Quick! Think of a National Park! How many of you instantly thought of Yellowstone?? Even though my favorite National Park happens to be Grand Teton, Yellowstone is almost always the first one that comes to mind when I hear those two words. Why? I’m not really sure. Maybe it’s because it was the very first National Park. Or maybe it’s because it’s one of the most talked about. Either way, it’s a place that you have to visit at least once in your lifetime.
Ahhh Yellowstone. Just thinking about it makes me think I’m smelling rotten eggs. HAHA But really, Yellowstone may be beautiful but it smells! At 3,472 square miles, stretching across Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, it’s bigger than some US states. It’s a place filled with geysers (hence the sulphur smell), waterfalls, lakes, and animals. It’s a place almost every parent can remember road tripping to with their family, and want their children to experience it too. With campgrounds everywhere, it makes a perfect destination for the classic family RV trip. However, it’s close proximity to Jackson Hole also makes it an easy day trip from the Tetons. (Not that you’ll ever want to leave. Just sayin’.)
Before I even get started on talking about the amazing things Yellowstone has to offer, I think there are a few things you should know.
- If you’re making it a day trip from Jackson, you’ll be in the car A LOT. Now this doesn’t bother me at all, but for people like my super ADHD hubby, and my Mama who doesn’t like to be in cars for long periods of time, this was torture.
- You have to see Yellowstone at least once in your life, don’t get me wrong. But I think you’ll like Grand Teton more. While I was so glad I got to see Yellowstone, I would have been completely content to skip the trip north and just enjoy another day hiking in the mountains.
- Don’t try to see it all in one day, even if you’re only there for a day. Pick a few things and spend time enjoying them. (I’ll let you know my favorites in a bit if you’re having trouble deciding!)
- Stay on trails… don’t wander off. You don’t want to fall into a geyser and end up deep fried. Also, I saw SO MANY people walking their animals around geysers (which I’m pretty sure you aren’t supposed to do in the first place). Please, please, please, PLEASE keep your puppies at home or in your camper while you visit. (Or in the designated pet areas.) It’s not a place for dogs. I know that my pups are literally all over the place when they walk. I can’t stand the thought of your precious little fur ball accidentally falling into a geyser. So just keep them away!
- It’s not a petting zoo. Don’t touch the animals. You’ll find that the animals in Yellowstone are so used to visitors, they aren’t afraid to walk right past you. Just keep your distance. It’s for your safety!
Okay! Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s start talking about how to make the most of a day trip from Jackson!
Get up early. I promise, you’re going to want to spend as much time as you can at Yellowstone, so make the most of your day. We left around 7:30 am, and wish we’d have left a little bit earlier.
Getting there. Getting to Yellowstone from Jackson Hole is SUPER easy. It only takes about 60 minutes to reach the southern entrance. It’s a straight trip up 191. (You start getting the miles under your butt driving inside the park.) PS. If you’re heading up from Jackson, stop and see Mt. Moran first thing in the AM. It’s just so dang pretty!
First things first. (I’m the realest.) Sorry. Had to. Chances are if you’re going to Yellowstone you want to see Old Faithful. I mean, who wouldn’t? I could ask my First Graders what Old Faithful was and they would be able to tell you. It’s super famous for a reason, and you’ll want it to be your first stop on the trip, mostly because it gets so dang busy. Luckily, Old Faithful erupts just about every hour. (Give or take a few minutes). I highly recommend seeing it from start to finish. We pulled up as it was finishing an eruption. We watched it, it was cool, but we wanted to wait to see it in full force. We were SO happy we did, and you will be too. It truly is incredible. There is a lot to do around Old Faithful, so don’t worry about passing the time. Like…
Stopping by the Old Faithful Inn. It is STUNNING. Or walking around on the trails. This is where a buffalo literally walked right past me. I was petrified because that sucker was HUGE. But he wasn’t bothered by me at all because I just left him be. Everyone around kind of held their breath as he started walking towards me. And lastly, stopping by the Old Faithful Lodge is always a good idea. Head in to their bakeshop, grab something to eat and enjoy the amazing view!
Be sure to head outside early to get a spot for the big show. You’ll want to be able to take lots and lots of pictures!
After you see Old Faithful, drive over to Biscuit Basin. It’s filled with baby geysers and little pools of water. They’re all super pretty! And it’s a nice little walk. Plus, Sapphire Pool is super beautiful. It’s a great little side stop.
Next up were the Artist’s Paintpots. This was Trev’s number one choice of things he wanted to see at Yellowstone. I was not impressed. I couldn’t see why we had to go see bubbling mud puddles when there were beautiful, colorful hot springs just down the road. But, I sucked it up, and took one for the team. We were all a bit underwhelmed, but it was probably because he had just seen Grand Prismatic. And honestly, you can’t compete with that.
From here, we drove up to Mammoth Hot Springs. This was TWO HOURS north of where we were, and honestly, I don’t think it was worth the extra time. Yes, it was cool. But we were there for like 10 minutes then turned and drove back. Cue massive eye rolls.
Finally, don’t miss the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. We headed back down after seeing the Hot Springs to check out the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. It’s massive and super beautiful. If you’re in Yellowstone, you really can’t miss it! There’s a ton of steps you can walk down to get closer to the waterfall, and a lot of viewing areas at the top. No matter where you choose to see it from, you’re going to have an amazing view!
If I were doing it again as a day trip, my “must sees” would have to be Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic, and The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I know. That’s not even close to seeing all the park has to offer. But for me, when I’m doing a “driving” type tour, I want to see only the things that are jaw droppingly beautiful or so unique that I will never, ever have chance to see anything like it anywhere else in the world. And lets be real, all though the massive termite mound by Mammoth Hot Spring was impressive, it just wasn’t something I absolutely NEEDED to see before I die. Ya feel? Besides, it we’d have kept to just these three biggies, and smaller things near them, we could have made it back Jackson for dinner.
I really believe that everyone needs to see Yellowstone at some point in their life. However, my biggest tip for you is to stop and see it BEFORE you head to the Tetons. While I enjoyed my time there, I was longing to be hiking in the mountains that day. If you’re like me, and LOVE the mountains, there is just no competing with the Tetons while you’re in that area. I think I would have been more open to everything I saw that I wasn’t so impressed with (I’m talkin’ to you paintpots and Mammoth) if I hadn’t had my mind on the mountains. Another tip would be to spend more than a day visiting. I think if you had time to get out and hike around and really explore, you’d fall a little bit more in love with it. And my final tip? If you’re staying in the Jackson area, end your day the way you started it… at Mt. Moran. Heart eyes all over the place!
Don’t get me wrong, Yellowstone is beautiful. It’s unique. And you’ll never visit another place in this world that is anything like it. However, The Tetons stole my heart, and I never really got it back. (I mean just look at that picture! How could they not?!) Next week, I’m talking about our final day in Jackson and I’m so sad talking about this trip is coming to an end! However, our last day was FANTASTIC and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!
I hope you’re all having a wonderful Tuesday! I mean… how can you not be? It’s NATIONAL TACO DAY. Don’t worry, I’ll be celebrating tonight with my favorite homemade chicken tacos!