Dismiss Notice
Welcome to The Forum. Please register here, to join the conversation. It only takes a moment!

Grand Teton and Yellowstone trip report

Discussion in 'New Blog Posts' started by NickPFD, Jul 3, 2017.

  1. NickPFD

    NickPFD Mmmm.... yeah.... Staff Member

    Two weeks ago I was fortunate enough to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, my first time visiting that part of the country. In a nutshell: the scenery is spectacular, the parks live up to the hype, and I highly recommend a trip if you can pull it off.

    We flew into the airport at Jackson, in northwest Wyoming:

    [​IMG]

    It’s one of the nicer airport approaches I’ve seen:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    JAC airport is the nation’s only commercial airport inside a national park and it’s noticeable the second you step off the plane since the Grand Teton range serves as the airport’s backdrop. It took 30-45 minutes to drive to our cabin at Jackson Lake Lodge, but even after a full day of traveling with four kids the drive was relaxing. There was a herd of buffalo by the road on the way up which helped set a nice tone for the tip.

    If you’re so inclined you can stop at the visitor center in Moose on your way up. The kids enjoyed it (as they did all the visitor centers in the two parks) and as with everywhere else in Grand Teton there’s that view:

    [​IMG]

    Our youngest is three years old, plus we also had with us my mother-in-law, so we’re not going to do any backcountry hikes, but fortunately you don’t need to be a seasoned outdoorsman to take in a lot of great sights here. We went on a short, flat hike one day at Jackson Lake. I don’t know what it is about bodies of water that compels kids to throw rocks in them non-stop, but that’s what mine do every time they have a chance:

    [​IMG]

    Another view on the same hike, this one facing the mountains. My son looks like he’s in the Arctic:

    [​IMG]

    And in fact, “arctic” isn’t much of stretch. As per Wikipedia, the climate classification at Yellowstone Lake is subarctic, though I don’t think the climate at Jackson Lake would make the cut for that designation. Still, it’s not far off.

    Another thing you can do with folks who aren’t up for a long hike is drive up Signal Mountain, which is a big hill approximately 800 feet above the surrounding terrain in Jackson Hole. From there you have sweeping views of the entire valley plus the Tetons:

    [​IMG]

    Another look:

    [​IMG]

    Signal Mountain was one of my favorite spots on the whole trip; I could never get tired of that view. We took a few family pictures that ended up looking we were photoshopped into it just because the background scenery was so over-the-top gorgeous.

    And if you like nice scenery, I recommend waking up at sunrise and going to Oxbow Bend for photos like this:

    [​IMG]

    …and maybe then you could head over to the rear deck at Jackson Lake Lodge for a little of this:

    [​IMG]

    Another fun activity is to take a boat ride around Jackson Lake. It’s relaxing to sit down and be treated to scenes like this:

    [​IMG]

    After Grand Teton we headed up to Yellowstone. From where we were staying to the Grant Village area, our new home in Yellowstone in the southern part of the park, took about one hour of driving. From there to the northern part of Yellowstone takes another hour or two of driving depending on where and how you go. Our first sightseeing of the day was a trip to, you guessed it, Old Faithful, which is in the southern part of the park. It’s also the most popular and crowded part of the park so we wanted to knock it off the list sooner rather than later. The traffic and parking situation reminded me of Disney, but with less organization (and obviously on a smaller scale, thank goodness). It was the only part of the trip that felt crowded. But Old Faithful lived up to its name. We stuck around there for a while and ended up seeing two eruptions:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Yellowstone has a lot. If you want to go hiking far away from everybody else you can do that. If you want to drive around in a car and see amazing natural wonders without having to physically exert yourself, you can also do that since there is jaw-dropping scenery roughly every mile or two along the park’s roads. Our itinerary, aside from a few pre-planned stops, consisted of driving until we got to something that looked nice and stopping. That worked great for us. We had a nice stop at Nez Perce creek, where my kids got to chuck some more stones into the water. I liked it because it was bucolic and uncrowded:

    [​IMG]

    I really like the Yellowstone River:

    [​IMG]

    Regarding wildlife: we didn’t see any wolves or bears. We did pass a spot with a crowd and a couple of park rangers who informed us that there had been a bear right there up until a minute ago but that it had retreated into the trees. We saw some elk and/or antelope (I can’t remember the difference) and lots of bison. It’s easy to see bison from your car:[​IMG]

    We were about fifteen feet away from this guy (inside the car, of course–you don’t want to walk that close to a bison):

    [​IMG]

    Did you know Yellowstone has its own Grand Canyon?

    [​IMG]

    [Sigh] “Another boring picture perfect view!”

    [​IMG]

    This is from Lamar Valley. There was a herd of bison on the other side of the river.

    [​IMG]

    And of course we went to Grand Prismatic:

    [​IMG]

    Hmmm, that doesn’t look like those Grand Prismatic pictures I always see. Let’s adjust the saturation a bit:

    [​IMG]

    Whoa, too far! But you get the idea. The reality is probably somewhere between the two pictures. And the steam rising up from there appears to be different colors:

    [​IMG]

    Random Observations

    • We went in the third week of June. The weather was great: sunny the whole time (save for one afternoon storm) with temperatures in the 70s in Teton and 60s in Yellowstone. And there was still snow by our hotel in Grant Village.
    • There were tons of mosquitoes in Yellowstone, more than I’ve ever seen in my life, but oddly enough none of them bit us.
    • Generally speaking, the area is not cheap. Unless you’re staying in Jackson (or another relatively close city, with “relatively” meaning “an hour or two away from the park entrance”) there are no points hotels. The food inside the parks is good enough for what it is albeit monotonous after a week.
    • The tap water is really good. My wife and I now turn up our nose at Charlotte tap water.
    • Our kids enjoyed the cabin more than the hotel since at the cabin you can just go outside and find rocks and pine cones but you’re still right by the room where the parents can keep an eye on things. Whereas with a hotel room you have to go out the door, down the hall, down the stairs, down another hall, and then outside and out of the view of the hotel room window. Which is not going to happen with young kids.
    • Did I mention that the scenery is great and you should definitely go?

    The post Grand Teton and Yellowstone trip report appeared first on Personal Finance Digest.

    Continue reading...
     
  2. James from BNA

    James from BNA VR Jacket Guy

    Great post, Nick, I really enjoyed reading it. My kids are 6 and 3 and I'm trying to decide when to take them. Kudos to you for taking them so young.
     
  3. PurpleSquirrel

    PurpleSquirrel MS Nuts

    Such beautiful pics, Nick. Did you book a cabin inside the park or stay outside the park? Which websites to book? I want to take my kids when they are still young.
     
  4. Mike843

    Mike843 New Member

    W
    Lucky you!!
    We are going to yellowstone in September. First time.
    your report and pics make waiting so hard!
     
  5. Tom Juhn

    Tom Juhn Level 2 Member

    We are also going in September. Can't wait.
     
  6. NickPFD

    NickPFD Mmmm.... yeah.... Staff Member

    Glad you enjoyed it! Our kids are ages 3 and up and to my surprise Yellowstone wasn't difficult at all with the kids. There are several days worth of things to do with them. You'll do plenty of driving but there are lots of stops and lots of things to see that don't involve a lot of hiking. And there are bathrooms strategically placed along the way in case you need a pit stop.
     
  7. NickPFD

    NickPFD Mmmm.... yeah.... Staff Member

    We stayed inside both parks. All lodging inside the park is owned by the federal government but contracted out. I forget who runs it but it's easy to book.
     
  8. Mike843

    Mike843 New Member

    Quick question.
    Do you have any more pics of the "canyon" you shot in yellowstone? That is an awsome looking place !
     
  9. NickPFD

    NickPFD Mmmm.... yeah.... Staff Member

    If you're talking about the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, I don't have great pics of that. One of the two main overlooks was closed and the other one was mobbed, so we skipped it.
     
  10. Mike843

    Mike843 New Member

    Ok, thanks.
     
  11. stroschein

    stroschein Level 2 Member

    I was there 2 weeks ago and did the whole "closed" south rim trial. My itinerary was super similar to NickPFD's, but we had to fly into SLC due to family not having funds to fly into jackson/bzn. Driving home down the Idaho side of the tetons was also pretty cool:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  12. NickPFD

    NickPFD Mmmm.... yeah.... Staff Member

    Nice pics! That whole trip made me wish I were better at photography.
     
  13. stroschein

    stroschein Level 2 Member

    Ya, after looking at your dates again, we were there the same week lol. I cant agree enough on how bad the mosquitoes were and how awesome the weather was the entire time. The week before it was in the mid 50's with a bunch of rain. Signal mountain was also one of my very favorites of the whole trip.
     
  14. italdesign

    italdesign Level 2 Member

    Thanks for reminding me to save time for this next year.

    What's the best time of year to visit? Priorities are animal encounter and less crowd.
     
  15. NickPFD

    NickPFD Mmmm.... yeah.... Staff Member

    I was pretty happy with the time of year we went--not too hot, not too cold. Like @stroschein said above, it was in the 50s the week before we got there. I figure (don't know for sure) that it would only get more crowded in July and August. I think the park roads are closed November through April, so that would leave May and Sep-Oct as the shoulder seasons, I suppose.

    fwiw Grand Tetons never felt crowded to me. Yellowstone felt crowded in three places: Old Faithful (extremely crowded), Grand Prismatic, and Grand Canyon. And I guess in some of the general stores/restaurants, since there aren't too many of those. But besides that, crowds weren't an issue, and that's coming from somebody with a general aversion to crowds.
     
  16. NickPFD

    NickPFD Mmmm.... yeah.... Staff Member

    Did the mosquitoes bite anyone in your group? That was the weird thing: none of us got bitten despite more mosquitoes than I've ever seen in my life (not to mention a poorly-fitting screen on our window in Grant Village).
     
  17. Mike843

    Mike843 New Member

    Thanks, some great pics
     

Share This Page