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

 

 

 

 

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

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Restaurant in Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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’ll be on our way!

First Stop: Mexican Hat (Utah)

Where in the world is it?

It’s in southeastern Utah, and it really is a town. We heard that the town’s population is 31, but that might be a stretch. So why in the world would anyone name a town Mexican Hat? Well… ↓

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Surprise! It’s named after this rock formation near the town.

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This surreal mountain scene is also near Mexican Hat. Reminds us of Southwestern Native American pottery! Isn’t it amazing?

Second Stop: Idaho Falls (Idaho)

Where in the world is it?

The city of Idaho Falls, Idaho is in the southeastern portion of the state. The Snake River runs through the city and that’s what creates the “falls” of Idaho Falls.

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Below is a picture of the spire of the Latter Day Saints Temple in Idaho Falls all lit up at night. We think it’s an architectural work of art.

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It’s a fact, Jack!

Mexican Hat is located in the state of Utah, and so is the Great Salt Lake. Utah is derived from a Ute word meaning “people of the mountains”. No fish live in the Great Salt Lake. And now you know…

That does it for this week. Thank you for joining us! Come back next week for another exciting post. You never know where we are going to take you! If you like our Quick Stops posts, leave us a message and let us know we should keep doing them. If you don’t like them, tell us that, too. Until the next trip…

Travel save, 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.

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Craters of the Moon National Monument

 

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Lava field. The white dome in this picture is called a kipuka.
  • IMG_0732Website: Craters of the Moon
  • Cost: $20.00 per car for one week pass
  • Visitor center hours vary by season
  • Campground in the park
  • Backcountry camping permitted in the preserve
  • Scenic drive
  • Hiking
  • Picnic areas
  • Caving
  • International Dark Sky Park
  • When to go: anytime.
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Lava flow

Getting There

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Idaho Falls, Idaho, which is 130 miles from Craters of the Moon, has a regional airport that is served by a few national carriers. We are going to start our trip from there, so get your camera ready and let’s hit the road!

Note: Salt Lake City, Utah has the closest major airport and is 300 miles from Craters of the Moon.

*Recommended hotel in Idaho Falls: Hampton Inn.

*Recommended restaurant in Idaho Falls: The Sandpiper Restaurant – 750 Lindsay Blvd. – great food and great service.

From Idaho Falls take Highway 20 west toward Arco, Idaho.

Bonus stop: EBR-1 National Historic Landmark. For those wanting to satisfy their inner geek, this stop is for you. EBR-1 was the first nuclear reactor to generate electricity, and it is located at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). Unfortunately, the museum is only open only during the summer.

IMG_0701Travel tip: West of INL on the South side of Highway 20, there is a rest area (with nice restrooms) that has some outside displays with great information about the region. We highly recommend spending a few minutes here learning about Nuclear Reactors, the Eastern Snake River Plain, the Great Rift, the Lost Rivers, and other interesting topics.

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Just one example of the beauty of Idaho

Below is one of several buttes (volcanic perhaps?) along Highway 20 between Idaho Falls and Arco. This region has many lava flows, cones, rifts, and other volcanic features, most of which are contained in the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. The combined lava flows of the monument and preserve cover over 600 square miles. That’s a lotta lava! Check it out on Google Earth sometime.

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Continue west on Highway 20 to the town of Arco, Idaho.

Bonus stop: Arco, Idaho.

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Stop in Arco to see Number Hill, and we highly recommend stopping for lunch at Pickle’s Place. Good food in a retro diner atmosphere. We ate at the counter with a local man who told us the story of the Apollo astronauts coming to Arco in the 1960s to train at Craters of the Moon National Monument. Hearing his story was one of the highlights our trip.

From Arco take US Highway 26/93 west 19 miles to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve Visitor Center. Drive time between Idaho Falls and Craters of the Moon: 2 hours.

Travel tip: as with many remote sites, GPS systems may not be reliable for directions to this park. Refer to your road atlas if in doubt.

Destination: Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

The first stop is the visitors center where films, displays, and exhibits explain the characteristics of the park. Learn to identify the many different types of lava, and find out if the volcanoes are still active. The pictures below show some of the features of the park.

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Spatter cones
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Inferno Cone Trail
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Lava flow and cinder cones
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Spatter Cone
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We love the contrasting landscapes of this shot! (This type of lava is called a’a.)

Thank you for joining us on our visit to Craters of the Moon. We post our journeys simply because we love sharing them with you. Our hope and mission is for you to be inspired by our photos and guided by our experiences in order to seek your own adventures in the wonderful national parks and beautiful cities of our great country. For those who can’t “just get in the car”, we love that we can provide you with virtual travel experiences. Please leave us a message below and tell us about your own travels. We would love to hear from you. 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.

©2018