I have to start this post by saying this– Grand Teton was an afterthought to Yellowstone, and had I known how amazing it was going to be, I would have spent an extra day here. We woke up early morning and drive from Yellowstone towards the south entrance which is where Grand Teton National Park starts. This Park doesn’t really get all the fame of Yellowstone and I don’t honestly know why. The mountains are stunning, we saw almost as much variety of wildlife here on one drive as we did in 3 days at Yellowstone. The Jackson Lake Lodge was an extremely nice lodge, and had a great breakfast. After we were done eating, we continued our drive towards the south end of the park, taking photos as we went.
After a day sightseeing in Las Vegas, we headed to the airport and caught an Allegiant Flight to Idaho Falls. If there ever was a competition for most terrible flying experience, flying on Allegiant Air would win the grand prize. Idaho Falls Airport (IDA) is very small, and we were able to quickly grab a rental car from the Hertz Gold area while waiting for luggage to arrive. Once we had our luggage, we headed to Walmart to grab some hiking snacks and grabbed lunch at a local BBQ restaurant. From there it was a very easy drive, some interstate and quite a bit of vacant back roads.
After arriving in Yellowstone via the West entrance, we headed towards Old Faithful. Old Faithful isn’t the most active, or the largest geyser in the park, but it’s one of the most active large geysers, so it’s perhaps the best known tourist destination in the park. Along the way, we stopped to take photos at a few of the parking areas along the lower geyser basin. Just before Old Faithful, I chose a quiet trail to propose to Kaitlin on 🙂 (see photos in gallery). We arrived at Old Faithful just in time, it started to erupt within only a few minutes of waiting. That night we stayed in the Lake Yellowstone Hotel area, but in a frontier cabin instead of the hotel. I had read mixed reviews on these cabins, but they were very clean and very basic. No wifi access. We ate in the dining hall and the dinner was fantastic.
The next morning we headed towards Hayden and Lamar Valley’s looking for wildlife. If you’re looking for wildlife spotting tips– stop reading here, we didn’t have much luck this trip. We saw tons of bison, a few female elk, a couple of prong horn, and that was it. We did see plenty of stunning scenery however. The next two nights we stayed in a Frontier Cabin at Canyon Lodge. This cabin was set back in the woods a little ways away from the dining hall, but it was only a couple minutes drive to dinner, or they’d even pick you up with a free shuttle (although we never used it). The food here was a lot more basic than what we experienced at Lake Hotel, but I had a bison burger which was very reasonably priced and also tasty.
The following morning we once again went looking (without success) for wildlife along Hayden and Lamar Valleys. Still beautiful landscapes, but no wildlife. We then headed to Mammoth Hot Springs, which turned out to be the name of the town and not actually a large hot spring as we had expected. On the way back we stopped to see Yellowstone Falls. This sit was extremely crowded, but the view was amazing. We pushed ourselves in for a quick photo. Around here was the first time I “got” why they called it YELLOWstone, the canyon walls carved by the river were yellow. Same formations as what you always see around the Grand Canyon, but the walls were yellow instead of read– super neat.