We had a great time on our 3 week road-trip adventure through the Western US and National Parks. Check out Part 1 about the Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce here! Before we headed off on the second part of our trip, we took some downtime in beautiful Park City, Utah. The Marriott Vacation Club there was great – convenient to restaurants and awesome activities.
Next, we headed to West Yellowstone, MT and stayed at the Yellowstone Lodge. While not fancy, the connecting rooms here with fridges and microwaves were fantastic. It was a great home base for our days into Yellowstone, plus there was a pool and continental breakfast! We enjoyed our evenings out in this Montana town and can’t wait to go back and see more of the Big Sky state. In the meantime, Yellowstone was a sight to see! Wow! Hot springs, mud pots, geysers and more on top of a caldera are something that’s hard to find. Much like the Grand Canyon, we found this a special spot where the pictures don’t do it justice. We again used the GyPSY app and enjoyed all of the commentary and stopping points while driving throughout the park. Our first day we did the north loop and went out into Lamar Valley, where we just missed a mama bear and cubs but saw tons of bison, pronghorn antelope, and moose/elk. Our friends saw wolves in their binoculars so we hope to catch those on another trip! Our second day, we did the south loop and checked out the geysers, Yellowstone Lake and the falls/artist point. This park truly has SO much to see and do you could easily spend a week here. We splurged with our third night at Old Faithful Inn, which while older with very basic accommodations (no TVs or WiFi) is beautiful and so fun to watch the geyser erupt from the balcony! We enjoyed walking the upper basin in the morning and all of the great eruptions in that area before heading to the Grand Tetons!
It was a short and easy drive from Yellowstone to Jackson Lake Lodge in the Grand Tetons. GyPSY again provided commentary for the duration! We quickly fell in love with the Tetons and JLL . The “cottages” are so cute and spacious, and so convenient to all of the activities. We loved the views from the lobby and having lunch in the Mural Room , plus sitting out on the terrace where rangers came by with models and facts to entertain the kids. We saw plenty of wildlife, too! Elk, foxes, even a bear! We enjoyed hiking in the morning from Jenny Lake to Hidden Falls and driving the loop to take in the many scenic views. The smoke from the west coast fires was a bummer and made for poor visibility at times, but it just made us want to return even more. Next time we want to float on the Snake River and hit some more of the trails!
On our way to Arches in Moab, UT, we stopped in Denver CO to visit with old friends and family we hadn’t seen since the start of the pandemic. It was a fun weekend and a good way to break up our last national parks! While we didn’t go to parks there, Mr CT and our son drove up over 14000 feet to Mount Evans where they saw wildlife and amazing views! We had a great time at the Springhill Suites in Moab, which is a great hotel with an amazing pool, splash pad, breakfast, and other resort games and amenities. It was just minutes from the entrance to Arches and extremely convenient. Arches National Park is a super cool spot to visit, as it’s smaller and many of its features can be seen from the road or pull-out areas. Once again, GyPSY was a great companion! We did some short hikes to arches in Devil’s Garden off the beaten path, and to the viewpoints for Delicate Arch. After heading out around lunchtime, we drove through nearby Canyonlands NP to get a taste for it and plan to return! It’s great when parks are so conveniently close together! We ended our 3 week trip with a few nights in Phoenix at the Canyon Villas, enjoying pools, resting and visiting with more friends before heading home to So Cal!
Our kids loved collecting Junior Ranger booklets and badges at each National Park. These are free and a fun and easy souvenir if you visit! They’re also extremely educational and we all learned a lot from working on the activities. It gave us more value and investment at each park!
If you’re ever up for planning some outdoor adventures of your own, please contact me to help plan your stay. At Magical Partners Travel we specialize in Disney, but have plenty of knowledge about other destinations like Hawaii, cruises, and exploring the outdoors as well! 🙂