Last year, the plan was to go camp at Yellowstone National Park in mid-June, and then stay at an Airbnb near Grand Teton National Park for a few days after that. As you know, last year kinda became a whole thing, so our reservations were canceled and we couldn’t go. We’ve still got a vacation timeline planned for the next few years, so if the Yellowstone trip was going to happen, we had to fit it in this year along with a trip to Florida in June.
I’d never been to Yellowstone, but Brooke went many times over the years when she was growing up because her grandparents worked there for multiple Summers. Brooke did the research for this trip and decided that early May was probably our best bet to see things without having to deal with ridiculous crowds. The country is opening up and a lot of folks are ancy to get to vacationing, so Yellowstone (among other places) is likely to get all kinds of crazy as the Summer progresses. Therefore, we opted to leave the day after graduation and take the kids out of school (which, by the way, Meg wasn’t all that excited about because she’d miss MAP testing…that kid is ridiculous….).
We packed up the car on May 1st and hit the road around 6:00 am on May 2nd, planning for a pretty lengthy car ride to get out there. It’s a ~20 hr drive and some of the entrances to the park were still shut down for the Winter, so we had to drive to the Western side of the park in order to even get in. Our ultimate destination was West Yellowstone, MT, but we stopped in Rawlins, WY at the end of Day One to maintain our sanity. That only left a 7 hour drive on Day Two, though we took a bit of a detour into Grand Teton National Park for part of the day. We didn’t get to see all that much in Grand Teton, but at least we can say “we went.”
The only thing we did in Grand Teton was stop off at an old cabin near the foot of the mountains. Granted, it wasn’t all that exciting, per se, but the view was excellent and we got our first taste of the region.
After that, we opted to stay at the hotel in West Yellowstone rather than dip into Yellowstone. We had the time, but figured checking out the swimming pool would be good for the kids’ morale.
The next day, we first hit Old Faithful. It was pretty snowy and cold, though we were prepared for the weather. We weren’t necessarily prepared for the lack of visibility, though. Old Faithful went off like clockwork and the crowds were minimal (like, 20 people? Shockingly minimal….), but because the geyers was hot and the surrounding air was cold, the steam was pronounced and difficult to see through. It was still pretty cool, though! We took a walk to see some of the other features around Old Faithful and tried getting used to the smell of sulfur.
After Old Faithful, we went to the Grand Prismatic Spring. When we arrived, it actually started snowing pretty heavily, so we folded the chairs down and just ate lunch in the car. The snow only lasted a few minutes, so we were able to get out and walk around just in time for lunch to be over. Again, while it looked pretty cool, the cold air caused all the steam to be extra thick and hard to see through. I wouldn’t say it was disappointing, but it wasn’t ideal.
The last thing we did that day was to visit Norris Geyser Basin. By this point, the sun had come out and the weather had improved dramatically, so visibility got better along with it. This basin wasn’t as exciting as the other features we’d already seen, but we’re glad we went because it gave Meg a chance to read the map and describe multiple other features along the basin to us. Both kids were pretty tired of riding in the car by this point (it’s a solid 20-30 minutes between different sites in the park, and it can easily take hours to traverse the whole thing, so two days of driving kind of turned into three. Meg’s mood wasn’t….great….so giving her a job of reading geyser descriptions to us ended up making things better. Again, there weren’t all that many folks there, so we were able to take our time walking around the boardwalk, so it turned out to be a good way to end our first full day in the park.
Stay tuned for more!