we went to see both.

While we are so happy that we hit all the must-see places, there is so much more to Yellowstone than these top attractions. I’m glad we took the time to find other hidden gems and adventures along the way. Happy travels!

Courtney

#travel #Yellowstone #GrandTeton #NationalParks

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About Courtney

Courtney lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, David, and son, Noah. She works as a nurse and a Mom. Courtney is inspired by Montessori practices, sustainability and minimalism.

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