Yellowstone National Park – Part One


  • 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.

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.


*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


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

Elk along the edge of the river
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.

This bad boy caused a very long traffic jam. We ate our picnic lunch in the car while we waited.
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.


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.





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.


Until the next trip…

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

Mike and Kellye


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.






Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Capitol Reef National Park


  • Website: Capitol Reef National Park.
  • Cost: $15.00 per vehicle.
  • Accommodations in the park: RV and tent camping. Backcountry camping allowed with a permit.
  • Great park for hiking, biking, and climbing.
  • Lodging, additional camping, and groceries available in Torrey, Utah – 11 miles west of the west park entrance.
  • Restaurants available in Torrey. *Recommended: Slackers – good burgers!
  • When to go to Capitol Reef: Anytime. We recommend May or September.

The interesting terrain at Capitol Reef National Park was created by a 90-mile long wrinkle in the earth called a waterpocket fold. The picture below was taken from a high point on Highway 12 looking toward Capitol Reef (mid-background).


Getting There

From Bryce Canyon National Park, take Highway 12 (recommended scenic route through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument) east toward Escalante, Utah, then north to Highway 24 through Torrey, Utah to the park’s entrance. Travel tip: use extreme caution on Highway 12 through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. There are twists, turns, and high points on the two lane road with no guardrails in some places, however, the scenery is spectacular and very worth taking the route. Drive time between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef: 2.5 hours, or,

From Salt Lake City (closest major airport city), take I-15 south to Scipio, Utah. At Scipio, take US Highway 50 to US Highway 89 to Richfield, Utah then Highway 24 south(east) through Torrey, Utah and the park’s entrance. Drive time between Salt Lake City and Capitol Reef National Park: 3.5 hours.

Travel tip: if you are continuing on to Moab, Utah, top off your gas tank in Torrey before entering the park. The closest gas station (in Hanksville) is an hour east.

Destination: Capitol Reef National Park


Stop in at the visitor center for information about the park. Then continue on Highway 24 to Fruita, Utah, which is the site of an old settlement that is now contained inside the park. Did you know that the original orchards planted by settlers in this area remain in Capital Reef today? The orchards are open to the public during the picking seasons. Check the park’s website for details about how and when the fruits can be harvested.

At Fruita, stop in at the Gifford House Museum and Store, check out the Fruita Schoolhouse, and don’t forget to take a few pictures of the Gifford Barn; it’s a classic!

The Fruita historic area is a great place for a leisurely stroll and a picnic. There is a campground here, too.

Gifford Barn


Take Scenic Drive south of Fruita for scenery and views of the waterpocket fold, or continue on Highway 24 east through the park. There are several places to pull out. We enjoyed seeing the petroglyphs. Parking is available in this area and there are easy trails/boardwalk to allow ample viewing of these ancient wonders.

Of course, the scenery is what we went to Capitol Reef to see, and it didn’t disappoint. Below are some of our favorite shots.


We are quite fond of red rocks, and no, they never get old!

Interesting Formations and Beautiful Colors

This park is where we first learned about desert varnish. The “varnish”, from minerals and metals in the rock turns the rock into a work of art. Isn’t nature amazing?


This cliff face looks painted, but it’s not. It is just that pretty, although, the photo does not do justice to the actual view. The petroglyphs pictured above were high up on this wall.

IMG_2268Travel tip: Capitol Reef has miles and miles of hiking trails for day hikers of all skill levels. There are also many options for backcountry hiking and backpacking. Just remember that this is the desert and it can get extremely hot during the day. Take more water than you think you will need.IMG_2223We hope you enjoyed our short overview of Capitol Reef National Park. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get as much traffic or publicity as some of the other Utah national parks, but a short or long visit to Capitol Reef will be well worth you time. Leave a comment below and tell us about your trip. We love hearing from you. Until next time…

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

Mike and Kellye


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.



Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Bryce Canyon National Park


  • Website: Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Cost: $35.00 per car.
  • Accommodations: RV and tent camping in the park, and Bryce Canyon Lodge.
  • Hotel and additional RV camping just outside the park entrance.
  • Park shuttle available from April through October (not mandatory as in Zion).
  • Dining available at Bryce Canyon Lodge.
  • When to go: we recommend June through mid-September.

Bryce Canyon is undeniably one of the jewels in the crown of the National Park System. The breathtaking scenery leaves most who view it speechless. All we could say when we got to Inspiration Point was, “Wow!”, and it took a few minutes before another word was uttered by either of us. Every stop in the park is incredibly impressive, so let’s go!

Getting There

From Zion National Park, take Highway 9 east to US Highway 89 north toward Panguitch, Utah. Travel tip: when traveling in or with an RV, check with Zion National Park before attempting Highway 9 east out of the park. The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, which lies between the east park entrance and the south park entrance, may or may not accommodate your vehicle/trailer. The park has special regulations/fees for RVs traveling this road.

Turn right (east) on to Highway 12 (Scenic Byway 12 – All American Road, and it lives up to its name for all 121 miles!) Drive time between Zion and Bryce Canyon: 1.5 hours.

Tunnel on Highway 12 – All American Road

From Salt Lake City, take I-15 south to Cedar City: Drive time between Salt Lake City and Cedar City: 3.5 hours. At Cedar City, take Highway 14 east toward Cedar Breaks National Monument. Bonus stop: Cedar Breaks National Monument. Deep canyon featuring gorgeous red rock formations and hoodoos. The perfect prelude to Bryce Canyon. Here’s a link: Cedar Breaks National Monument. Continue on Highway 14 east to US Highway 89. Take US Highway 89 north to Highway 12 (Scenic Byway 12 – All American Road) and turn right (east) to Bryce Canyon. Drive time between Cedar City and Bryce Canyon: 1.5 hours.


Bonus stop: Red Canyon Visitor Center. Hiking, biking, camping, and picnicking here. Another prelude to what Bryce Canyon holds in store. Great place for a rest stop or a picnic, plus some great photo ops.

Formations at Red Canyon

Suggested accommodations in the area: Ruby’s Inn at the entrance to Bryce Canyon. Here’s a link: Ruby’s Inn. There is also camping available and a small grocery store near Ruby’s Inn. Days Inn in Panguitch. Here’s a link: Days Inn, Panguitch, Utah. Campgrounds available in Panguitch. Drive time between Panguitch and Bryce Canyon: 30 minutes.

Suggested restaurant in Panguitch: The Original Kenny Rays – 80 N Main St.

*Recommended restaurant in Panguitch: Cowboy’s Smokehouse – 95 North Main.

Destination: Bryce Canyon National Park

From Highway 12, turn right (south) on to Highway 63 to the park entrance. Stop at the visitor center for park information, then continue on Highway 63 south. The park road is 18 miles long with stops for each “canyon” and “point” in the park. Rim Trail from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point to Inspiration Point is a popular hike. Inspiration Point sits at an elevation of 8100 feet.

View from Inspiration Point

Continuing along the road, stop at all of the pull outs (there are at least 14 of them) for different views and formations. As far as we know, there is nothing else in the world like Bryce Canyon, and you will want to see it all. Outstanding photo ops at every stop! Here are a few of ours:




There is a wonderful picnic area and overlook at Rainbow Point, which is the last stop on the park road. Rainbow Point sits at an elevation of 9100 feet. Travel tip: dress in layers, as temperatures in the higher elevations may be much cooler than at lower elevations.

View from Rainbow Point

Click the website link at the top of the page for details about hiking in Bryce Canyon. We liked the Mossy Cave Trail. The trailhead is on Highway 12 east of the park entrance. The trail runs along a shallow stream to a small waterfall. There is no shade on this trail, so come prepared if the weather is hot.

Along Mossy Cave Trail
Waterfall at Mossy Cave Trail


⇒Side trip: Kodachrome Basin State Park. Take Highway 12 toward Tropic, Utah, and then Cannonville, Utah, and follow the road to the park. Drive time: between Bryce Canyon and Kodachrome Basin: 30 minutes.

  • Cost: $8.00 per vehicle
  • RV and tent camping available
  • Bunkhouses available

Drive through the park on paved and unpaved roads for views of the rock formations, or get up close and personal with the park’s features by hiking the easy trails.



Above and below: spectacular scenery at Kodachrome Basin State Park.
Some believe that the tower or pinnacle formations, such as the one above, are ancient thermal features, or parts of ancient springs, or geysers, perhaps. Whatever they are, they are interesting formations that probably can’t be seen anywhere else.

View from Highway 12 near Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

When leaving Kodachrome Basin or Bryce Canyon, take Highway 12 east toward Escalante, Utah and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Travel tip: Use extreme caution on Highway 12 through Grand Staircase-Escalante. There are twists, turns, and high points on the two lane road with no guardrails in some places. The scenery is spectacular and very worth the road trip. Continue north to Highway 24 east and Capitol Reef National Park or,

Take Highway 12 west back toward Panguich and then north on Highway 89 to Highway 20 west to I-15 and back to Salt Lake City.

Bryce Canyon is one of the parks that everyone should get to experience. We hope that you enjoy your visit there as much as we enjoyed ours. Please drop us a note below and tell us about your trip to Bryce Canyon, or any other trip, for that matter. We would love to hear from you.

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

Mike and Kellye


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.