I wanted to share my favorite things from our trip, things that could have been better, and my best advice for planning our next getaway.
These were my favorite places to visit in Yellowstone.
First, the Grand Prismatic Spring at the Midway Geyser Basin. We arrived here shortly before sunset and the place just had a great atmosphere. It was cold outside, in the 40s, which helped create this steam everywhere that made the place beautiful. There was a wooden boardwalk that allowed us to walk on top of the prismatic spring and see all the variations in color. The geyser basin was full of clear blue water that steamed and created a beautiful cloud.
Second, the drive to Mammoth Hot Springs was beautiful. The road twists and turns through the mountains, and sheer cliffs revealing breath taking views. The hot springs were interesting, but the drive was what made it worth it.
Third, the Lower Falls viewed from the Artist Point. The waterfall was loud and beautiful and drops into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone which is intimidating and deep.
Fourth, seeing buffalo up close. Within the first ten minutes of driving into Yellowstone, we came upon a herd of bison that were unbothered by vehicles, and walked right next to us within arms reach.
Fifth, Old Faithful. This was our first stop, it was cold and very windy that day. The geyser erupted about twenty minutes after the predicted time. While we waited, steam slowly rolled out of the ground. The best part was seeing my five year old's reaction, he jumped up and down, excited to see the water erupting from the earth.
We also enjoyed the drive home through the Grand Tetons. These mountains were beautiful. We want to go back and spend more time exploring. We had planned to ride the gondola up the mountains at the ski resort, but it was closed. We also enjoyed driving through Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and want to return to check out all the cute shops. We stopped for lunch at a beautiful restaurant called Hand Fire Pizza. It is located inside an old theater that has been renovated to suit the restaurant. They have two massive wood fire ovens in the same room as the dining room; so, we could watch the pizzas as they were being made.
West Yellowstone, Montana, the town we stayed in located West of Yellowstone National Park, was great, with tons of unique restaurants and stores. There just wasn't enough time to see everything. We didn't make time to visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center which I think we would have enjoyed. When you enter the park, you will receive a map that looks like the one below, that is super helpful; so, you can mark the places you want to see and plan your route.
The best restaurant we went to was Beartooth Barbecue in West Yellowstone. This place is relatively small; so, get there early, or on a weekday before the crowd. It was delicious. Everything was good. I had sliced brisket, baked beans, and cowboy caviar which was a corn and bean salad tossed in vinegar. My son had chipped beef sliders with house made barbecue chips which were delicious. And my husband also got a chipped beef sandwich with baked beans. My youngest was content with just a bun. We were all happy with our meal, and shared a peach cobbler for dessert. The atmosphere was welcoming and friendly, the waitress and manager were kind, and made sure we had everything we needed. I wish this place was located closer to home; so, I could visit as often as I wished.
Some cons from our trip, there was a lot of time spent in the car. We did not realize how huge Yellowstone was, and how far each sight was from one another. With two young children, it was tough. A lot of the driving looks the same, the scenery doesn't change, and there is a lot of one species of tree.
Here is my best advice if you are planning a trip to Yellowstone, and the advice I would give myself for a similar road trip. Bring enough groceries with you; so, everyone can eat breakfast at the hotel. That way you can get going more quickly into the park. We had a sit down breakfast one morning, and it was slammed. I think we spent an hour and a half there, mostly waiting for our food. I would also pack snacks, and enough food for lunch for a day in the park. All the cafeterias in the park don't have a great reputation for their food. That way you can have a picnic, or can eat on the go to the next scenic spot. If you do want to eat at a restaurant, they have lots of good places to eat outside of the park. With this in mind, we planned on eating dinner in West Yellowstone, where our hotel was located.
It's best to visit Yellowstone or any popular destination during the week. Wednesday night was fine, but by Thursday night the restaurants were full and had an hour wait, our hotel had no vacancies. We hopped in the McDonald's line, instead of waiting at a restaurant. McDonald's was busy too, and probably took a good twenty minutes of waiting in the drive through line, but once we got up to the intercom, we got our food quickly, and it was probably my kids' favorite meal. I asked my five year old what his favorite thing from our trip, and he said the hotel, which I love and laugh. It helps to remember that the things we think will be the most fun or interesting aren't necessarily what our kids enjoy the most.
So, weekdays, Monday through Wednesday, are probably the least busy. Of course, the next time we plan a trip, we will be looking for places that have a lot to see in closer proximity to each other; so, we aren't spending most of our time in the car. I hope this helps you plan your next road trip. I'd love to hear where you are going, safe travels.
#trip #road #roadtrip #yellowstone #vacation #grand #tetons #spring #geyser #waterfall #barbecue #west #westyellowstone #old #faithful #grand #prismatic #midway #lower #falls #artist #point #mammoth #hot #springs #wyoming #jackson #hole #toddler #toddlers #travel #kid #kids #mom #blog #blogger #wingleader #wingleaderblog #utah #utahmom #beartooth