Yellowstone National Park | Grand Teton National Park | Rocky Mountain National Park
Colorado and Wyoming
Three more national parks to check off my buck list. Ten national parks in one year! Can I take a moment to celebrate, I am feeling so proud of myself right now. When I spent 80 bucks on a national park pass earlier this year, I never imagined that it would be such a rewarding investment! The return has been beyond my wildest dreams – priceless. Visiting our beautiful national parks has yielded an abundance of happiness so much more than any of the STUFF that I use to fill my life with. There is no feeling in the world that can replace the sensation of being outdoors. There is nothing more invigorating than the smell of wildflowers in a meadow, a stroll along an alpine lake or gazing at towering mountains.
During my recent national park adventure, I got to visit a new state, Wyoming! I can’t even begin to express to you how it feels visiting a new state for the very first time – amazing I tell you, amazing! I started my journey in Colorado where I visited the Rocky Mountain National park before heading to Wyoming to explore the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. I enjoyed the uniqueness that each park had to offer and my time in each was quite relaxing so much so that I didn’t want to leave. One of the things that I like most about national parks is that it forces you to slow down and enjoy your surroundings to live in the moment.
Yellowstone National Park
BEAUTIFUL, beautiful, beautiful. Wildlife in abundance! Elks and bisons and swans, oh my! Yes, I saw some of the most beautiful swans in YNP. I was hoping to see a grey wolf and a grizzly bear or two, but it didn’t happen. Maybe next time! YNP is known for its diversity in animals and geothermal boiling mud pots, erupting geysers and vividly colored hot springs. And waterfalls that cascade down the rocky mountainside creating beautiful rivers and streams. The scenery is pristine and full of wildlife. I love National Parks!
Grand Prismatic Spring
Upper Yellowstone Falls
I only had time to drive the scenic lower loop that started at west thumb the drive was enjoyable it offered picturesque views and countless natural features. It took me roughly seven hours to complete the loop. I wasn’t able to see everything that I had planned because I stopped at every turnout area that I came upon. When I saw the herds of bison, I sat for the longest time watching them do what they do – graze, sleep and chase! When I arrived at the Grand Prismatic Springs, my heart skipped a few beats. The brightly colored hot springs seemed so unreal. You know it’s real, but it’s so hard to take in something so naturally beautiful. It was like the landscape had been painted in a rainbow of colors.
Yellowstone Lake -Hwy 191
When planning your trip to YNP give yourself two or three full days to explore. It’ll be time well spent!
Grand Teton National Park
The Teton Mountain range is GRAND! It is hands-down the most beautiful mountain range I have ever seen, and the snow-capped peaks are the icing on the cake. After gazing at snow-capped peaks for some time, I took a stroll along an alpine lake and through meadows full of wildflowers. I sat for hours looking over scenic valleys with the Tetons as its backdrop while enjoying wildlife roaming free all around me.
I even spotted a little chipmunk watching me eat my Cheetos puffs and turkey sandwich. His cuteness almost made me share my puffs, but you’re not allowed to feed the wildlife. He almost had me though! If you don’t hike any of the trails, this park can be explored in one day. I spent a day in a half in the park, and I felt like I covered a lot of ground. I even had time to exit the park and see the famous T.A Mouton’s Barn in the Mormon Row Historic District.
T.A Moulton Barn
It was a pleasant 10-minute scenic drive from the west Granite Canyon exit. It was quite an experience to see the homestead of earlier Mormon settlers. I love how they lived so simply and off the land. Allow yourself about an hour or so to explore this area and see more breathing views of the Tetons Range and snap more pictures. You must capture those memories!
Rocky Mountain National Park
Altitude sickness! RMNP is known for its mountains, alpine lakes, and wildlife. I enjoyed the beautiful mountains and wildlife, but I didn’t get a chance to see any of the lakes that I had planned to visit along the Bear Lake Trail. I was admiring the Forrest Canyon when I overheard someone raving about all the elk they just saw grazing in a valley near the Alpine Visitor Center, so I hopped in my red Volkswagen beetle and zipped up the scenic Trail Ridge Road to check it out.
Longs Peak – 14,259 ft
The TRR offers stunning views of the alpine tundra, rolling landscape and lava cliffs which made the drive quite enjoyable, so I made it up to the visitor center 11,796 ft and was busted. Ha! I noticed on the trip up, I felt fatigue but thought I was just tired from traveling, and I had already been in the park for about 4 hours. It wasn’t until the car stopped that I became nauseated and dizzy I knew right then I had altitude sickness.
Mountains, rolling hills and Trail Ridge Road – (can you spot the road?)
Rolling hills and Trail Ridge Road
I thought I would have learned my lesson by now from zipping up 14, 115 ft to Pikes Peak Summit a few years back and getting sick from the high altitudes. Altitude sickness is no fun and can make your trip unpleasant. Even after driving down to lower elevations I still felt sick, so I had to forfeit seeing the lakes. I drove around for a bit enjoying the scenery and occasional wildlife sighting before stumbling upon up a meadow full of elks. I sat for an hour or so enjoying my dinner and watching them enjoy theirs too before ending my day in RMNP.
I do plan to go back someday to see the beautiful alpine lakes which luckily are at a lower altitude but just in case I will have my can of oxygen on hand!
Tiff and Rosie
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
~ John Muir