It’s been about two weeks since we got back from our trip, and I still have a few things to share about our trip. The first being that I can’t believe it was already two weeks ago (three, depending on how you count it). But this will be the last exclusively-Yellowstone post—I promise.
This was not my first time visiting Yellowstone (I was there four years ago). But this was Jonathan’s first time going west of Minnesota, and I was so excited to show him the west. (Never mind that he did ALL the driving.) I knew he would love it.
We stayed in a different place almost every night, so we did quite a bit of packing and unpacking, but it ended up being a great way to see a lot of different places we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Most nights we stayed in KOA campgrounds (except for Jackson, where we paid $130 for a Motel 6!), but rather than cart along a tent that we’d have to put up and take down every day, we paid extra and stayed in the kabins (their spelling, not mine).
Day 1: Minneapolis, MN to Rapid City, SD
Why is it that hours in the car are not tedious at the beginning of a trip? We were so excited to finally be on vacation.
Day 2: Rapid City, SD to Cody, WY
First thing in the morning, we headed to Mt. Rushmore. Maybe it’s un-American to say so, but that was my second visit and I still didn’t think it was too exciting. It’s definitely worth a visit (and I find the history of it all pretty interesting), but don’t go just for Mt. Rushmore. Make it a side-stop.
After Mt. Rushmore, we drove through the Black Hills and took Hwy 16 almost the whole way to Cody, Wyoming. It was definitely the scenic route. And while we were on Hwy 16 in Wyoming, we drove through this:
The Ten Sleeps Canyon. Easily one of the prettiest things I’ve ever seen in my life. If you’re ever in the area, make sure you see it.
Day 3: Cody, WY to Jackson, WY
Our first day in Yellowstone! This was the day we saw Yellowstone Lake, the West Thumb Geyser Basin, and the Grand Tetons. Also the only day it rained, but it didn’t last long.
Jackson was our favorite city. If I had millions of dollars, I would live there, in the shadow of the Tetons. So pretty.
Day 4: Jackson, WY to West Yellowstone, MT
More time in the Tetons. We drove through Yellowstone, but we didn’t really stop to see any sights.
Day 5: West Yellowstone, MT (Again)
We stayed at this KOA for two nights, so we spent this day going back and seeing the Yellowstone sights we hadn’t stopped at the day before: Grand Prismatic Springs (my favorite volcanic feature in the park), numerous waterfalls, Old Faithful, Grand Geyser (definitely worth waiting for), and Morning Glory Pool.
This day was also our third anniversary. I’m still pretty glad I married this guy.
Day 6: West Yellowstone, MT to Livingston, MT
This was a red-letter day for me. I FINALLY saw a bear in the wild. It’s something I’d wanted to do my whole life, but after 25 years and time in northern Michigan and Minnesota, a stay in the mountains in West Virginia, and a previous trip to Yellowstone, I still hadn’t seen one. We pulled off the road at a scenic overlook to take a picture, and a few other people there pointed out this lovely grizzly:
We also saw the Obsidian Cliff, a few waterfalls, and Mammoth Hot Springs.
The KOA we stayed at in Livingstone was gorgeous (and had probably the nicest bathrooms I’ve ever seen in a campground), but with the drought, we weren’t able to have a campfire. And the bugs were terrible, but I guess that’s to be expected when you’re right on the Yellowstone River.
Day 7: Livingston, MT to Cody, WY
Our last day in Yellowstone. We saw a few other favorites this day: Tower Falls, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Hayden Valley, and TWO more bears. As if one wasn’t enough!
Day 8: Cody, WY to Fargo, ND
We were supposed to get to Minneapolis this day, but when you wake up to a flat tire and leave several hours later than planned, things change. So we stayed in Fargo.
Day 9: Fargo, ND to Minneapolis, MN
We made it home by early afternoon, unpacked, washed clothes, and prepared for going back to the real world. It was not a fun transition. I’d rather be in the mountains.
Oh, and while we were unpacking, we discovered this very good reason to not store your EZ Cheese in the same bag as your binoculars: