Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons! {2016 Roadtrip #5}

Can I just start by saying, FINALLY! Ha. We were originally supposed to take this trip back in April. Then we were hoping for June. But it finally worked out for September! It was definitely worth the wait.

I have wanted to visit Yellowstone ever since I was a child. It was one of the first National Parks I learned about. I watched as they brought wolves back in with amazing results. It's iconic landscapes and unique geothermal attractions, made it a must see. Despite the planning problems, I was not going to be kept away! Last Friday Gwen and I got up and started the 9.5 - 10 hour journey up through Colorado, and across most of the height of Wyoming.

I will say, this was probably the camping trip I was least prepared for in terms of time spent immediately beforehand. I had looked at trails and made some plans way back before our initial first trip date. Then I had booked our campsite when things got changed around. But the two weeks leading up to last weekend were some of the busiest I'd had in a while. I found myself getting my tires changed the day before we left, and packing at car at 11pm that night! Thankfully, we're pretty much pros at this by now, and we knew exactly what we needed.

I'm not going to lie... we played hookie from school and work on Friday to go. Its a day's drive, so not bad, but long enough, and we wanted to be there in time to set up the tent before dark. That gave us all day Saturday and all day Sunday to play before leaving on Monday (Labor Day - so no school or work!) to come home.

The drive up was long, but nothing we couldn't handle at this point. It was also rather pretty! Wyoming is a pretty state, especially the Northern (and Western) areas.

I don't think Gwen knew quite what to expect from this trip, but between seeing an Elk and some nice geothermal steam action within our first 20 minutes in the park, and she was sold!

I was sold before we even got there, but especially so once I saw that it was already Autumn in Yellowstone! I got to see reds and oranges that I have hardly seen since leaving the East Coast.

We set up camp the first night, and got to bed a bit early, since I knew we'd be up early the next day.

Saturday was our Yellowstone day. I'd originally picked two trails to hike, but we ended up scrapping those plans in the interest of just heading out to see all there was to see!

"Artists Paint Pots"

We started heading North towards Mammoth, making frequent stops.

We got to see a bear from the side of the road (he was wayyy far down the hill, the closest I wanted to be to any bear!).

We stopped in Mammoth for lunch, and to hit up the Visitor's Center for our National Park Passport stamps. We also got to check out some elk having their own grassy lunch from a random lawn!

The magic of Yellowstone... Gwen tried her first hamburger!!

We saw more elk on the way East from Mammoth (towards Tower Falls), and then got caught in the most Yellowstone of traffic jams:

We were happy to wait (those guys are HUGE!).

Tower Falls was lovely, as was the river below.

After that we headed South (but on the East side, instead of the West). We hit more "traffic" then too! Our final animal tally ended up being one bear, a few deer, and more elk and bison then we could count! (No illusive moose or wolf sightings, we were a little bummed about that!)

We ended that day with a trip to see Old Faithful. You can't go to Yellowstone and not see Old Faithful!

It was suitably impressive! (Though the grey skies and clouds did not make for the most impressive pictures... sorry.)

Sunday was our Grand Tetons day, though we hit up a few more spots on our way out of Yellowstone:

Its only about 1.5 hours from our campsite in Yellowstone down to Grand Teton National Park... and it was definitely worth the trip!

We stopped at the Coulter Bay Visitor's Center since it was towards the top of the park, a great place to get our stamps, and it was the site of the first trail I'd picked out beforehand.

It did not disappoint!

Unfortunately we only got about a .5 mile out, and half way through our picnic, when the clouds rolled in and the lightning started flashing!

We hightailed it back to the car, then decided to wait out the storm by heading a little farther South into the Park and seeing some other views of the mountains.

While the second trail I picked ended up being a bit farther down then we wanted to go, there was plenty to enjoy in between!

We took a few turns to get us closer to the mountains.

And explored along the edge of one of the many lakes...

It was all so amazing gorgeous!
After that we did head back up to complete our hike, and it was so worth it.

We headed back to Yellowstone that night, grabbing some dinner in one of the towns, then turning in early.

Monday we were up bright and early to start the return trip home (I packed up the tent in the rain... bah!). We had to pull over just one more time before leaving the park, I was loath to leave all this beauty behind!!

It was a gorgeous weekend. We definitely could have spent longer in both places, but we really enjoyed our days, and I'm so glad we got here. It was so good to get home to Trav and Daisy, and I can't wait until I can take Trav back there.

In the meantime, check Wyoming (and Yellowstone) off our list!

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