After living in Colorado for 8 years, I thought I had seen everything there was to see when it came to the outdoors. Robbie and I love to go hiking and camping every summer and we try to see as much of our beautiful state as possible. But I have to tell you, visiting Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks really opened my eyes to what the Rockies have to offer outside of Colorado.
First of all, the parks are massive. Yellowstone alone covers over 2.2 million acres across 3 different states. We were there for almost a week and barely scratched the surface of Yellowstone. Second, the Teton Range is a spectacular sight, and not to be overlooked. I didn’t know mountains like that existed in Wyoming (most of the terrain I’ve seen in Wyoming has been pretty flat). On our drive into Yellowstone we started seeing the frosty white jagged mountains, quite a shocking sight in September.
The amount of wildlife we saw was the highlight of our trip. Robbie and I visited Alaska last year and we didn’t see a fraction of the wildlife we saw in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. We photographed a couple of grizzly bears (from afar), bison, elk, deer and even a moose! I have wanted to see a moose for so long and finally got my chance.
However, it wasn’t perfect. There were some downsides to our visit to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. One downside was the sheer volume of visitors. Even in September, we were amongst crowds of people everywhere in the park, and September is considered the shoulder season! Unfortunately, National Parks are generally pretty strict when it comes to pets. Pets are not allowed in most places throughout the park, including trails, which made it hard for us when we wanted to check out a unique sight and had to leave Lucy in the car. She’s not a huge fan of car rides in general, so more time in the car was not her idea of a good time.
We definitely plan to visit Yellowstone and Grand Tetons in the future, however, I think we will do things a little differently next time. For example, we stayed in Yellowstone first, but looking back, I would have started our journey in Grand Tetons National Park. Grand Tetons National Park is located south of Yellowstone, so it makes more sense for visitors traveling from the south to begin the experience in Grand Tetons National Park. We figured out a little too late that it was counterproductive to backtrack to Grand Tetons after staying in Yellowstone.
It’s also well worth planning and booking your campsites ahead of time, but it’s not required because of the numerous “first come, first served” campsites. We like to plan as we go, so using non-reservable campgrounds worked in our favor. However, in order to get a good campsite, plan to get to the campgrounds early. And by early, I mean before 10 a.m., so you can snag a site from someone who is just heading out.
Finally, we would have liked to stay at different campsites throughout the parks during our stay instead of staying at one campground. As I mentioned before, Yellowstone is massive and it’s hard to see everything in the park. Combine that factor with the amount of people in the park, and it will take you all day to cover 20 miles. Staying at different campsites throughout the park will allow you to be able to visit the attractions nearest you and you can avoid having to drive long round-trip distances.
Overall, our trip to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks was amazing. We are excited to return some day and visit the places we were unable to see the first time around.