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Exploring Yellowstone | a family vacation

tree tops yellowstone

Three words I'd use to describe Yellowstone: mysterious, vast, wild. I had no idea just how much there was to experience in this amazing place. It's so much more than just 'where Old Faithful is,' which I'll admit was about the extent of what I knew about Yellowstone.

The beginning of our trip started with some incredibly scenic mountain views as we drove straight towards the Grand Tetons. The first full day we spent hiking and exploring Taggart and Bradley Lakes. Both of which I highly recommend, even over the more well known Jenny Lake. All were beautiful, but Taggart and Bradley both offered more intimate and uncrowded views, along with some stunning mountainscapes along the hike. 

After visiting the old barns at Mormon Row, we made our way towards Yellowstone, seeing more and more wildlife right away - including a lone coyote running right along the side of the road and a field of mule deer.

Our first stop in Yellowstone was the Grand Canyon. It was amazing, no doubt, but we quickly came to learn that we enjoyed the just off-the-beaten paths way more than the overly crowded tourist bus stops.

Lamar Valley - not gonna lie, it was not easy with a toddler. It's a lot of driving, but the views are just expansive. And the wildlife did not disappoint. We saw mostly bison (very up close and personal) and elk. The early risers may get a glimpse at the more elusive wolves, moose, and bear. Sammy was proud to catch his very own native Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

Confession: I had an idea that Yellowstone had something to do with an old volcano and that there were geysers and such, but I had just never even thought long enough to contemplate what that meant. The reality is that Yellowstone is on an active super volcano, yes you heard that right. It's the most bizarre and surreal place I've ever seen. There are literally pools of boiling acid water, holes that vent angry smoke into the sky literally all around you, and geysers that randomly spew water into the air. Also, I don't recommend watching any sorts of volcano documentaries while staying in Yellowstone (rookie mistake).

If I had to choose a fourth word to describe Yellowstone, it'd be 'bison'. We saw sooo many bison, including a very long traffic jam filled with them. They have the right of way and they are usually not in a hurry to get going. The following series are from a magical little hike called Storm Point Hike. We trekked through lines of neatly formed lodge pole pines until the view finally opened up to the coast of Yellowstone Lake (which is so big that it looks like you're on the ocean shore). We had to detour our path a bit because there were three bison grazing right along the path. Also, there had been a momma grizzly bear seen passing through just the day before, so I wasn't exactly as relaxed as one might normally be in such surroundings. Nonetheless, it was one of our favorites.

Nearing the end of our trip we took some time to explore more of the other worldly geothermal features. We also discovered the cutest (and most family friendly) of all hikes in Yellowstone - the hike to the Lone Star Geyser. It follows an old forest service road (thank you Bob stroller) to a private viewing of the Geyser which erupts every 3 hours. Awesome. Even saw a rainbow!

To make our way back down to Jackson, we decided to drive a different route through the state of Idaho. It was fun to see an another entirely different set of scenery, with wide open plain lands and potato fields. Just before making our way back to the airport, we decided to visit the sight where Ansel Adams took his famous photo of the Snake River. Unfortunately, the trees have grown so much over the years that the river is almost completely hidden, but it was an amazing sight nonetheless. 

Just an incredible trip all around. Thanks so much for taking a look at our photos!

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Beth Chang3 Comments