Going West: Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

Yellowstone, as the first national park, is easily one of the most famous. It is also home to a wide variety of animals and many geothermal features. You can drive from mountains to mudpots, geysers to lakes, all while spotting bison, elk, moose, and bears. 

We drove into the park and one of the first things we saw was a black bear sitting in the trees near the road, munching happily on a dead deer. Apparently, it was bear season. 

I was a very safe distance away (and exceedingly thankful for a good lens). Many people were closer then I was and the bear was getting anxious. Eventually a park ranger began shouting at people to move back. 

We drove further into the park and the animals were popping up, literally, on the side of the road. 

This lovely creature was nibbling on grass next to the road and caused a near traffic jam with people ogling out their car windows with cameras and cell phones. 

So. Many. Buffalo. 

At the first set of mudpots we stopped at we encountered this shaggy creature. He was sitting a few feet from the walkway and was carefully surveying you from his spot. 

This large guy meandered in from the trees, loudly huffing, and plopped down next to the murky water.

I am always amazed that even in hot, bubbling, sulfur waters, some plants can grow. Did I mention the sulfur? It reeks. 

Next, we hit up Artist's Falls, which is one of my favorite spots. 

Our matching hats. ;) 

The view is gorgeous and you can hear the water echoing through the canyon. 

After Artist's Falls we headed north to Mammoth Hot Springs. The northern loop is gorgeous scenic, but more barren. Also, with fewer cars, thank goodness. The Hot Springs were incredible. Layer upon layer of these white and bronze pools spread across the area. Also, sulfur. 

We stayed in West Yellowstone for the night. A quaint little town, West Yellowstone thrives only on tourism. There are various stores down the main street and one excellent little coffee shop on the corner. (We may have stopped there multiple times.) 

The next morning we drove to Old Faithful. 

Through herds of buffalo

I love the smoke from the geysers against the darker sky from the approaching storm. 

So many deep blues! 

When we got to Old Faithful, the geyser had just gone off so we sat around to see it go off again. While we were waiting, we heard that another geyser was about to go off. So we ran up to the hill to watch the Beehive explode for several minutes. 

Then we came back down, secured excellent seats and waited for Old Faithful to make a timely (or late) appearance. 

(I'm that annoying person that makes the driver stop so I can get pictures of flowers and mountains.) 

We drove into Grand Teton just as a storm was approaching. 

The next day we woke up just before dawn to watch the sunrise in Grand Teton. 

Sunrises in Grand Teton are always unforgettable. 

 Since it was still very early (before 7am) we drove down to Mormon Row and Schwaber Landing because it was proving to be a clear day and there was minimal traffic. 

Mormon Row

Then we decided to do a quick trip through Grand Teton. 

We drove quickly through Grand Teton because we were rapidly running out of time, but snapped many, many pictures. I wish we had been able to spend more time in Grand Teton because I love the mountains and these breathtaking views! 

And now, after looking through all of these pictures, I'm more then ready to fly back to Wyoming for an indefinite amount of time. ;) 

Going West: The Jackson Hole Edition

I first flew into Wyoming two years ago in October. It was cold, chilly, brisk, clear, and absolutely took my breath away. I fell in love with the mountains at first sight. When I left, I felt as though I left a part of myself in that rugged country.

Old barn on Mormon Row.

This time it was even more incredible. I was familiar with the landscape but that first view still took my breath away.

Sadly, our time in Jackson, Wyoming was short lived, but we did manage to see some sights, eat at some tasty restaurants, and enjoy the mountain air before we headed into the backcountry for a wedding and then into Yellowstone and Grand Teton to explore. 

Schwabacher Landing on the Snake River

Lupins

Eating in Jackson Hole, Wyoming: 

Oh goodness, Jackson has some excellent eating! We ate lunch at the always timely,

Silver Dollar Bar

and found it tasty as always. We got there early and scored a table in front of the open windows and the view was picturesquely framed by a window flower bed. The fresh air blew in as we ate and it was a genuinely tasty meal. (Note: Lunch prices were between $11-25 a plate but dinner prices are considerably more. The atmosphere is lovely though, but the service was a bit slow.)

We ate dinner at

Pizza Caldera

and the pizza was very tasty but the service was exceedingly slow. In face, we had to send my husband back to find our server who shamefacedly gave us our check (It took about 35 minutes for us to get our check

after

we had finished eating. Several other tables ordered, ate, and paid in the time it took for us to get our check.) There was a lengthy line and tables were in short order. I would recommend the pizza because it was very tasty, but go early to avoid a wait!

We did stop at the

Persephone Bakery

the last morning we were there for breakfast. I fell in LOVE. The decor is simple, white and very open. I had an excellent pot of tea, my friend had an amazing cup of coffee and yogurt. My husband experimented with a cup of Irish coffee and said it was the best he had ever had! (High praise coming from a man who felt quite out of his element with the decor.) ;)

Lastly, we stopped at

Cowboy Coffee

on our way to the airport. The serve cheap, tasty, hot beverages (sadly we didn't try the food.) It was a quick cup and much cheaper then Starbucks on the other side of town. 

What to do in Jackson Hole, Wyoming: 

Um, shop? There are so many awesome little shops in the town square. There are also maps that give you directions to the locally made shops which I highly recommend. Buy local, people!

If you have several hours, go visit the

National Museum of Wildlife Art

, conveniently located on the outskirts of town, heading towards the national parks. They have an amazing collection, friendly staff, and expansive gift shop. My favorite new artist is Carl Rungius and they have a whole room full of his works. This is a must see!

Of course, there are several history museums to visit, the iconic town square complete with four antler corners and you are right on the edge of two gorgeous national parks. Plenty to do for everyone in this quaint, mountain town. 

Next time I will visit... 

Teton Village - I hear there are spectacular views of the whole valley and I would love to see that!

We had made plans to eat at the 

Bar J

 ranch the last night we were there but simply were too exhausted to make it. :( According to my sister-in-law, the food is tasty, but make recommendations and get there early to have a good seat.

Jackson, Wyoming remains one of my favorite small towns. It is still quaint, but bustling. There is definitely plenty to do and if we had more then 24 hours total in the town, I'm sure this list would have been much longer (and our wallets much slimmer!)