Recently I went with my family on vacation to Wyoming, mainly to see Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. We flew in to Jackson Hole, and as soon as we landed I fell in love with the beauty of the place. Coming off of the airplane, we walked down stairs and turning around we had an amazing view of the mountains, which was absolutely breathtaking and left me jaw dropped
We stayed in the ski resort area called Teton Village, which is right at the bottom of Rendevous Mountain and the south entrance to Grand Teton National Park. Driving there we were surrounded by fields filled with wildflowers with blue-ish purple snow capped mountains dominating the background. The scenery was literally everything I’d imagined the “West” to be. Everything there felt so “untouched”, and still so wild and wonderful. The town of Jackson is really cute with little restaurants and shops and mountaineering outfitters.
Our first full day there we got an early start and entered Grand Teton National Park, eating an amazing breakfast at Jenny Lake Lodge. That breakfast was the breakfast of dreams; I definitely reccomend it to everyone exploring that area. Next we took a boat across Jenny Lake, which, nestled at the bottom of the mountains, has crystal clear cold water. On the other side of the lake we did some hiking, starting with the hike to Hidden Falls, a big waterfall full of melted mountain snow. We next hiked to Inspiration Point, although we actually missed the start of the trail and ended up walking an extra three miles around Jenny Lake before even starting the long, uphill incline. Although the hike was a little difficult (it was labeled as moderate-strenuous), the views were incredible. After our long hiking day, we drove around the park, heading up to Jackson Lake, and making a stop at Jackson Lake Lodge to take in the view before heading back to Jackson for dinner.
Day two was our Yellowstone day! But first we got a little side tracked after receiving info from a local on where to see wildlife in the Tetons. We headed out to Mormon Row and Antelope Loop and ended up seeing a mama moose and her baby crossing the road! The first thing we visited in Yellowstone was the famous Old Faithful Geyser. It was cool in that it’s such a reliable and active geyser, but at the same time, there were so many people there that the environment was unenjoyable. Next we saw various hot springs with the bluest of blue water, and the Grand Prismatic Spring, which is known for it’s rainbow colored steaming waters. That was actually one of my favorite things there because I’ve never in my life seen anything that unique. We made a stop at Gibbon Falls before visiting Mammoth Hot Springs, which have these cool terraces with steaming water flowing down over them. After that, we saw Tower Falls and then the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, which was just incredible. The views were breathtaking, especially from Artist’s Point. Steep peachy pink cliffs surround a huge waterfall with a deep blue river down below. We finished our day in Yellowstone in Hayden Valley, where we encountered herds of buffalo grazing as the sun set. It’s like something you picture from a history textbook or something. I must say all in all Yellowstone is really cool. It has so many very unique geological features dotted all over the place, and is also just huge. There’s so much open space, dense forests, clear rivers, and mountains. Additionally you’re certain to encounter wildlife there. We saw elk, deer, bison, and even a baby bear.
Day three we took the tram from the bottom of Teton Village up to the top of Rendevous Mountain, at an elevation of over 10,000 ft.! The ski slopes up there looked terrifyingly steep, and the snow was still unmelted. I even had to wear a jacket up there! We saw amazing views of the mountain range, and walked around some trails, seeing a cute little marmot in the process. My brother even set up his Eno hammock to chill for awhile, although he set it up directly in the middle of the path and a park ranger gave him a strange look as he walked past. It was purely breathtaking up there!
The next morning I went to a health clinic in Jackson to get some antibiotics for an ear infection I’d come down with. It started off as a cold, but I guess high altitudes aren’t the best for ear-pressure kind of things. That afternoon and the whole next day we did a whole bunch of outdoor activities, starting with whitewater rafting down the Snake River. The Snake River is a fast moving, gorgeous mountain river with clear, cold water. Although the rapids were only Class 3, it was still so much fun, and my first time whitewater rafting too! Our guide was really chill; he even pointed out a bald eagle in a tree drying it’s wings out. Our next activity was horseback riding at Mill Iron Ranch. The ranch has been owned by a family for generations, and our trail guide, one of the owners, was super knowledgeable about the mountains and the area in general. This trail ride was rated the best in the country, and I can tell why. It’s a steep vertical ride up the mountain, and then you ride along top of the mountain ridge. Gorgeous views of the mountains, the valleys, the wildflowers are all included. And the horses are great. I loved my horse Stormy. He was so hilarious. He liked to go speedy quick uphill, but refused to move at all downhill, so it was pretty entertaining watching the guide try and get him to hurry up. Lastly, we went kayaking on Jenny Lake’s clear blue waters with the stunning mountains as the backdrop. They didn’t have single kayaks unfortunately, so my sister and I rented a double to share and kayaked all the way to the other side of the lake where there were no people in sight. We beached our boat on a big rock and layed out to tan for a little while before kayaking back. The setting is a kayakers paradise, well, if you like flat water kayaking. My siblings and I just love kayaking in general, so we couldn’t leave Wyoming without kayaking at least some of it’s stunning waters.
Our last day in Wyoming we decided to do some more hiking. We hiked the trail to Taggart Lake, which, although a pretty easy hike, had incredible mountain views and another picturesque lake. My sister and I waded in the water a bit, climbing on rocks and such, before we decided to hike to another lake in the area. However, this trail ended up being a pretty strenuous uphill endeavor, and after getting confused, we never made it to the lake, although we did hike an extra 4 miles.
All in all, Wyoming was amazing! It’s pretty much what I always envisioned the “West” being. I loved being completely surrounded by nature, seeing unique wildlife in real life, and I also now really appreciate the fact that America saves these treasures as national parks. I understand why we call it “America the beautiful”, and why we sing about “purple mountains’ majesty above the fruited plain”. I hope to be back to Wyoming soon, but now I have an itch to explore all of America’s other national parks!