Wyoming Family Vacation 2020
This post has been more than a month in the making. Sorry about that! Life has gotten in the way and because I have never done a vacation video before, it was a little daunting! Before we get to the video, I will go through what we did and try to answer as many questions as possible. If you just want to see the video, scroll down the bottom!
Let me start by saying, we have NEVER taken a vacation with just the five of us. Wait….what?! I know, I know. We are lucky to have amazing families and we always vacation with one family or another. Also, for many years I was a stay at home mom and the sacrifice for that was that our budget was pretty tight. I would 100% do that again and it was totally worth it, but we didn’t have the funds to be able to vacation as an immediate family.
Our oldest son just turned 17 so we only have a few years with him still at home, so we really wanted to take advantage of that! Yellowstone has been on our bucket list for a long time, so we decided to make it happen. It was a perfect choice with COVID as we didn’t have to fly and we were able to plan it at the last minute.
We ended up going at the end of June and hotels/campsites were tough to come by. The best deal I found was in Jackson, Wyoming so we went for it. We stayed at the 49er Inn. The room had 2 queens and a pull out couch. It was perfect for us. Having 5 in our family makes hotels a challenge as we have to get a suite or 2 rooms and that adds up fast. So this was the perfect fit. They also had a breakfast that was included. The breakfast wasn’t amazing and often picked over as some people would come and load up their bags for the day. A little annoying but not the fault of the hotel. They also had a pool (although the hot tub was shut down due to COVID).
COVID definitely affected the trip as a lot of places were shut down, had limited capacity, extra rules/cleaning or had shorter hours. However, we are pretty low maintenance and we didn’t really mind and we were always able to find some kind of food (even within the parks).
Our first day we headed out early and drove (about 8 hours) all the way to Jackson. The drive was beautiful and went by quickly! As we got closer to Jackson we were able to see the Great Tetons covered in clouds and it was gloriously cool. We walked around a bit, stretched our legs and were even able to see some moose on the drive into Jackson. Once we checked in, we went into town to walk around and grab some food. The town was moderately crowded and while (at the time) masks weren’t required every store required masks, hand sanitizer and were very limited on how many people they let in.
We decided that the next morning we would get an early start (6 am) so we turned in early after hitting the pool and playing some cards. We hit Old Faithful first and when we got there we all had to use the bathroom. We went in…..and when we came out 2 minutes later there was a line for the bathroom. We thought we had timed our bathroom trip perfectly until we realized it was the opposite. In the 2 minutes we were in the bathroom, we missed Old Faithful erupting. However, we spent the next 90 minutes hiking around and visiting the gift shops. It was actually quite nice and I think we might have missed that if we had seen Old Faithful when we first got there. So spend some time walking around and see the other geysers. After that we tried to see Grand Prismatic Basin but it looked crowded so we decided to drive for a bit. We took a few detours, saw some mud pots and we up to the upper portion of Yellowstone to the Mammoth Hot Springs (we didn’t even get out because everyone was tired). On the way back toward Jackson we stopped at the Grand Prismatic basin. It looked more crowded than it really was. The colors were amazing and it was worth the walk! Then we headed back to Jackson and got ice cream.
The second day we started by seeing Mormon Row. It is just outside of Grand Teton and is one of the most photographed places on earth. As a photographer, I really wanted to see it. Again, we got an early start and were there by 6:30 am and had the place to ourselves. Next we headed into Yellowstone and stopped at the Mud Volcanoes (also had Black Dragon Cauldron, Mud Geyser). The sign is small and unimpressive but we were SO GLAD we stopped. It was one of the “newer areas” that has popped up in the last 20-30 years or so. It was the stinkiest place we went but hands down the most underrated and was one of our favorite places! I would say it is a MUST SEE. From there we hit the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The over look is really cool. Then we decided to make the steep hike down to the lower observation area. It was a short hike (I think only 1/4 mile but 750 vertical feet) but NOT WORTH IT! It was really steep and honestly the view wasn’t any better from down there. So save yourself the hike and don’t feel bad about it. Then we went to the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Cool area near the Yellowstone Lake. From there we went to the Lake Butte Overlook. Very cool look at a burn area and then we stumbled upon a mama bear and her cub. Totally worth the drive. Then back to Jackson to watch the Hunger Games (as we had just finished the book).
The third day was rainy and cold. We hit the Tetons and decided to do some fishing. We found some little areas to pull off and tried to fish (it was tough with the rain and mud) and skipped rocks. It was relaxing and beautiful. After little luck with fishing we headed to the Jackson Lake Dam. Makai, Tanner and Chris did some fishing while Jameson and I did some hiking and exploring. A good time was had by all. Grand Teton is pretty small. If it wouldn’t have been raining we would have done a lot more hiking, but in all…one day was plenty in Grand Teton. Of course, we drove through Teton each day to get to Yellowstone so we got to see a lot of it (and it’s wildlife) each day.
The next day we slept in, walked around Jackson again and then headed home. It was an amazing trip and I would highly recommend it. Here are a few quick details for you.
Okay. I think I have said as much as I can. Let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer them. And for those of you who made it to the end….congratulations. As a reward, here is my vacation video. Most of these were iphone pics and video. Enjoy!