Cross Country Road Trip Leg 7: National Parks!!

This was the leg I was looking forward to the most, and one of my biggest reasons for doing the cross-country drive in the first place–Yellowstone! Mister M had never been (I’ve been through I think three times? The last one was a half day on my 2005 cross-country drive), and I have this much nicer camera now, and who knows when we will next be able to visit this kind of natural wonder.

So we got up early, had breakfast (one of the best features of the Hampton Inn!) and headed out of Jackson toward the Grand Tetons.

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As you can see, there were a lot of low-lying clouds in the morning. We stopped by the first visitor center and looked around, got our National Parks passport stamp, and the clouds starting burning off. We stopped at several turnouts along the main road to gawk and take photos. We went to Jenny Lake and followed the little trail to the lakeshore.
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The clouds eventually all went away and we had this to see. So beautiful! Especially after the boring/barren landscape we’d been seeing for a week!
More driving north, and then, finally Yellowstone!
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Of course we started with Old Faithful. We arrived at the visitor center at 2.30, and the sign proclaimed its next eruption would be approximately 2.40, so our timing was perfect! We found a place to watch and waited for probably ten minutes or so until the steam finally became a tall spray. It was a really short one, timewise, though–I remember them lasting a lot longer. Regardless, it’s an impressive thing to see.
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Mineral Spring
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Grand Prismatic Spring–I hadn’t seen this one before. It’s the huge, multicolored one you always see in photos from above (like this), and it’s so huge you can’t see most of it from ground level. You can see and hear the water bubbling and there are huge gusts of steam that race off the surface.
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Otherwordly trees
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Fountain Paint Pots was our next stop. The bubbling and popping is so neat!
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Our last stop was the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone Grand Canyon.
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Just before that, we saw this elk grazing near a parking lot.
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On the way out we saw a bison!
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We saw another one in a meadow too, and later I think I saw a bear further up this river, and then again further on, another bison and another elk grazing in a meadow. Earlier in the day, two huge deer leapt across the road in front of us.
We exited the park around 8pm (after a 45 minute traffic jam, probably caused by those animals either crossing the road or causing the drivers to stop and gawk), which was later than we’d planned. But the time was so worth it!
We ate dinner in West Yellowstone, which is just over the Montana border.
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Then Mister M drove fast along the dark roads to Idaho Falls for the night.
It was the longest day we had, though it was the fewest number of miles, and it was definitely the most naturally fascinating!
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