Here’s a report on our Yellowstone Trip August 20 to 25.
I want to give a big thank you to Pam, Bill074, Teton Bill, PeachBelle and DenaliCat for all of their help with planning and answering my numerous questions. If I forgot to name someone, please know that it’s due to faulty memory, not lack of gratitude! I meant for this to be a quick report but it’s ended up running fairly long!
My husband and I flew into Jackson on Tuesday evening. It was still light when we landed and we were already amazed by how beautiful it was. I knew the airport was in the park but I didn’t realize that we’d be landing next to the Tetons! We stayed at Homewood Suites in Jackson that night. Friendly people, nice room. They have free bikes to use (you can give a donation to the bike trail if you wish) so after breakfast the next morning (Wednesday), we decided to explore Jackson a bit. We followed the bike trail that runs along the highway north of town near the Elk Refuge. We biked out past the Wildlife Museum and if we had realized how far the trail went, we would have biked up to the National Park Sign (we didn’t want to take our coaster bikes with the big Homewood Suites signs on the highway). On the way back we stopped at the Visitor Center – highly recommend this. We bought bear spray ($49.95 for Counter Assault) and a trail map. They also gave us directions and helpful tips – told us that Grand Loop Road was closed between Lake and Canyon due to fire. We also stocked up with a cooler and supplies at Albertson’s (very nice grocery store). We ordered box lunches from Back Country Deli that were excellent – we ordered on line that morning and they were ready to pick up after we ran our other errands.
We headed north through GTNP, picnicked at String Lake and hiked the trail around the lake then headed north towards Yellowstone. We stopped multiple times to take pictures. One of the best places was Jackson Dam. We hiked west from the road on the trail along the lake and had spectacular views of the entire Teton Range.
When we reached the south entrance of Yellowstone, the ranger told us that the road between Lake and Canyon had just been opened. We headed toward Old Faithful Inn, where we were staying for 2 nights. The rooms at Old Faithful are nothing to write home about but you are staying in a National Monument so they are totally worth it. Dinner in the Inn dining room was very good. It was raining hard after dinner so we got a glass of wine and listened to the piano/cello/harp player in the lobby. The Inn’s lobby at night is gorgeous – it looked like it was lit with candles.
Thursday morning, we got up to see sunrise over the geyser basin. That has to be one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life! The sun was just peaking over the trees and Old Faithful erupted. There were only about 5 other people on the boardwalk. We hiked down to Morning Glory Pool and back and at times we could not see anyone else in the basin. We saw Grotto, Riverside and Daisy erupt that morning. With the cool air, you could see the stem from all of the small geysers – when we had seen the basin in the afternoon, we had no idea they were all out there.
We had breakfast at the Inn dining room before heading to Lake and Canyon. We stopped for pictures at several points along the Lake and at the Fishing Bridge. North of the Fishing Bridge, there was 6 miles of no stopping due to the fires, which were better after the previous night’s rain but I think they were still burning. We missed Mud Volcano and sulfur Cauldron because of this. We headed up to Canyon and just as we hiked out to the brink of the Upper Falls, it started raining – hard. Fortunately, we had packed rain gear. Unfortunately, we had left it in our room at Old Faithful Inn! We headed to Canyon Village to check out the gift shop and get a bite to eat until the rain let up. We also picked up incredibly fashionable blue rain ponchos at the sporting goods store at Canyon.
Canyon was the only place in the park during our visit that I would describe as crowded and it really wasn’t that bad. People were taking turns getting pictures at the overlooks and cars were waiting for someone else to pull out in order to get a spot. The sun came out after lunch and we headed over to the south rim where we hiked Uncle Tom’s Trail and out to Artist’s Point. I loved Uncle Tom’s Trail – we could see rainbows in the falls and had an incredible view. The stairs were strenuous but not terrible. The path out to Artist’s point was very smooth and had a lot of scenic spots for pictures. And Artist’s Point – well, we quickly figured out why it was called that! It was like looking at a postcard! It did start raining hard again on the way to Artist’s Point, so we were glad we bought the ponchos. We had dinner at the Lake Hotel on our way back to Old Faithful Inn. We did do the last part of that drive in the dark and I can see why everyone says not to drive at night in the park. Very nerve-wracking, just enough traffic so you can’t use your high-beams much.
Friday morning, we did a photo-safari with a guide from the Old Faithful Inn. The other couple who had signed up cancelled so we had the guide and the big yellow touring car to ourselves! I highly recommend this to anyone staying at the Inn. Wim was our guide and he taught us so much about photography and how to get the most out of our camera as well as showing us some hidden gems around the Old Faithful area. We checked out of the Inn and headed to Mammoth, where we had a cabin reservation. We were on a schedule since we were signed up for the Old West Cookout at Roosevelt that evening but we did stop at Gibbon Falls for some quick pictures and also at the Gallatin Range turnout. They were nice enough to let us check in an hour early at Mammoth and we headed over to Roosevelt. We finally saw a herd of bison at Roosevelt and took more pictures before riding the wagons out to the cookout. Loved the cookout – food was great and we loved the singing cowboy! On the drive back (in the daylight this time), we took pictures at Undine Falls and of one lone bison who was next to particularly picturesque pond.
Saturday morning, we were up at dawn again and walked the boardwalks around Mammoth Hot Springs. We also drove out to the north gate and took some pictures before going horseback riding. I loved the horseback riding – our guides were entertaining and Bunsen Peak and the surrounding area was some of my favorite scenery.
After the ride, we headed back down to Jackson, stopping at Grand Prismatic Pool and at Mormon Row in GTNP. We took in the Jackson Rodeo that night and I’m glad that was recommended to us – I had never seen a real rodeo before. The bull riding and barrel racing was impressive but “mutton-busting” has to be the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life!
We had an early afternoon flight out of Jackson on Sunday but had just enough time to ride the Alpine Slide at Snow King before driving to the airport. It was a beautiful ride up on the chairlift and just enough thrills on the way down!
It was an incredible trip that went way too fast! We will definitely be back!