We'll skip the three day car ride (that we crammed into two, thanks to our diehard little travelers!!) and fast forward straight to Wyoming. Let's begin by saying that if you are coming from anywhere east, "you can't get there from here" is Yellowstone's theme song. The shortest distance between two points belongs only to the birds. But the winding way is beautiful, if a little steep, and SO worth its reward. It even offered a secluded picnic table by a mountain stream for our peanut butter dinner.
Moving right along, here we are at Yellowstone. We're taking the southeast entrance straight up into the snowcaps. Remember to swallow so your ears don't hurt. While we're climbing, you should know that before our visit is over, you will feel like you've been to several completely different planets. When you come to the first visitor center, be sure your kids get their Jr. Ranger packet so they can earn their patch by doing the activities as they go through the park. We LOVE those park rangers for taking care of the kiddoes!
The first stop is the Lake Yellowstone area. Huge and beautiful, with smaller, placid lakes adjoining it. Moving clockwise to the geyser area, Old Faithful is the big draw. But there are many others, and as we waited for OF, "The Plume" started gushing RIGHT behind us. Very fun! (But hold your nose.) Next we went to the colorful prismatic hot springs area. I had never heard of this until we started planning our trip. It is stunning! Then up to the northwest corner to Mammoth Hot Springs, with its cascading mineral formations. (Watch out, that's an elk at the trail entrance. Just ask her to pose for a photo, and then step aside.) And quickly over to the east, you'll reach the waterfalls and Grand Canyon of Yellowstone area. Don't miss Artist's Point, and the stairway down into the canyon to view the falls. Breathtaking! (On several levels. The benches on the landings are there for a reason--use them!)
It's taken a couple of days to see all of this, and we could have done more! But now it's evening, and we'll want to make the descent down and out of the park before dark. Instead of groaning when you come to a traffic jam, get out the camera. This is when the wildlife comes out for dinner. Don't worry, we won't be getting out of the car (unlike some of the crazy people we saw). We saw the elk earlier, but now it's the moose, the bison--LOTS of bison ("oh give me a home where the buffalo roam..."), and the yellow bellied marmot. (Uh huh, that's right. Just consult the wildlife guide Ben bought with his vacation money.) There's Chip--or is it Dale? Watch out!! That's a grizzly bear!
Wish you had your binoculars? You can get a closer look at everything here.
Well, I know how exhausted you must be. The next leg of our journey will take us back to South Dakota. Stay tuned. But first, take a moment to honor our Jr. Rangers. Thank you, Mr. Ranger, sir!