In July 2019 we had an amazing family trip out west.
Here is a short highlight video that really shows off the trip:
We drove up and over the Alpine Loop rd and made our way to the Olympic Park where we got to watch some ski jumpers practice by jumping and flipping into a pool. We then got to meet up with our friends Emily and David and spend some time in downtown Salt Lake City. Emily showed us around the famous Temple Square and then we got to see their amazing photography studio a few blocks from there. Their kids and our kids are the same age so they got to hang out today too.
Here’s some iPhone shots from today. Thanks for the extra pics Emily!
This evening we went out to Saltair on the edge of the Great Salt Lake. It definitely lived up to the hype of being stinky and kind of gross with bugs everywhere.
The bonneville salt flats are a bit too far out of the way, so in lieu of that, the boys had an epic (not epic) race here.
We started off with a long drive from Salt Lake City up to Bear Lake in Idaho. It’s just like Torch Lake in northern MI with the beautiful turquoise water.
Next we drive up past the Palisades Reservoir with a stop at Fall Creek Falls on the Snake River which is a gorgeous multi-tiered waterfall.
During the afternoon we drove a few hours from Bear Lake up to Yellowstone Bear World which is a drive through nature park where the animals walk right up to your car in some areas.
After that we went to check in to our hotel which I had prepaid through Hotwire. Unfortunately I had booked and prepaid for yesterday which we no-showed for and now the hotel was booked so that left us scrambling to find a new place at 8:00 at night in an area with limited options and high prices. Thankfully we found some cabins nearby. During that process we drove by signs for the rodeo which was a fun find. We had never been to one before so that was a unique experience for all of us!! Kole and Reid even got to run with lots of other kids to see who could pull a tag off of a running calf.
In the evening we ended up at a rodeo (Driggs, ID) with a backdrop of the Grand Tetons! The boys even got to go down and run around and chase a calf.
Today has been awesome. Absolutely perfect weather. We drove around the Tetons into Grand Teton National Park where we did a hike out to Taggert Lake. The cloudscapes today have been amazing.
One of the highlights was seeing a giant moose near the road.
The day hasn’t all been perfect though. We started the day leaving our cabin very early in the morning where I dropped our room key into the locked key box. About 30 seconds later, Cheridy got pooped on by a bird and she wanted to wash her hair but there was no way back in the room. Later in the afternoon, she left her phone inside the porta potty at the trailhead and we didn’t realize until many hours later. Thankfully it was still there when we went back!
So…this evening was incredible. We drove back into the park late on the day to catch the sunset and look for animals and we got both. We had a herd of buffalo crossing the highway so they were super close which was amazing. We also got to see some antelope way off in the distance but thanks to my iPhone on a digiscope, we got a nice closeup.
The sunset with the Tetons over the Snake River surely didn’t disappoint either!
Today we started out at Mormon Row which is one of the most iconic scenes from the Grand Tetons. We then made our way to Jenny Lake which is a really popular spot to start a hike.
We took the boat across to the other side of the lake and then hiked to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. It was an absolutely perfect morning for it.
This evening we started at the Jackson Lake Lodge where we had dinner. The panoramic view of the whole Teton range through the lobby windows is incredible!
After dinner, we headed out looking for animals again. A storm front blew over the mountains giving us some dramatic skies. We saw more buffalo tonight today along with a lot of horses.
The moody skies over the mountains made for an excellent sunset.
Made it to Yellowstone. The cheapest hotel we could get was $430 per night and it has zero amenities. Not even WiFi. I wish we would have stayed outside the park. We stayed inside because we wanted to be close to stuff but the park is so big, we are still an hour drive from a lot of the stuff.
We started our day with a relaxing sleep in day which felt fantastic. We then drove up to Yellowstone National Park. Our first stop was Old Faithful which we learned was not very faithful after all. It is supposed to blow every 70-90 minutes but ended up going off almost half an hour early which was then confusing for everyone because we didn’t know if it was the full eruption or just a quick spout. It was still neat to see.
The park was insanely crowded so we decided to just make our way up to the hotel and come out later in the evening.
We had a quick stop at Gibbon Falls and the Artist Paint Pots on the way. The Paint Pots has a bubbling mud pit which was really cool.
Our hotel is right by the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone so we took advantage of that and went to view the 300ft Lower Yellowstone Falls.
Our hotel was really close to Hayden Valley. We took advantage of that this evening. Hayden valley is known for having tons of animals. First we saw a grizzly bear from far away. Then it was a couple of bull Elks followed by herds of Buffalo with their calves and herds of elk as well. There were animals around every corner!!
Driving around Yellowstone during peak season in the middle of the day is not a fun experience. Some of the turnoffs you have to park half a mile down the road. So for our second day in the park, we woke up at 6:00am and went to some of the popular spots long before they got crowded. We started at the Grand Prismatic Spring. Unfortunately the weather was much colder and with the hot water coming from the ground and the cold air temperature, there was a lot more steam which was masking the color of the water. However, it did provide a dramatic backdrop for a silhouette picture of Cheridy and the boys walking together.
We then walked around the Bisquit Basin area followed by the Upper Geyser Basin which is where Old Faithful is.
After that, we started to loop back around and stopped at the mud volcanoes. There was a bubbling mud pit with a Buffalo sitting right next to it. There is nothing that says “Yellowstone” like a bubbling mud pit and a buffalo.
In the evening we drove up to mammoth hot springs for dinner. On the way, we saw multiple black bears which was amazing.
Reid yelled out “bear, I saw a bear!!” So we had to turn the car around and go back. What he thought was a bear was actually just a burned out tree stump. The crazy part is that near the burned out tree stump, there actually was a bear!
We then went into Lamar Valley and saw a coyote, antelope, and LOTS of buffalo.
Some of the photos and videos are not super clear because they were shot with my iPhone from 100+ yards away using a 60x spotting scope. Having my phone attached to the scope drew a crowd because the it was hard to see the bear from so far away but the scope brought it real close.
We headed out of the park to Bozeman. We’ve been spending so much time out in nature that it was time to mix things up for the boys.
Our hotel had an indoor pool so the kids got to do some swimming. We then went and watched the new Spiderman movie.
After that we met up with cousin Paige and her boyfriend Ryan for a yummy dinner followed by some time at the climbing gym for some bouldering. Paige and Ryan do a lot of mountain climbing so it was fun to be able to go with them to their local climbing gym.
Reid is like a spider monkey and really took to the walls well. Kole and Mayz has fun with it too.
Time to head home!