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Summer Dreaming: Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP’s

In the summer of 2006 Kirk and I planned a trip to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Ford was very excited about going and was quite the good sport. This was at the time the longest driving trip we had taken together.

We left late that day and took our time driving out to Montana on I-90 and spent the first night in Missoula. In the morning I had orders to ship and the postal clerk working there had lived just down the road from us in Washington. Small world, no?

The next morning we headed farther east on I-90 to Bozeman and then hooked towards the entrance of the park to Mammoth Hot Springs:

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In our trip we came in at the top of the map, worked down the left side and then on our way out came up the right:

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We spent the night in the cabins there. The whole day it had howled hard, hailing dime and nickel sized chunks as we drove. It was some of the heaviest rain I have seen in my life. That night though it cleared. We had time as the sun was setting to walk around a number of the features in the area, then went out to dinner at the hotel’s dining room where the bartender had quite the pouring arm…..

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We woke up to this view, as the sun rose. As fast as we could,  we packed up and headed out to experience the day. Mammoth is far below.

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Being early we saw almost no one and had a quiet drive up into the Caldera, through the Hoodoos. As we came up into the Caldera and were taking a photo session, a wolf walked by us. That was and is still the neatest wildlife sighting ever for me!

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Not long after was Nymph Lake:

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We stopped at a number of the mud pots and geysers and worked our way towards Old Faithful, going through the Norris area.

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We also visited many spots in the Madison area as well.

We got to Old Faithful in time for it to explode. The thing we agreed on was how shop worn this side of the park was. A number of the pots were drying up, geysers having slowed down. While we looked and walked – it was a let down from how quiet Mammoth was. We left not long after that and headed down towards the Tetons.

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Ford at the paved path to Old Faithful:

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The drive down was pretty and we crossed the Continental Divide a number of times. It was the first time for me to drive over it so I was dorky-happy.

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I am out of order on these photos, taken alongside Yellowstone Lake. These were taken on a different day I think.

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Ford standing between the lake and a pool, with a pot next to him, along the edge of the lake:

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A river whose name I don’t remember. The sun was starting to get low in the sky…..

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Yes, more signs to be stood by…..

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We drove down from Old Faithful to the South Entrance of the park and onto the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Parkway (which runs a few miles between Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons). We based our stay at Flagg Ranch, which is just off the Parkway. Flagg Ranch is definitely a quiet place to stay and well located for either park. I got a good deal that year.

In the morning we drove South on the main road and enjoyed the views of The Tetons. Even if all one did was scenic drives in The Tetons…well, you would have one great vacation! The roads have lots of pull offs as well in every great spot for photos.

The first views of The Tetons as you drive South along Jackson Lake:

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The Tetons:

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We drove in along The Teton Park Road and did the one way Jenny Lake Scenic Road. We parked at Jenny Lake and went exploring.

Kirk and Ford at Jenny Lake:

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We took the boat ride across the lake to Cascade Canyon Trailhead – the low notch across the way:

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We hiked up to the waterfall (Hidden Point?), backtracked back down to the dock then took the trail around Jenny Lake’s backside. There is a full loop as well, but the fun is taking the ferry! The trail walks through a old burn which gives great views.

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The trail leaves the lake and crosses over the creek from String Lake not long after on a bridge, then circles around Jenny. (Those with lots of time can also make a bigger loop and see more lakes!) See here for lots of printable PDF maps of hikes.

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The trail along Jenny Lake after you cross the creek parralles the one way scenic drive we had done earlier, still it was quite pretty.

Later in our trip we headed up to Signal Mountain which you can drive to the top of and or walk as well. The views into Jackson Hole are gorgeous! Ford with his back to Jackson Hole, and the Tetons to the far left, as they run into Jackson:

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Balsam Root I think? The summit was covered in it.

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Another shot of The Tetons, from Signal Mountain:

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We drove into Jackson Hole, WY one day as well and played tourists. There is very much a line between the newer and tonier section and the old western part of Jackson though.

I had not realized just how close in Jackson is to the Teton park! The small airport is only miles away from the park. Oh to be rich 😉

Coming back from Jackson we took the non-park highway back and saw a differnt side, along the Snake River. It was quiet and pretty as the sun dipped low.

We spent another day up in Yellowstone, visiting the areas around Yellowstone Lake (see above photos) and more.

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On our last day we headed back North to Yellowstone. We left early in the morning to see what we could. How can you pass up this sign at the South Entrance? Hehheh

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Happy Bison:

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Dinner?

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On our way out we visisted the Canyon area:

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Ford sitting happy at an overlook.

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A last siting as we drove along:

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As we drove (and visited more sites along the way) we got talking. We took the far road (where we saw few people! This is the side of the park for being alone!) as it wound through hills with nearly no trees left. That part of the park was gorgeous – between Canyon and Mammoth. As we reached Mammoth we decided – it was 11 am, could we do the drive home? So we hit the road, hit I-90 and around midnight we reached home in Western Washington. Oh Montana, how we love your generous speed limits. This was the trip though where we got passed by a orange Lambourghini like we were standing still 😛

~Sarah

One thought on “Summer Dreaming: Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP’s

  1. Thanks for this post – we’re getting ready to schedule our summer vacation (taking 3 & 5-year-old) and Yellowstone is one of the ideas. It looks beautiful!

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