This trip was very special to me as I saw places I’d only heard of but never in my life made the time to see. Normally you plan things out when you travel, researching points of interest you’d like to see. Not us! We packed up the car with only our main destinations in mind for a true adventure.
Driving to our first destination in Wyoming was fun. While Nevada and parts of Idaho don’t have much to look at, wait until you hit Wyoming. I’ve never seen landscapes so stunning. Before arriving in Jackson, we drove through Swan Valley and found homes with streams in their backyards and a mountainous landscape towering high above. As we drove through the pass, we came into Jackson, Wyoming, a really cool old western town. It’s extremely popular and rightfully so. They have lots of neat shops, restaurants and cute places to stay. Plus the nightlife is just as happening as the daytime, so make sure to bring your cowboy boots!
Stop by Pearl Street Bagels for a quick and delicious bite to eat. Thanks to KÜHL employee Ed for the stellar recommendation!
Grand Teton National Park
I gasped at first sight of the Tetons. Here are these tall, jagged peaks; unique in shape; straight up from the ground; covered in snow with a lush green forest underneath it. Wow – just wow! I felt so small just looking at them.
Mormon Row is a very popular spot in the park. A group of settlers from the 1890s built this row of unique barns and buildings. We visited at sunset and sunrise to capture some epic images of what’s considered the world’s most photographed barn and watched a great lightning show in the distance.
We ventured further down the road to Jackson Lake and Oxbow Bend for beautiful reflections in the lake. This area is known for bear sightings. We didn’t see bears but saw herds of elk and buffalo around every corner.
Our final stop was Jenny Lake. If you’re into fitness like me, this is a great place for an epic nature run with breathtaking views.
Make sure and check the park updates. Jenny Lake trail was undergoing renovations, and parts of it were closed.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone or Jellystone, whatever you call it, it’s INCREDISTONE. Yellowstone is America’s first National Park, and it’s THE park of parks! Words cannot express my happiness to visit this place; it had been on my bucket list for years.
We entered the West entrance and to our surprise hit a snow storm. But we never let weather damper a trip, and we always make the best of the conditions. The snow made for great wildlife photos!
We took the road to Old Faithful first. There is so much to see along this route – wildlife, geysers, and the incredible landscape itself. We saw green trees, then dead trees, fallen over from the gases released from the geysers and springs. Reminiscent of Jurassic Park, you can’t stop looking around in wonder.
Fountain Paint Pot was my favorite spot in this area. You follow a wooden ramp past a beautiful teal spring, bubbling mud, gushing red water, and numerous geysers.
We visited Old Faithful and were lucky enough to catch the eruption twice! Our last stop in this area was the Grand Prismatic Spring. The snow was coming down pretty hard, but we still saw the amazing colors. The heat from the springs was intense, and we could hear the water boiling as we walked along the path.
Next we visited Canyon Village to see the waterfall and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Traveling even further into the park we hit Mammoth Hot Springs and Lamar Valley. If you’re in search of wildlife, this is the spot! We saw 12 bears total (black bears and grizzly), as well as moose, elk, buffalo, coyote, bald eagle, a fox (rare sight during the day), and many more!
This is a dream location for wildlife photographers. There are spotters along the road looking for wolves. Everyone is extremely friendly, and if you ask, they will let you look into the scopes.
Helpful Hint: Carry bear spray if you plan on hiking in Yellowstone. Heed signs are posted throughout the park – this is Grizzly country. Do not hike solo; go with a group.
Top Places to Stay & Eat
- Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel – get one of the cabins here! They are super adorable, quiet and come with a cute bear shaped soap. I’m a sucker for cuteness!
- Cook City – we stayed here for one night due to the weather. There are many hotel options, but we have to mention The Bistro. The owner is from Italy and takes great pride in his food. He makes incredible desserts; Axle raved about his creme brulee!
- Canyon Village – there are some cute shops in the park, but this one has groceries and a delicious cafe. It’s a great place to grab some breakfast before hitting the trails!
- West Yellowstone – this town has several food and lodging options. Our favorite place to eat was the Slippery Otter. It just so happened that Axle recognized the employees from years past. If you see Beau and Carlos, tell them hello for us!
Glacier National Park
Glacier was the final National Park on our this trip. Only a few roads were open, but we got to see gorgeous reflections in Lake McDonald Valley and a family of bears.
The forest in the park is so dense; it’s complete darkness when you look into the trees. We drove through the park to capture views from Fish Creek Campground and were lucky enough to see a mama bear and her two cubs eating and running in and out of the woods.
After spending a few hours on the lake shore, we headed to Columbia Falls. I had a Spartan Race (Beast) in Flathead Lake that weekend, and I must say, the views were worth it all!
Finally we headed home but not without a stop along the way. We visited the Shoshone Falls in Idaho. Known as the Niagara Falls of the West, the falls are a raging beauty, and there is a constant rainbow in the mist as the water rushes down the canyon.
- KÜHL mountain apparel always keeps us warm and dry. The new Women’s SKÜLPT SERIES is the perfect crossover between athletic and mountain wear.
- When we camp, we take our Grand Trunk hammocks. We’re not tent campers, and the lightweight hammocks are easy to carry in our packs.
- Ridgemont Outfitters is our choice for comfortable and reliable hiking boots.
- We took a lot of camera equipment on this trip, and our THULE camera bags easily shouldered the load.
Axle and Royce began their adventures together in Spring 2017. After serving in the Air Force, Axle found his passion in photography. Royce is an athlete, an outdoor adventurist and a photographer. They’ve combined forces to inspire others to get outside. Living in Northern California, they’re lucky to be in close proximity to mountains, desert and beach. There’s no shortage of adventure where they live, and there’s no destination they won’t explore. Follow their adventures on Instagram @axleethington and @casunshine0508