11.11.15

Yellowstone National Park in 2 Days


Yellowstone was, to say the least, ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. I think my face in the photo below really communicates how I felt the entire two days. Yellowstone is big. And amazing. And you could be there for an entire week and still have lots to do and explore. I felt like I could spend forever driving through looking at the incredible mountains and valleys, but we only had 2 days, so we made it work! And it was a BLAST. To give you an overall idea, we started at the south entrance, and made our way up the West side on day 1, then covered the entire East side on day 2! In this post I'm going to share some of the highlights of our trip, and a few tips. 

DAY 1: West Side





After waking up in Jackson Hole, we drove through Grant Teton National Park and stopped to see those beautifully GRAND Tetons as well as some cool waterfalls and different pretty places on the way up. 

Grand Tetons

Lewis Falls




Then we headed straight to Old Faithful. 

TIP: It's hard to know when Old Faithful is going to erupt. But if you follow @GeyserNPS on Twitter, they post the eruption times, and the next predicted eruption times. They are surprisingly accurate! It was nice to take all the guessing out of it. Plus, since we knew we had a while till the next eruption, we just enjoyed the drive and stops along the way. 


Then we drove up a few miles north of Old Faithful to some other hot pools. If you drive just a few minutes north of Old Faithful, you'll come to the Artemisia trail heads. We walked along and discovered some pools! We were headed for Morning Glory Pool, because that was one I really wanted to see, but to be honest, I'm not really sure if we got there. There weren't any boardwalks by these pools, so we walked right out to them! Which was very very cool. Don't breath the sulfur. It's gross. 





If you've never been to Yellowstone, you might be surprised when you see roaming Bison for the first time. I know I was! I was so so excited to see Bison. We pulled over and watched them for maybe 20 minutes. Little did we know this would be the first of many times we'd run into these guys.

TIP: To save money and time, we brought some lunch food with us for the days we were going to be in the park. We brought some healthy snacks, some unhealthy snacks, a loaf of bread and stuff to make PB&J's as well as some stuff to make bagels! That along with a large case of water helped us save A TON of money. Plus, it was nice to be able to pull off to the side of the road and have an impromptu picnic whenever and wherever we wanted!







Gibbon Falls



Our final stop on day 1 was the Mammoth Hot Springs. There were boardwalks for us to walk on to see the gorgeous steps! We could hear Elk bugling around us, and when we walked back down to our car there were TONS of Elk just sitting around waiting to hang out with us, including this big guy who was just chillin by the boardwalk. 






Getting so close to these guys was totally amazing. I couldn't stop smiling, and calling at them to get them to bugle. It worked! I posted the video on Instagram. These are beautiful amazing creatures. Just gorgeous. 

By the end of day 1 we were on in the northwest corner of Yellowstone, so we decided to drive back down to West Yellowstone to stay the night. We had first planned on camping, but thought it would be too cold. I think we would've been fine though. Just when we pulled into West Yellowstone, completely exhausted from the long day, I looked up our hotel on the map, only to discover that it was actually in Big Sky, MT. Oops! After driving an hour to Buck's T-4 Lodge. I will say, it was the best mistake I ever made. The T-4 was absolutely incredible! And totally affordable. I would definitely stay there again. I HIGHLY suggest it.


DAY 2 - East Side


The first thing we did was wake up before the sun to head over to Lamar Valley to see some wildlife. All the blogs will tell you that you have to get there before the sunrise or you won't see anything. Every single ranger we asked said it honestly didn't matter. In our opinion, the world is just a more beautiful place when the sun is rising, so either way, I'd suggest getting up early and starting your day before the sun. Driving through Hayden Valley (below) in the early morning was just gorgeous.

Hayden Valley is where you're *supposed* to see wolves. Every day people will get up early and go out to Hayden Valley to set up their scopes. They'll spot the wolves then let visitors (like us) look through them! Unfortunately, none were spotted this morning, so we just stopped for a quick second to enjoy the view before heading on to Lamar Valley.

TIP: BRING YOUR OWN BINOCULARS. You never know when you'll need them! We even had some people ask to borrow ours. It's a must-have for this trip.

Hayden Valley

We may not have seen any wolves, but there were plenty of Bison to keep us company! When we entered Lamar Valley, we stopped a few times and watched them, then headed down to Lamar River to get in some fishing. 





Fishing was really cool. Not because we caught anything (we didn't) but because the landscape was absolutely beautiful. The most majestic thing I have ever seen. If you want to fish in Yellowstone, make sure you get a Yellowstone fishing license (state licenses aren't valid). You can pick one up at any of the ranger stations or the Yellowstone Information stops throughout the park. I would highly suggest getting one at the ranger station before entering the park, because sometimes the other stations are closed, but your map won't show that.

TIP: Stop at a ranger's station and ask them what's been going on in the park. They'll be able to tell you what the word is on where animals are, what to see and when, and tons of other really helpful tips!

Fishing the Lamar River was great. Across the river we could see probably 40+ bison grazing. It was really cool until they started crossing the river on both sides of us, and surrounding us, leaving us trapped between the bison and the river. As cool as those guys are, I did NOT want to get in their personal space, so I found a gap between two of them that we slowly, and quietly, snuck through. I will tell you, those things are pretty big, especially when you're less than 10 feet away from them and can see right into their eyes, with nothing to protect you if they decided that they didn't like you being so close to them! Maybe I'm being a little dramatic, but I was not ready to be so close.





We both decided that Lamar Valley was the prettiest place we experienced in Yellowstone. We could've stayed there for an entire day! But we knew if we wanted to see anything else before we had to leave, we couldn't stay long. So we ate some PB&J's and headed down south to the waterfalls.

The first was Tower Fall (pictured below). The tall spiky rock formations are technically the towers. I think there used to be a trail that lead you down to the bottom, but it was closed when we got there. So, this view is about all you get.




Next we headed to Lower Falls. There are a few different viewpoints you can walk or hike to to see the falls. If you want to get really close (pictured below), drive to Uncle Tom's Point, and hike down Uncle Tom's Trail. But be ready for it. You don't need to be in marathon shape, but don't be surprised when you find yourself totally winded on your way back up. It's not really a "leisurely stroll to the waterfall" like some of the other trails were. It was totally worth it though!

We also viewed the brink from Lookout Point, which was much farther away, but we could also see more of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which was unbelievable! This is where you find out why it's called "Yellowstone." Absolutely breathtaking.



Lower Falls
Brink of Lower Falls from Lookout Point

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone


After soaking in these wonderful views we headed up to Upper Falls. I don't have any great pictures, but it's still pretty cool! Not as grand, but we got up close to it! This was one of those times where we didn't take a lot of photos and just let it soak in. 

Just as we were getting ready for our journey home, Casey overheard someone in the bathroom talking about a grizzly bear in Hayden Valley. Seeing a bear was the major thing Casey wanted to do, so you could say this was impeccable timing. We jumped in our car and hurried down to the spot where we found at least 20 cars lined up to see the bear!

After watching the bear walk around, dig, eat, lay down, and walk around some more for about an hour, it decided to cross the street! It walked right over to the people, and crossed the road without flinching. I kept my distance, ready to hop in any stranger's car if I needed to. Other's weren't as smart. They chased after the bear. Before you think this will turn into a bear attack story, I'll just tell you that nothing happened. I don't think the little asian man with a tiny digital camera knew that if that bear turned around, he would be dead in about 5 seconds. Safe to say after getting that close to a bear, my heart was racing for the next hour. Yes, HOUR. It was absolutely crazy. And awesome! And the perfect cherry on to our perfect 2 days in Yellowstone.










Yellowstone is a pretty easy trip as far as planning and accessibility. It's a lot of driving, looking, stopping, enjoying, and good feelings. My advice overall would be to make sure you take time to soak it in, and don't just observe it from behind a camera lens. God created this beautiful earth for US, and there's only so much cameras can capture, so try to see it with your own eyes! I promise it's a feeling you'll never forget.

3 comments:

  1. I haven't been to Yellowstone for a few years now and this really makes me want to go again! Your photos are beautiful.

    Adventures in Everyday Life

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  2. these pictures are so gorgeous! I have never been to Yellowstone but after seeing these pics, it has been added to my list.
    www.constellationandcanine.com

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  3. Just found your blog through insta and I love this! Somehow I've managed to go to Jackson hole about a dozen times without ever going to Yellowstone, but I'm dying to. I'm kind of terrified of animals, the bison and bears would completely freak me out!

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