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Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

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Twin windmills near Post, Texas

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First stop: The Flume

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Where in the world is it?

The historic Carlsbad Irrigation Flume, known locally as The Flume, is located in Carlsbad, New Mexico. It’s an aquaduct that diverts water from the Pecos River to an irrigation canal. The Pecos River was once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records because The Flume caused it to be the only river in the world that actually crossed itself.

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Looking down the irrigation canal toward The Flume

For more information about Carlsbad, New Mexico and Carlsbad Caverns National Park, click this link to our post: Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Second stop: Throckmorton, Texas

Where in the world is it?

Throckmorton is located 111 miles west of Fort Worth at the intersections of US Highways 380 and 183/283. It is the county seat of Throckmorton County. The Great Western Cattle Trail passed through here during the nineteen years it was in use from 1874 to 1893. Trivia: Dallas Cowboys great, Bob Lilly, once lived in Throckmorton.

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The Throckmorton County courthouse was built in 1890 and in 1978 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Restored to its original state in 2014, the courthouse is also a Texas Historic Landmark. The population of the county was a whopping 124 when this courthouse was originally constructed.
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This is the original Throckmorton County jail, built in 1893. The sheriff’s offices were on the first floor, and the prisoner cells were on the second floor. The old jailhouse now serves as a museum.
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This metal sculpture of a pioneer woman is located in a tiny park area next to the Throckmorton City Hall. Check out that huge prickly pear!

It’s a fact, Jack!

Twenty-six miles southeast of Carlsbad, New Mexico lies the only WIPP in the country. What in the world is a WIPP, you ask? Well, it is a Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. It is a repository for defense-generated waste, including clothing and tools among other things, that have been contaminated with or contain man-made radioactive materials and other elements such as plutonium. This type of waste is called Transuranic or TRU for short. The plant opened in 1999, and now our country’s radioactive nuclear waste is being buried almost a half mile (2,150 feet) underground in an ancient salt bed in the desert of eastern New Mexico. The plant is operated by the Department of Defense and with 1,200 employees is one of the largest employers in New Mexico. And now you know…

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

Badwater Basin

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Amarillo, Texas

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Not far from the halfway point on the old Route 66 lies the city of Amarillo, Texas. Today, I-40 bisects the city which is hard to miss on any mid-America east-west road trip. Amarillo is a classic, from it’s Route 66 historic area to its museums and quirky Americana. Road trippers will want to spend a day or more checking out everything this city has to offer.

On the beaten path…

American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum

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For those who aren’t horse people (we aren’t) and especially for those who are, this is a fantastic experience! Located in a beautiful building at 2601 I-40 east (I-40 and Quarter Horse Drive), this museum and hall of fame is definitely worth a stop for an hour or two.

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Bloodlines from the first recorded quarter horse in America in the 1700s to present day are shown on the floor of the stunning Grand Hall.

Cadillac Ranch

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Ten old Cadillacs (we only captured seven of them due to mud) buried nose down in a field just west of Amarillo on the south side of I-40. Bring your spray paint and leave your own mark on this American classic art installation.

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Jack Sisemore’s Traveland RV Museum

Bring on the nostalgia – this place is fun and free! Located at 4341 Canyon Drive (off of I-27 and Georgia). Enter the RV dealership for an escort out to the museum. Below are some of the vintage RVs and motorcycles that are on display.

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Trivia: Wally Byam incorporated the Airstream travel trailer company in 1931.
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Happy Max. 1948 Flxible used in the movie “RV” starring Robin Williams.
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The world’s oldest Airstream, a 1935 Torpedo, was owned by the Holman family for 81 years.
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1918 Harley Davidson motorcycle with rare left-hand side car.

The Big Texan

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An Amarillo and Route 66 icon! There is a restaurant (obviously), motel, and an RV park, along with photo ops and a free 72 oz steak dinner if eaten within one hour!

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Other points of interest on the beaten path:

  • Route 66 Historic District – west of downtown, beginning at SW 6th Street and McMasters.
  • Amarillo Zoo – 700 Comanchero Trail.
  • Wonderland Amusement Park – 2601 Dumas Drive.

Off the beaten path…

Coyote Bluff Cafe

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Located at 2417 S Grand, this place has some of THE BEST BURGERS we’ve eaten anywhere! Love the laid-back atmosphere here, too. Arrive early for lunch. There are only twelve or thirteen tables and they fill up fast.

Helium Monument

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Officially called the Helium Centennial Time Columns Monument, the 60-foot tall stainless steel structure was erected in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of helium. Four time capsules dedicated to the preservation and responsible use of natural resources are contained in the columns. The first capsule was opened in 1993, and the second in 2018. The other two will be opened on the hundredth, and thousandth anniversaries of the 1968 establishment of the monument. Amarillo is home to a former helium plant and the Texas panhandle once held most of the world’s helium reserves.

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Other points of interest off the beaten path:

  • Bill’s Backyard Classics. Classic car museum – 5309 S Washington Street.
  • Texas Air & Space Museum – 10001 American Drive.

Quirky…

Ozymandias on the Plains

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These “two vast and trunkless legs of stone” are located near the southeast corner of the intersection of I-27 and Sundown Lane, south of town. We suspect that people are using their leftover spray paint from Cadillac Ranch to keep this sculpture colorful.

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Second Amendment Cowboy

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This big (muffler man) guy can be found next to the Cadillac RV park at 2601 Hope Road and the south I-40 frontage road, west of Amarillo and just east of the Cadillac Ranch. The site also includes three old Cadillacs that have mannequins of Willie Nelson, John Wayne, and Elvis sitting in the driver’s seats, and a gift shop. The marker in front of the cowboy is a faux historical marker that touts our Second Amendment right to bear arms, but surprisingly the cowboy does not have a gun. Side note: the RV park is fabulous!

Nearby points of interest…

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument

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  • Website: Alibates Flint Quarries
  • Cost: free
  • Visitor center hours: daily 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Where: approximately 40 minutes north of Amarillo off of Highway 136
  • Hiking trails
  • Ranger led tours of the quarries by reservation only

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Come here to learn about the Plains Indians who quarried the harder-than-steel flint to make arrowheads and spear points. Dating as far back as 13,000 years, flint from these quarries has been found far and wide. While at the visitor center, watch a film about the monument, and then enjoy the small museum.

Lake Meredith National Recreation Area

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  • Website: Lake Meredith
  • Cost: free entrance
  • Visitor center located in Fritch, Texas open daily 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, except holidays
  • Where: seven minutes west of Fritch, Texas, which is approximately 40 minutes north of Amarillo
  • Hiking, RV and tent camping, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hunting
  • Hotels, additional RV campgounds, restaurants, and groceries available in Fritch and in Borger, which is approximately 20 minutes east of Fritch

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Check with the park regarding lake levels and boat preparation before arrival. Hunters must comply with park and state regulations. Texas fishing licenses are required. Camping is free at all sites, except for the electric/water hook-up sites at Sanford-Yake. See the website for details.

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Other nearby points of interest:

  • Palo Duro Canyon State Park – approximately 30 minutes south and east of Amarillo. Beautiful Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the US. (We will cover Palo Duro Canyon in a separate post.)
  • Large Cross in Groom, Texas – approximately 45 minutes east of Amarillo on the south side of I-40. Great stop with Stations of the Cross, which are life-size sculptures depicting the crucifixion of Jesus, and a visitor center that displays an exact replica of the Shroud of Turin. Free, but donations are appreciated.

Okay, that’s going to do it for our Amarillo, Texas overview. We hope you enjoy your journey. We love that you joined us on ours. Please come back again! You never know where we’re going to take you. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Abilene, Texas

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Abilene, Texas may now be known as the storybook capital of America, but the city is so much more. In 1881 when lots began being sold and cattlemen began shipping cattle on the Texas and Pacific Railway, a thriving city was born. Shortly thereafter, Abilene was named county seat of Taylor County, having won a vote to move it from Buffalo Gap. Today, Abilene is home to three universities, satellite campuses of a junior college and a technical college, as well as Dyess Air Force Base. Located 150 miles west of Fort Worth on I-20, Abilene is a can’t miss stop on a West Texas road trip. We highly recommend staying over for a day or two to experience this wonderful, historic city.

On the beaten path…

Frontier Texas!

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Located at 625 N 1st Street. This is a multimedia museum unlike any other we have ever seen, and we loved it. Go to learn about the history of West Texas from the people who settled the area. Exceptional western heritage exhibits, videos, and holograms. Yes, holograms, and they are amazing! Beautiful building, lovely grounds, and a nice gift shop, too. Open Monday – Saturday 9:00 – 6:00 and Sunday 1:00 – 5:00. Adults $10.00, Seniors/Military $7.00, Students/Teachers $6.00, Children (3-12) $5.00, Ages 2 and under are free.

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Flying Buffalo Herd at Frontier Texas

The Grace Museum

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The Grace Museum is an art and history museum that includes a hands-on children’s museum area. The building was originally the Hotel Grace, built in 1909. We happened to visit on a free admission day, but we would have gladly paid the $6.00 per adult fee for the art exhibits alone. Located at 102 Cypress Street, The Grace Museum is open 10:00 – 5:00 Tuesday – Saturday.

Storybook Sculptures

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The Lorax in Everman Park

Storybook sculptures can be found all over downtown Abilene. Dr. Seuss characters, among others, can be seen in Everman Park (across the street from The Grace Museum) and more at the Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden (1008 N. 6th Street). Kids and adults of all ages will love these whimsical characters! Click here for a Storybook Adventure Guide: Abilene Storybook Adventure. While visiting downtown Abilene, be sure to check out the NCCIL (National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature) located at 102 Cedar Street for weekly children’s activities, an illustration gallery, and a children’s bookstore. The NCCIL (aka the nickel) is open 10:00 – 4:00 Tuesday – Saturday.

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Characters emerge straight out of the pages of a storybook! This fabulous sculpture in Everman Park is called “Childhood’s Great Adventure”

Abilene Zoological Park

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Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Seven

 

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Peeking through the trees at the Grand Teton Mountains

→Note: this is the seventh post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

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We would be remiss if we did not mention that Grand Teton National Park is Yellowstone’s next door neighbor to the south. The John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway is the route between West Thumb (Yellowstone) and the northern tip of Jackson Lake (Grand Teton). The scenic parkway is twenty-seven miles long, but the road (US Hwy 191) continues another forty or so miles to Jackson, Wyoming, winding through the park along the Snake River. Teton Park Road is the one to take for the most scenic parts of the park. The park road begins at Jackson Lake Junction, running for approximately twenty miles, then joins US Hwy 191 at Moose Junction.

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Grand Tetons and Jackson Lake

Destination: Grand Teton National Park

  • Website link: Grand Teton National Park
  • Cost: $35.00 per car for one week pass
  • Accommodations include: lodges, cabins, dude ranch, tent camping, backcountry camping, RV campground, restaurants (hotels, campgrounds, and restaurants also available in Jackson, Wyoming)
  • Hiking, biking, scenic drives, wildlife, fishing, canoeing/kayaking, climbing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, (downhill skiing and other winter sports available in Jackson, Wyoming)
  • When to go: anytime, but check the website as well as road reports for closures during winter months

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Since this is our final Yellowstone post, we thought we would list some tips for visiting this spectacular park:

  • Don’t rush. Plan to spend several days, if not a week or more, just to see the major attractions of the park. The park is so big it would take months (or years, even) to cover the majority of its almost 3,500 square miles.
  • Make park campground and hotel/lodge reservations well in advance of your trip. These sites book months in advance. Over four million people visited the park in 2017!
  • RV sites in Yellowstone can be small and difficult to maneuver, especially for longer rigs. There are many RV parks outside the park.
  • IMG_0350The wildlife in Yellowstone (and Grand Teton) is wild! The park service recommends staying at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves, and 25 yards away from all other large animals. And, never feed the wildlife, including squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. Animals that get used to being fed by humans don’t continue to thrive in the wild.
  • Hike with a group. Bears are more likely to attack a lone traveler than to approach a group. Hikers might want to consider carrying bear spray.
  • Stay on the boardwalks and designated trails in geyser areas. People have been killed because they did not follow the rules.
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Colorful thermophiles at the edge of boiling Excelsior Geyser
  • Our last and most important tip is to plan, plan, plan before you go. Research the park’s website, watch online videos, and read blogs! Decide on everything you want to see and do while you’re there and write it down. We make a detailed itinerary for every trip. Yes, itineraries take time (and we don’t always stick to them), but it beats arriving at a destination and not having a clue about where to go, where to eat, and what to do.

Below are a few more pictures of beautiful Yellowstone National Park.

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Thank you for joining us on our Yellowstone National Park adventure. We hope that by posting our trips we are inspiring you to plan your own adventures to the places we have visited and loved. Become a follower, or simply like our page. Follow us on Facebook. Leave us a comment. Tell us about your own travels. Come back often to see more great road trip destinations, and tell your friends about us!

We leave this post with a picture of a vintage 1936 National Park Bus. Eight of these refurbished tour buses operate in the park today.

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Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Two

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Porcelain Basin

→Note: this is the second post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

Destinations: Norris Area and Canyon Village Area

First Stop: Norris Area

From the west park entrance, drive 14 miles east to Madison Junction. At Madison Junction, continue east/northeast past Gibbon Falls, then north past Artist Paintpots to Norris. It is approximately 14 miles from Madison Junction to Norris.

Norris Geyser Basin, the hottest thermal area of Yellowstone National Park, is home to the elusive Steamboat Geyser which is the tallest geyser in the world. Steamboat Geyser has erupted recently, but sometimes remains dormant for years.

Take the three-quarter mile Porcelain Basin Trail (boardwalk) to see geysers, fumaroles, hot springs, steam vents, boiling water, and bubbling mud pots. Below are some of our favorite pictures from Porcelain Basin.

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Certain bacteria thrive in the boiling hot waters of Yellowstone National Park. These brilliant green thermophiles make an artistic display.
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Holy smokes!
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Steam vents and pristine water

The Norris area is also home to The Norris Geyser Basin Museum. The structure has a breezeway that straddles the path leading to the Porcelain Basin Terrace Overlook. Construction on the building began in 1929, and the museum is now a National Historic Landmark. This is a can’t-miss feature of the area.

Another can’t-miss feature of the Norris area is the Museum of the National Park Ranger. Originally the Norris Soldier Station, the building has seen many changes over the years, including a total rebuild using original materials and the original floor plan. Stop in to see the exhibits and watch a short film about the history of the National Park Service.

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Museum of the National Park Ranger

Travel tip: the steam emitted by Yellowstone’s geysers and vents smells like sulphur. This odor can linger on clothes and in hair.

Now on to the Canyon Village area of the park.

From Norris Junction go east 12 miles to Canyon Village.

Second stop: Canyon Village

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Coyote in a meadow between Norris and Canyon Village

Stop in at the Canyon Village Visitor Education Center. Several points along the road as well as trails offer exceptional views of the canyon and the upper and lower falls. Artists Point is a popular viewpoint. While listening to the roaring power of the falling water, hike (stairs) to the brink of Lower Falls and see them crash 309 feet down into the river canyon below. This area has several hiking trails. Check the website above for details.

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Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
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Lower Falls – taller than Niagara Falls!
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Near the brink of Lower Falls

Yellowstone – Part Two is a wrap! We are going to end this post with the grizzly bear sculpture in front of the Yellowstone History Museum in West Yellowstone, Montana. Come back next week for Part Three. We will be posting more exciting sections of Yellowstone National Park. Thank you for joining us!

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A visit to the Yellowstone History Museum in West Yellowstone is a great introduction to your trip to Yellowstone National Park. Be sure to watch the film about the 1988 forest fires.

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part One

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  • Website: Yellowstone National Park
  • Cost: $35.00 per car for a seven day pass
  • RV, tent, and backcountry camping
  • Lodges and restaurants in the park
  • Hiking, scenic drives, fishing, kayaking/canoeing, swimming, wildlife/bird watching, hydrothermal features, etc.
  • Snowmobiling, cross-country skiing in the winter, and less crowds
  • When to go: anytime. Most crowded during the summer months. We recommend September.

→Note: this is the first post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

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Forest fire? Nope, just some early morning thermal activity.

Hands down, Yellowstone is our favorite national park. Although we haven’t visited all of them yet, we can’t imagine anything topping this gem. Every aspect of the park, from the flora and the fauna to the rivers and the waterfalls to the mountains and the unique thermal features, is breathtakingly beautiful. We visited Yellowstone in the early fall, but we would love to go back for every season.

Yellowstone is 320 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah, which has the closest major airport, so that is where we begin our trip. If time permits, we recommend spending a couple of days in Salt Lake City. Here’s a link: Salt Lake City

Getting there

From Salt Lake City, take I-15 north toward Ogden, Utah. Continue north toward Pocatello, Idaho. Stay on I-15 to Idaho Falls.

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Bonus stop: Idaho Falls, Idaho. We spent the first night of our trip in Idaho Falls. A walk along the river in the city’s greenbelt/riverwalk area was the perfect way to stretch our legs after a day of travel. The city offers several parks, museums, and shopping.

*Recommended hotel in Idaho Falls: Hampton Inn.

*Recommended restaurant in Idaho Falls: Sandpiper Restaurant, 750 Lindsay Blvd.

*There are many campgrounds and RV parks in and around Idaho Falls.

Drive time between Salt Lake City and Idaho Falls: 3 hours. (The scenery is gorgeous!)

From Idaho Falls, take US Highway 20 north toward Rexburg, Idaho. Continue north to West Yellowstone, Montana, which is the west entrance into the park. Drive time between Idaho Falls and West Yellowstone: 1.75 hours.

Travel tip: while driving north of Idaho Falls, look east to see the Grand Tetons on the horizon in Grand Teton National Park. There is a pull out along US Highway 20 with signs that tell about the mountains (how they got their name) and offers a good photo op. At Ashton, you will enter the beautiful Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

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*Recommended hotel in West Yellowstone: Kelly Inn – 104 S Canyon St., West Yellowstone, Montana – (800) 259-4672.

*There are many options for tent and RV camping in West Yellowstone as well as in the park.

Destination: Yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone is huge! It takes a lot of driving and several days just to hit the highlights of the park.  However, the roads basically make an easily navigable figure eight shape (Upper Loop and Lower Loop), and with the help of the park map everything is easy to find.

Travel tip: each section of the park that we’re going to cover has either a Visitor Center and Museum, Visitor Education Center, or an Information Station. Take advantage of these excellent resources. The park rangers are extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

Now on to Madison. Since we stayed in West Yellowstone, we entered the west entrance of the park and drove 14 miles (about 30 minutes) to and through the Madison area of the park every day.  The scenery along the Madison River provided us something new each day, whether it was steam rising from the river due to the chilly morning air or animals starting their day in the meadows.

First stop: Madison Area

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Elk along the edge of the river
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Steam rising from the river

The route we’re taking in this post goes from the west park entrance to the Madison area and then north toward Norris Geyser Basin. It covers less than a quarter of the Lower Loop road which is 96 miles long.

Travel tip: traffic comes to a halt when animals are on the roadways. They have the right of way! Observe speed limits, and be prepared for delays when traveling through the park. Animals on the side of the road cause traffic jams, too, because everyone (including us) wants a picture. Remember that it is illegal to approach or feed the wildlife.

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This bad boy caused a very long traffic jam. We ate our picnic lunch in the car while we waited.
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Gibbon Falls from the scenic pull-out

Travel tip: Pull-outs for park features such as waterfalls and other points of interest can be very crowded with vehicles and pedestrians. Use caution when driving in and around these areas.

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Second stop: Artist Paintpots 

This area makes for a nice little hike and showcases some interesting features. Fumaroles (cracks or openings in the earth where a volcano let’s off steam and gasses), steamy water, and bubbling mud are some of the features that can be seen here.

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That’s going to do it for Yellowstone – Part One. Stop by next week for an exciting Part Two as we cover more of this extraordinary park. Thanks so much for traveling with us! We will close this post with a beautiful view of Mount Holmes.

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Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true products, vendors, and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own. Photo copyright infringement is not intended. Our written content and photos are copyrighted, and may not be published without our permission.

©2019