Road Trip Stop #8: Yellowstone

July 15, 2016

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At this point in our cross country road trip, we’re reaching about the midway point of our journey and entering into a series of National Park days. First up was Yellowstone. I’ll call this the “roughing it” part of our trip. We stayed at Headwaters Lodge at Flagg Ranch in a private cabin. The cabin was very clean and spacious, set amongst other cabins and the woods. It was a beautiful setting and my biggest complaint is that there were a million mosquitos swarming us as we approached. I think I got about 20 bug bites and it was pretty miserable.

My second complaint is that there was no cell phone reception, internet or television to be found. In advance when booking the cabins I thought I’d be in the mood for a little technology detox, but when you’re this far into a road trip, technology is pretty awesome. Not to mention, the two nights we stayed at the cabins happened to be the first two episodes of The Bachelorette, oh the humanity! We survived our stay and all I can say is thank goodness we didn’t do any camping during this road trip because I’m not sure I would have made it through. I’m really exaggerating though, our stay was perfectly nice at the ranch. The main lodge had a pretty good restaurant and general store and the lodge is situated right between Yellowstone and Grand Teton, making it a great place to stay if you plan to visit both parks.

We spent the next two days at Yellowstone. The park is way bigger than I could have ever imagined. Even though we weren’t making any forward progress on our road trip, we still were spending hours in the car each day to visit different sections of the park. The park is 63 miles from north to south, so to drive across took about an hour and a half (we did this the first day in the park).

We visited park highlights, driving to destinations and then walking around a bit to explore.

Yellowstone National Park

Sapphire Pool at Biscuit Basin

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Old Faithful, something that you should see while in Yellowstone but not particularly exciting if you ask me. However, I do highly recommend the frozen yogurt station right by Old Faithful 🙂

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Grand Prismatic Springs, pretty cool but honestly looks cooler in pictures because you can see overhead views and the colors aren’t as obstructed from the steam.

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Yellowstone National Park

We were VERY excited to see a bear! I was particularly excited to experience it from the safety of inside our car. Throughout the park, Park Rangers and signs continually tell visitors to stay in their cars and do not approach wildlife, especially bears. People are dumb (as exemplified above).

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The payoff during our 2 mile hike to Mystic Falls. This moderately challenging hike gave us great panoramic views of the park, plus a stop along this gorgeous waterfall.

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Yellowstone is beautiful and has endless hikes, viewpoints and unique natural elements to explore. You could spend days and days at the park and not see everything. I think we did a good job of catching a variety of offerings from the park in two short days.

If you’re visiting Yellowstone or another large National Park, I recommend doing your research ahead of time. Go online, read blogs and recommendations and see what looks the most interesting to you and plot out when and where you want to visit. If you enter Yellowstone without a plan, you could easily waste most of your day driving around and missing all the big sights. While you should have some idea of what you want to experience, don’t feel like you need to strictly stick to your schedule. During our visit, we ended up hiking with another couple who recommended their favorite park spots, which we then visited instead of some of the things we had originally planned.

And finally, if you’re visiting Old Faithful, check the timing of the geyser via twitter at @GeyserNPS. Old Faithful erupts every 90 minutes, plus or minus 10 minutes. Do you know how annoying it is to arrive 1 minute after it erupts? Because I do.

The next stop along our journey was definitely one of my favorites from our road trip: Jackson, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park. I’ll share details, recommendations and pictures next week!

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