The minute I met my boyfriend, my life has been filled with a whirlwind of adventures that include the wonderful beauties of the outdoors. Our most recent adventure was set in Wyoming. The moment the work bell rang, we dashed off from Los Angeles, CA to WY with an estimated time of arrival (ETA) of 16 hours and 42 minutes one-way to meet the wonders of Yellowstone and Grand Teton.
From CA -> NV -> AZ -> UT -> ID -> WY.
In 1872, Yellowstone was the first national park established in the United States. Yes, you are entering history here. This park is 3,468 square miles found in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana regions . The lands are surrounded by lakes, canyons, rivers, and mountain ranges along with geysers, pools, and springs, oh my! Geothermic activity lives and breathes here for there is still an active volcano bellowing underneath the grounds. You will find the historic ‘Old Faithful’ here. Why so faithful? Well this geyser is the only geyser that can be predicted +/- 10 minutes by the park rangers.
There are many species of wildlife here, but be careful, you don’t want to get too close for we watched a video on it at the Visitor Center. On our trip, we happened to meet a Bison during our restroom stop. He was just chilling in the shade and this writer loves animals. So I found it as a sweet amuse-bouche to the wonderful animals we were able to see as our trip continued.
Of the many campsites available, we stayed at Grand Village Campgrounds. My boyfriend is an expert in getting campsites last minute, even during the busy July 4th weekend — that’s what I call talent. Based on the many campsites we have encountered, I would rate our campsite: 3 out of 5 stars. As a camper, I prefer not to be so close in proximity to our neighbors and we found that there wasn’t much privacy. Plus, being in many bear inhabited areas, this campsite only had one bear proof storage bin that was so small and we had to share with our neighbors. I guess I have been pampered by so many campsites that each campsite has a large bear proof storage bin that you can even place a large cooler inside of it plus many other items. I also found the site to be too secluded by nature that it almost felt claustrophobic. I liked the many flushing toilets and what was nice about the campsite was that the restroom included a dish wash area. The park rangers are watching your campsites very closely. We were warned repeatedly about keeping all our items — not just food items — but pots, pans, grills, etc. to be placed inside our car or in the bear proof bins. The bears here aren’t like California bears, they like to mess with our cookware. But… they don’t mess with our cars, which was a nice plus. I guess Yellowstone bears haven’t figured that out yet.
Highlights of our trip:
Geysers, pools, and Old Faithful.
We walked Shoshone Lake (via DeLacey Creek) which was a fairly easy 5.8 mile roundtrip hike. We encountered a TON of mosquitos. Tip #1: Put on mosquito repellent! We were bit by many mosquitos on this hike and it wasn’t pleasant when the whole entire time you are smacking yourself trying to prevent bites. We went to battle with mosquitos and we made it out barely alive! We took a nap before, so 1.5 hours in, we didn’t make it to the lake which I heard was the highlight of this hike. We did come across beautiful meadows, tall pine trees, and creeks. Overall, scenic and easy. Totally doable for not so athletic individuals but know it is almost 6 miles long so bring snacks to re-energize yourselves and plenty of water.
After our hike we went back to our campsite, cooked dinner, and got ready for bed. For tomorrow is another day in another park.
My boyfriend and I hustled at 5 am to eat and break our campsite apart by 6 am. We headed out for Grand Teton, another beauty of a national park. As we headed our way there, we noticed the beauty of the lakes and rivers, snow kissed mountains, and a rainbow. It was absolutely beautiful to watch the sunrise as we drove through the scenic routes from Yellowstone to Grand Teton. The most wonderful thing to see was the enormous body of water known as Jackson Lake. I have to say, this lake brought calm serene thoughts as you viewed it upon passing. Picture yourself diving head first into crystal clear lakes, being shocked by refreshing cold temperatures, and swimming with groups of freshwater fishes. That’s what I imagined — a little bit of Little Mermaid but minus the ocean creatures.
We didn’t have a campsite yet at Grand Teton, like my boyfriend always says, “We’re winging it.” At first you want to shriek in terror knowing that it was July 4th Weekend and the parks were going to be full, but when we arrived to Colter Bay Campgrounds it was around 7:30 am and about 5 cars in front of us. The park rangers allowed us in at 8 am and we stayed at Loop E and our campsite was a small walk away from Jackson Lake. We were ecstatic to hear that. We arrived to our campsite and I would say this campsite is a 5 out of 5 for the size of the campsite was huge, didn’t feel claustrophobic, personal and large bear proof storage bin to fit our large cooler, and again, moments away from Jackson Lake. I also would like to say, the morning park ranger was absolutely charming, inviting, and informative, I wish I got her name.
We went to the visitor center and my boyfriend asked for a hike that would have us see many animals, she directed us to the Cascade Canyons. There were two ways to get there, $15 on a ferry ride from Jenny Lake to get to the canyons or if you want to save yourself $15 per person and start from Leigh Lake or String Lake (plus it is an additional 4 mile roundtrip hike). My boyfriend chose the free route, which was about 12 mile roundtrip and somewhat strenuous hike. It isn’t hard, but if you have bad knees like me, going downhill was painful. I would have to say it extended the hike longer due to the many stops I had to make to ease my knees of the pain it got from going downhill on a steep incline. Bring plenty of water and food. Again, you will need mosquito repellent, they’re such pests! During this hike, Pikas were seen and they weren’t like Pikachus, but still cute. They looked like a cross between a ferret and a beaver or larger guinea pigs. Just thinking about them makes this writer squeal with excitement. The ranger told us we would see a lot of animals but unfortunately we didn’t, possibly due to our late start, we started around 12 pm for we got lost coming to String Lake Trailhead. The scenery was beautiful and we should’ve stopped somewhere along Casecade Canyon, but we were determined to see the Junction before we head back. Tip #2: consider stopping somewhere in the cascade mountains for the junction isn’t as beautiful. Unless you were planning on going to Lake Solitude, there really isn’t a point to go to the junction unless you’re one of those types who has to finish everything. My boyfriend and I agreed we should’ve turned back when we saw the beautiful mountains and the waterfalls and would’ve saved my knees from aching.
We returned back from our camping trip and headed to Jackson Lake. After a 12 mile hike, we needed some cooling waters to heal our sores and aches. There was a sense of hesitation on my part when thinking of entering the water for the waves were rough and the water was icy cold as my toes entered the waters. The waters were surrounded by rocks and pebbles rather than the usual sand that one would imagine. My boyfriend went in first, then he urged me to go in. He kept telling me to dunk my head. Ok… 1, 2, 3… dunk! Oh my, so refreshing, what I needed after a strenuous hike. All the dirt on my skin, washed away. There is so much peace and happiness that one could find here. It was perfect.
After, we ate dinner of my newly famous baby back ribs. Sing the song, “Cindy’s baby back ribs, barbeque sauce, Cindy’s baby back ribs.” Yes, it is just like Chili’s tune, but personalized. Along with macaroni and cheese and kale salad, we had a fantastic dinner. We relaxed a bit an then went to sleep early for tomorrow was another early day.
On July 4th, we started our day at 4:30 am. We packed our car the night before but had to break our tent down. We left bright and early and left at 5 am. My boyfriend took the first shift driving while I was sleeping in the passenger seat, then I felt the car jerk at a stop. This animal lover got a surprise, a sea of Bison blocking our way en route to leave the park. We entered Bison heaven. My heart was full of love for these majestic beasts. My trip is complete, the final course was a success.