Our Trip to Yellowstone and The Grand Tetons
Here's a recap of our Yellowstone trip from this past September! It was amazing!!!
We got in to Jackson Hole late after a travel day and stayed at a hostel there overnight before getting up early to make the 2 hour drive up to Yellowstone. The first day of our trip was all about geysers. The first stop of the day was the Upper Geyser Basin (home of Old Faithful) to beat the crowds early in the morning. And then, we headed to Midway Geyser Basin, where the Grand Prismatic Spring is located. The colors are really as brilliant as they look in the pictures! They are created by the different microorganisms living in different temperatures within the hot springs. 🌈 yay science!
We got up at the butt crack of dawn (which was actually pretty easy since we were still on East Coast Time) and made the long drive up to the Lamar Valley, a prime location for wildlife viewing. For the most part, we struck out other than a few coyotes and a bald eagle, but it was beautiful to watch the sunrise over the landscape. We had the most special moment of our morning on the drive back toward the heart of the park. We turned a corner to see a herd of bison stretching out across a hill near a trailhead and quickly pulled off to get a closer look. And the most magical part was that for a while, it was just us and the bison. Yellowstone was really busy with lots and lots of people, which although we knew to expect it with recent reports of the National Parks being so overcrowded, was still somewhat jarring, but this was a moment where it was just us and nature. All you could hear were the bison chatting amongst themselves and clopping over the hillcrest to the river below as the sun continued to rise in the sky.
Later on our second day in the park, we explored the Mammoth Springs area which makes you feel like you are on a different planet entirely. The formations are like little, orange, steaming alien steps (just go with me on this one 👽). Mammoth Springs area is also the location that is known for the Elk rut in the fall, which we missed by probably 2-3 weeks, but if you have never heard an elk “bugling”, you need to youtube this immediately because it is quite the sound to behold. For the sake of our rental car, it was good we weren’t there at this time because they have been known to charge, and I’m not sure the rental company would have loved getting a car back with antler holes in it. While we were up on that side of the park, we YOLO’d it and drove all the way up to the North Entrance to see the Roosevelt Arch. This part of the drive was one of our favorites because it was more mountainous up in this direction than some other parts of the parks. We also accidentally stumbled on the 45th parallel (halfway between the equator and the North Pole), so that was a fun photo op, as well. Our last stop of the day was the Norris Geyser Basin which is apparently the hottest and oldest thermal area in the park. Steamboat Geyser, which is the tallest Geyser in the world, is there and trust me when I say, you do not want to be too close when it decides to go off (ask the burnt trees around it yikes!). Overall, a long and busy day with lots of awesome sights.
Days 3 & 4
We started our third day in Yellowstone with easily one of the most impressive sights of the whole trip, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Wow wow wow. There’s a reason it’s one of the most photographed spots in the park, but those photos will never quite do it justice. The Brink of the Lower Falls is so impressive because you are standing right next to the massive falls as the water spills into the canyon which absolutely dwarfs you. We finished out the south loop on day 3, which included a nap in the car at Lake Yellowstone because we had way overextended ourselves on days 1 and 2 and hit a bit of a wall by day 3. We realized we needed a more chill day on day 4 of the trip because of the sheer amount of activity and driving and sightseeing on the previous days, so we went to a grizzly bear and wolf rescue in the morning, did a short hike up to the overlook above Grand Prismatic Springs, and had a picnic at National Park Mountain where it was less congested with people. One last little highlight I included in the is a buffalo taking a dirt bath for your viewing pleasure. Rub a dub dub.
We spent three days exploring the Grand Tetons and Jackson, WY, which we loved. The Tetons felt less crazy busy and congested with people than Yellowstone, which was a breath of fresh air (although would still recommend going to popular spots early in the day to beat the crowds, primarily at the Jenny Lake area). The Tetons are so beautiful and although it was fairly hazy the entire time during our trip due to wildfires out west, a few days were more clear, so we could see more of the details on the mountains. Jenny Lake was beautiful, and it’s no wonder it is so popular. The water is so clear blue-green and it sits right at the bottom of the mountains. Lounging by the river running through the Grand Tetons NP (Snake River, I think?) was so peaceful and definitely what I needed after being surrounded by people during most of our time at Yellowstone. Jackson Hole is sooo cute and would definitely recommend spending some time in town. Here’s the thing, though. Just don’t expect to be able to afford any art work in the art galleries. Literally saw a statue of a wolf that was $45,000. Not lying. We’ll just leave that one for the rich and famous who visit. When we were in Yellowstone, we met a couple that comes to watch the wildlife every year, and they filled us in on a moose spotting location near Jackson. They told us we had a 50/50 chance of seeing moose (meese? mooses?), and they were right!!! We got to see a large male sleeping in the bushes and a mom and baby nomming on some foliage by the river. SO COOL!!!
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My name's Ashley, and I'm the photographer behind Ashley Deanna Photography. I am a fun and quirky wedding and engagement photographer serving Cleveland, OH, Akron, OH, and the Northeast Ohio region. Thanks for checking out the blog!