We returned on June 19 and I am still missing the majestic beauty of Wyoming!!! I spent a lot of time planning this trip and it all paid off!!! We even had great weather, sunny and high 60s/70s so most of what I packed for cold weather and rain was not even needed...although I am glad I took the advice of a TA friend and packed a fleece jacket.
So here is my trip report...We arrived in Jackson which is a great way to start a vacation with the gorgeous view of the Tetons. We stopped for lunch at the Jackson Lake Resort and ate in the Mural Room. This is a gorgeous location with floor to ceiling windows and the most amazing view from the dining area. The lodge was a lot bigger than I expected and we enjoyed the outdoor space for the view as well. In fact we enjoyed this lodge location so much we ate lunch here again at the end of our vacation as we traveled to Teton Village. The food and view was that great!!!
Our first 2 nights were at the Old Faithful Inn and I am so GLAD I booked this historic beauty! (Initially I booked the Snow Lodge but then switched.) We had a top floor room in the modern section and the room and bathroom was much larger than I thought it would be and very clean. It had 2 queen beds and I loved that there was NO TV. The Inn itself is very interesting and we had reservations in the dining room for both nights. I had a chicken sandwich on a pretzel roll that was very good although my DH thought the food at Yellowstone was just average.
Staying 2 nights at Old Faithful Inn was perfect we enjoyed watching OF erupt 5 different times from different perspectives. The first time was from the Snow Lodge porch while eating icecream, another time up at Observation Point (highly recommend this hike) and my favorite time was during the ranger led hike ...that eruption and perspective was the most impressive. The ranger led hike to learn about geysers is a MUST DO...the ranger was very enthusiastic and informative and I know my teenage son learned a lot and enjoyed it too, as did my DH. During our stay here we also enjoyed visiting the Grand Prizmatic area. We did not see a lot of wildlife in the OF area although we did see a coyote trot by from a distance.
We then stayed 2 nights in the Canyon area at Dunraven lodge. Again my request for a top floor room with view was honored and the room was spacious and clean although it only had 2 double beds but on the second night we requested an air mattress bed and they set it up for us so that was nice for our son. This lodge is so much different from Old Faithful Inn, it took a bit to get used to it...i.e. the location was so less populated and because it was more modern it lacked the great historical ambience but the location was great for exploring the Canyon area which is why I chose it. We spent quite a bit of time hiking at the Canyon area and it was gorgeous!!! We started with Artist's Point in the morning which was a great hike and then hit Uncle Tom's trail to take us to the base of the waterfall which was 300+ steps down. VERY COOL and I took TONS of photos just like in the OF area. Around every bend was a different perspective of the canyon and the colors were very pretty. We had been to the real Grand Canyon a few years ago so it was funny to us that they named this the GC of Yellowstone but it was still very pretty. Inspiration Point is a must see, we finished with that viewpoint and it was a perfect day. Dining at the Canyon area was okay and I especially liked all of the photography on the walls which someone told us was taken by one of the Yellowstone maintenance men. It was fun to talk to some of the waiters and hear their stories about working at Yellowstone. I think working there has to be a great experience in terms of meeting new people, exploring the park, etc. etc. Wish I had done it when I was single.
The Canyon area was a great location to visit other parts of the park and we stopped at the Mammoth area to walk the boardwalks, ate lunch at Roosevelt, visited Hayden and Lamar Valley, Fishing Bridge area, etc. We saw bison, elk, a black bear, coyotes and even a grizzly bear near the Sylvan Lake area. I got some great pics of this momma bear from our car as she was roaming a wooded cliff above the road. (We had been excited about the small black bear who was deep in some bushes and not real visible but this grizzly bear was an unexpected treat and we were thrilled to have been so lucky to see her.)
We also did a ranger led hike in the Mud Volcano area which was really good too. I totally recommend ranger led hikes as these rangers are really passionate about the park and share great information as well as tell interesting stories. This ranger told a story about how a bison got mired in a mud pot and how a ranger tried to get her out with no success. He called for assistance and THREE rangers could not get the bison out. Their plan was to return the next morning with horses to remove the bison but when they arrived that morning...a grizzly bear had drug the carcass into the woods. The point of the story was how strong one grizzly is compared to THREE men. So make sure you attend at least one ranger led hike...it is so worth it. All of the hikes are listed in the newsletter and organized by area of the park. It would have been interesting to do one in the Mammoth area too.
After 4 nights in Yellowstone, my city boy DH was glad to get back to "civilization", we headed to Teton Village which is about 6 miles from Moose Junction in the Tetons. We stayed at the Teton Mountain Lodge which is a ski village and it was a luxurious way to end our vacation i.e. rooftop jacuzzi, massages and sunning ourselves at the pool. We took the tram up 10,000 feet and enjoyed watching paragliders each morning.
On our last day as we headed to the airport we finally saw...(first time ever...drum roll....) two MOOSE!!! I took some great pics of them too. It was great to have seen them on our last day and I was sad to see the majestic Tetons fade in the distance as our plane headed back to the East Coast.
If anyone has questions, just PM me. This was an incredible trip and we really saw a lot of the park and enjoyed an unforgettable family vacation!!!