Back in December, we made plans with my family to go on a road trip to Yellowstone this summer. We had some concern that the pandemic would cancel our plans. This was actually the 4th trip that my family has planned to Yellowstone – the first three were canceled, so it seemed possible that this 4th attempt would also be foiled. Thankfully, we were able to make it and what a trip it was!
Our mornings were early, our days were long, but each day was worth the effort! The boys love nature and trails, so add geothermal sites and it was the perfect park of the kiddos to explore. I loved walking the geyser basins in the cool of the morning with the steam pouring out of the springs and geysers. The sight of steam billowing over the landscape was awe-inspiring and never got old! We also really enjoyed visiting Yellowstone Falls and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. God’s creation is beautiful and powerful! We spotted animals like elk and bison throughout the park. We never saw a bear, but multiple times we were very close and had just missed sightings moments before. Jeremy was praying we would see a bear. I was praying that we wouldn’t. I know the boys were bummed that we had no bear sightings, but I was thankful. Bears that aren’t in a zoo setting scare me. Even the bison and elk caused my adrenaline to rush. We were so close to these wild animals!
Yellowstone was the main event on this road trip, but we also saw a few other sights along the way. On our journey to Yellowstone, we stopped at Craters of the Moon National Park. We have visited lava fields and cinder cones in Bend, OR so we knew that this would be a fun stop for the family. We collected lava rocks, climbed a cinder cone, and admired the vast fields of cooled lava.
One of our days in Wyoming was spent driving through Grand Teton National Park. We drove one route through the park into Jackson, WY and then we drove back to our rental house through another park route. The views of the Tetons were stunning. The mountains views on this day of travel are some of my favorite from our whole trip. One of the mountains in the range is named Mt. Owen so that held special meaning to our Owen. We didn’t spend too much time in Jackson, WY. The city was neat, but busy. On our way home, we stopped by Jenny Lake (where we were 100 yards away from a grizzly bear that Wildlife Management was tracking) and Colter Bay.
Our last special stop on the way home was a visit to the Lewis & Clark Caverns. The tour was brief. Due to COVID-19, the tours are limited to one room in the cavern. We were shown the Paradise Room which is impressive. The only downside was we could see the pathways that lead deeper into the caves and we weren’t able to explore them. I guess that gives our family motivation to visit again in the future.
Signs of a pandemic were seen throughout our travels. Masks were worn indoors – regardless of what state we were in. Outdoors we wore masks when distancing wasn’t possible. Mornings were the calmest in the parks, so we were able to roam without too many people nearby. As more people entered the park midday, the more often we had to wear masks. On the cold chilly mornings, wearing a mask actually helped keep our faces warm. When the day heated up, I will say that wearing a mask became less ideal, but we did it. Hand sanitizer was found throughout the parks. We also had stock piles of sanitizer in our vehicles. Overall between masks, sanitizer, and being able to do laundry at our rental house, I felt like we were safe and cautious while traveling.
With all that has been canceled due to COVID-19, I am thankful that this long awaited family trip was able to happen as planned. We caravaned with my parents to and from the park and we met my sister and brother-in-law there. We haven’t had an all-family vacation since Graham arrived in the family. It was fun to show the boys a Vitzthum-style vacation. My dad always packs way too much food. Snacks abounded and dinner was always tasty with many options for everyone! The house we stayed at was the perfect set-up. My sister and her hubby had the upstairs with their own bedroom, bathroom, and loft for their little dog to hang out in during the day. My parents had the master on the main level. Our family had two downstairs bedrooms and a bathroom. The boys had bunk beds to sleep on which are a special treat!
Okay, I could ramble on about the great memories we made and the fun times we had! There is just so much to share after an adventure to Yellowstone. It was a beautiful trip. From geysers to thermal springs to mountains to lakes to rivers and waterfalls – there is something awe-inspiring around every corner! I’m so glad we got to explore this lovely part of God’s creation. God’s artistry through nature never ceases to astound me!
Here is an itinerary of our daily explorations and photos from our adventures:
Day 1: Old Faithful, Yellowstone Lake, Mud Volcano, Hayden Valley, Upper & Lower Yellowstone Falls. Day 2: Lower & Midway Geyser Basins, Artist Paint Pots, Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, Roosevelt Arch. Day 3: Grand Teton National Park, Jackson, WY, Jenny Lake, Colter Bay. Day 4: Biscuit Basin, Castle Geyser, West Thumb Geyser Basin, hike to Brink of the Lower Falls.