Cross Country Drive, Day 3
July 14, 2020
Yellowstone + Teton Tuesday
Starting Location: Bozeman, Montana (Depart 08:30AM)
Ending Location: Riverton, Wyoming (Arrive 09:30PM)
Driving Time: It was 2 hours from our Air BnB to Grand Prismatic springs, then 2 hours to Grand Teton National Park, ~1 hour around the scenic drive, then 2.5 hours to our home for the night. We did a LOT of stopping today, so not AS much time driving today, as shown below by miles driven.
Driving Miles: 350 miles!
Today, we visited the first National Park and soaked in SO MANY beautiful views. Everywhere we drove from Montana to Wyoming, we were again struck with awe!
This post will have less words and not my BEST pictures because I haven’t gotten mine off the GoPro or camera yet…… AND it’s 10:30PM and we are just “settling in” for the night haha.
And so begins our North American safari…
Welcome to the “Serengeti of North America” in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park with one of the highest concentrations of wildlife!
Although Abby and I didn’t go to the Serengeti while in Tanzania together, we DID go on safari. And we DID wear these matching T-shirts:
It was only natural for us to break out the matching t-shirts for our North American safari today!
Yellowstone is nearly the size of Connecticut and it has never been mined or logged, the rivers have never been dammed and you can feel it: a wildness that moves like the low clouds over the ridges.
Source: Condé Nast Traveler
To be honest from the start (straight shooter, no chaser here): Yellowstone National Park felt a lot like an amusement park. While entering the park, we tuned into 1610 AM on the radio and even THAT felt like the preparation while waiting on a long rollercoaster line. Might as well have said “Keep your hands and feet inside of the vehicle at all times.” AND we listened to “We Like to Party” by the Vengaboys on the way out of the park (do you ALSO get an image of an old man in thick rimmed glasses dancing outside Six Flags? Me too!!).
We ended up chatting with a ranger who has been working at Yellowstone for eight years. He said this season has been insanely busy and it’s posed some challenges with people being rude to others and the land. We were met with a lot of stopping and waiting in the car. The ranger said a lot of people who wouldn’t usually travel to Yellowstone were at the park. I can imagine it’s impacted the land. I know in Oregon and Washington, there have been many issues with people disobeying the “Leave No Trace” principles. If you need a refresher, click HERE!!
There were definitely a lot of crowds and we got some interesting narratives while waiting for Old Faithful geyser to erupt. “Why do we have to wait for the geyser?? It’s going to take foreeeeveeerr.” AND during the eruption. People were counting down like it was a timed event. “The ranger said 1:47PM, so we have another 1 minute and 30 seconds…” or “We are wasting a lot of time here.” Of my favorite (ahem, LEAST favorite) exchange between father and daughter:
(DURING Old Faithful eruption)
Daughter: “This is so BORING…”
Father: “Why you gotta say that while I’m recording? Now I can’t post the video.”
*sighhhhh* Despite the obnoxious tendencies of other humans, the eruption was pretty awesome to watch. I didn’t expect it to blast so high! I am very glad to check this off the good ol’ bucket list!
Afterwards, it was a mad dash to the cars. It felt like leaving a show where everyone leaves as the encore begins to escape the parking lot without a lot of lines. We stayed until the end of the eruption and were part of the crowd LEAVING Old Faithful. ALSO the area surrounding it was highly commercialized.
I will say that a lot more people were wearing masks today. Yesterday, Abby and I didn’t feel that was being followed too closely. I also REALLY enjoyed the Grand Prismatic Springs. There was a one-way path around them & it’s wheelchair accessible! The colors were awesome because they’re teal and turquoise. AMAZING!
Well, Yellowstone is awesome because it’s the first National Park. I am SURE we didn’t get the full flavor of the park (PLEASE share if you had a different experience), PLUS the park is so busy right now!
GRAND TETON NP
There is not enough words to describe the beauty of this park. Honestly. It surpassed Yellowstone in every level. It was NOT crowded. We saw unbelievable wildlife. The views were like nothing I’ve seen. Glaciers, rocks, wildflowers, lakes. Ughhhhh. It was so much of everything. I can’t wait to go through my camera photos, but for now, here’s some highlights!
I will be writing more about Grand Teton later! We entered the park from the North (continuing on from the Yellowstone South exit) and did the scenic drive loop (42 miles, 150% worth it). We ended up spending time with buffalo, a moose, and some antelopes. It was unreal.
In essence… Grand Teton is a park I will go back to again. Yellowstone was PERFECT for bucket list, once in a lifetime experiences. completely unreal day overall.
MUSIC! Today, we listened to the Spotify “African Heat” playlist for our safari experience. Mid-day, Abby shared more of her love for Goo Goo Dolls. In the evening, things REALLY turnt up as we drove from Dubois to Riverton. We were both feeling pretty tired at this time, so Abby broke out her old school iPod. We started with Akon, then tried a little Kings of Leon until we realized what we REALLY needed was *NSYNC. To our pleasant, hilarious (delirious) surprise, (Jewish) Abby’s iPod decided to play the Christmas album. Driving through a Wyoming sunset with “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” playing gave me a permagrin and definitely carried us home.
Oh and we listened to “The Greatest Showman” once today. Moana and my Disney / singalong playlist made its appearance as well. Fun fun.
WILDLIFE! We have seen many wonderful living animals, but also have seen the circle of life in action. I have now seen 4 dead deer on the side of the road (Abby – none lol) and my windshield is the cemetery for an uncountable number of bugs. So… daily bug kill count is… many. Many, many. RIP bugs.
Okay okay. Let’s be real now. The HIGHLIGHT of our entertainment for the day though was watching nature… today, we saw
MOOSE an ELK (thank you, Erin, for helping clarify! We didn’t have a safari guide in our American safari…) IN GRAND TETON!! I’ve never seen moose an elk and it was literally on the side of the road. A park ranger was present to help keep him safe (he said he’s probably about 5 years old but it’s hard to tell without him standing up) & direct people where to park/stand and keep the road clear. I could have stared at this beautiful animal forever. Mother Nature is the superior entertainment, every time.
Today we ate a bigger breakfast at the room! GUESS what we had for lunch?! Yup, PB&J with carrots, string cheese, apples, and Sea Squishies from Fred Meyer. AND goldfish. Yum.
Our dinner was takeout from The Lone Buffalo Steakhouse, which was one of the only places open during our time in the 968-person town of Dubois. Delicious food, but there was a sign in the restaurant saying all waiting staff had to wear masks and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM was wearing it around their chin. I don’t think they saw Cuomo’s demonstration of mask vs. chin strap…
Air BnB in Riverton, Wyoming. Uhhhh… I mean, it’s a place to sleep! Let’s just say it smells like Axe body spray and I saged the place with a bag of popcorn to try to ease the smell. Questionable, yet functional. I wonder who will get top and bottom bunk?! Haha… >.<
Side note: If you are reading this post after midnight in Wyoming time, you are reading a product of Abby’s proofreading skills. This was not void of error. Must be the elevation or something. Hahah not. I’m delirious. Goodnight.
What is your favorite (or weirdest) staple/local food you’ve had from a country or state?
KRISTEN: Turtle soup in New Orleans was probably the weirdest… I just can’t believe it’s really turtle meat! My favorite staple is ugali in Tanzania because of the way you eat it annnnd it’s my favorite place.
ABBY: Favorite is falafel at any roadside stand in Israel with roasted eggplant and chips (aka fries) in the pita.
Thursday, July 16, 2020 @ 1:15 PM
Eek! So sad Yellowstone has turned into an amusement park. But glad you checked off and loved seeing the Tetons! Looks like you saw an Elk in the photo! Did you see/get a pic of the moose? Not sure what my weirdest thing I’ve had but alligator on a stick from the MN state fair comes to mind haha!
Wednesday, February 10, 2021 @ 11:34 PM
Oh gosh… 100% that’s an elk in the photo and I edited it… haha!! Yellowstone I imagine requires a little more diving into the backcountry to find the solitude. We happened to hit all the touristy parts. Guess I’ll have to go back some day! I 100% want to return to the Tetons though… WOWWWW!! Backpacking / climbing trip in the future… perhaps?
Wednesday, July 15, 2020 @ 11:56 AM
The first thing that came to mind for me was eating a Lobster roll in Maine! They’re so delicious & It’s such a New England answer so it seems appropriate since you’re going to be a New Englander. <3
Wednesday, July 15, 2020 @ 9:35 PM
OH my gosh, I can’t wait to go to Maine for a lobstahhh roll… ayuh?? 🙂
Linda F Mulhall
Wednesday, July 15, 2020 @ 8:03 AM
Love Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. Hard to believe those Grand teton mountains, isn’t it? Yellowstone…Wow! Met a full size bison as we drove back to our hotel one evening. The herd was crossing the road to their night time pasture. Had traffic at a dead stop. We were creeping along when this gigantic bull bison stepped up onto the road in front of our very large Ford F250 truck and walked across the front of it. We were in awe! Then it turned and walked down the side of the truck right past my passenger window! We were eye to eye and it was a magical moment! There is nothing to compare these prehistoric beasts to normal life! I knew in that moment that if he chose to attack our truck he could have taken it apart in a heartbeat. Eye to eye! God bless them. Loved it that the new crop of calves were all red too. We also had a private viewing of Old Faithful because we were sitting there coffee and donut in hand very early in the morning with what we thought would be another half hour wait when she blew! Wonderfully special. Did you notice how all the vents around the valley were starting to steam a few minutes before she blew? Kind of expected a dinosaur or two to step out of the trees.
Wednesday, July 15, 2020 @ 8:41 AM
Wow….. Linda! What an unbelievable story. It sounds like you had a MUCH more intimate experience with Yellowstone than we did. I cannot believe the bull bison! We didn’t encounter any wildlife in Yellowstone, possibly due to the crowds and our short time in the park. The whole ecosystem surrounding Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons was other worldly. The Grand Tetons are SO prominent. I’ll have to go back to this area some day 🙂