Hey there! I’m back today with the final recap of my family vacation out west! If you missed the first two recaps, you can find them here.
Today I’ll be telling you guys about my time in the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, which were definitely some of my favorite places from the trip! Once again I have about a million pictures to share, so I’ll try to let them do most of the talking. Let’s go!
After leaving Park City, Utah, early Thursday morning, we made the 5ish hour drive to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where we’d be staying for our final two nights of vacation. Once we arrived, we spent the rest of the day exploring the Grand Teton National Park, which was just incredible.
According to articles I read online, there are two legends about how the Grand Teton mountains got their name: 1) it’s an old Native American name, or 2) it was discovered by French-American explorers, and “teton” means lady-body part in French 😉 I’ll let you decide on that one!
Either way, the Grand Teton mountains were just lovely and I couldn’t get enough of them. There was even snow at the top- in August! Unbelievable.
Since we didn’t have too much time to spend in the park that day, we explored most of it by car. Even though I was really tired of being in the car, it was worth it to be able to see so many beautiful landscapes and animals. Since this is a protected area, the animals weren’t afraid of humans at all and would come right up to your car. We wound up seeing a ton of animals including these baby deer, a momma moose and baby, and some elk!
So cool! On our way out of the park, we also saw a herd of bison.
Like the other animals, they were not afraid of humans AT ALL and would walk around as if they didn’t even exist.
Case in point:
You can also see a video Fabio took of the bison crossing the road here, if you’re interested. Having the bison so close allowed for some really cool photos. Thanks, dad, for taking these!!
Look at all the flies on his back!!
These animals were simply incredible and I really enjoyed getting a closer look at them!
We spent the rest of the evening exploring downtown Jackson Hole, which included a stop by the Million Dollar Cowboy, a famous bar that uses saddles instead of bar stools. It had such a fun atmosphere, and I totally loved it.
The next morning we were up at 2:15 am (I wish I was kidding) in order to get to Yellowstone in time to see wolves in the wild. Thanks to a number of your suggestions, we knew that to see wolves in the wild you had to be in Lamar Valley (a part of the park) by around 6:00 am. Unfortunately Jackson Hole is on the complete opposite side of the park from Lamar Valley, so it meant a super early wakeup call.
I didn’t mind too much though, since my dad was driving and I was able to sleep in the back 😉 I was awoken at one point when my dad slammed on the breaks because he saw something in the road. What was it, you ask? Oh, just a lone bison walking up the road. Normal.
This happened a few more times with various other animals, including a few giant elk. Yikes. Remind me not to drive around Yellowstone at 3:00 am again anytime soon.
The sun came up just as we arrived in Lamar Valley, and we were able to find the professional wolf spotters pretty easily. They were all set up with their telescopes, and were nice enough to let us look through their lenses.
We wound up seeing two baby wolf pups far in the distance, which was so, so cool! They were small and black and had cute pointy ears. We could see them scratching themselves and rolling around, which was just amazing. It made the super early wakeup call so worth it! (The only problem was that after seeing them I wanted to take them home to be friends with Jack. What…it could work, right? 😉 haha!)
After checking out the wolves for a while, we stopped for a hot breakfast at one of the Yellowstone Lodges (it would be so cool to stay in one of these, BTW) and then we headed off to Mammoth Springs to swim in the boiling river!
In this section of the park, a boiling river mixes with cold water from the Gardner river, creating a swimming hole that’s similar in temperature to hot tub water. See the steam from the boiling river, and the colder river rushing in the back left?
The swimming hole itself was really interesting because some parts of the water were super hot, and others were freezing cold. It was probably one of the weirdest sensations I’ve ever experienced. We all loved it though!
This area of the park was also really remote, and I don’t think too many other people knew about it. Thank you so much to those of you who recommended the boiling river to me!!! It was definitely one of my favorite areas in the park, and I doubt we would have found it otherwise.
After our swim in the boiling river, we made our way over to the one of the more famous areas of Yellowstone, the “grand canyon!” Of course, it was beautiful.
Apparently this waterfall is taller than Niagara Falls, but more narrow. Incredible, right?
Me & my dad!
The whole group!
Then we checked out a few other lookout points, which were equally beautiful.
After that, we headed over to the famous geysers and springs! There was a lot of really cool, but really weird stuff going on over there.
Thanks to even more of your suggestions (really, I can’t thank you enough), we then hiked up the Fairy Falls trail to get an arial view of the Grand Prismatic Spring. The climb was really steep and more than a little challenging (I thought I was going to slip in the loose dirt a few times), but eventually Fabio and I made it to the top.
So, was it worth it?
You bet it was! Just look at how amazing that view is!! Like, what is that thing, even? Why is it those colors? Yellowstone definitely has some strange stuff, and even though I read the explanation that it’s “a spring covered by bacteria,” that still makes no sense to me. I think aliens must have come down and dropped it there, because there’s no way that’s natural. Right??
Anyway, we totally loved the view, and the hike was such a fabulous recommendation. Thank you!!
We ended our day in Yellowstone with Old Faithful, a geyser that goes off without fail every 35 minutes or so. It was awesome!
My family and I had a great time in the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, and I just wish we could have stayed longer. Next time!
Question of the day: If you’ve ever been to Yellowstone, what was your favorite part? If you haven’t been, what would you be most excited to see?