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Trip Report Thoughts and memories of our 9/09 trip-GTNP,Yellowstone,Thermopolis

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I read through many trip reports and advice on Fodors and TA prior to the trip, and now here is my contribution. I'll start by saying we found this area of the country to be more beautiful than even expected from pictures we had seen. We were also blessed with blue skies for most of the trip. I was surprised by how strong the sun is-- definitely bring sunscreen and a hat!

Jackson- we arrived by plane at 7:30pm, and just needed a place to crash for the night--Motel 6 in Jackson for $80+tax fit the bill and the budget. There was also an Albertson's nearby to stock up on water and snacks the next a.m.

GTNP- We could not be bored by the Grand Teton mt. views. Highlights were taking the shuttle boat across Jenny Lake and walking the trails to Hidden Falls and Inspiration pt (even past Inspiratio Pt. to the "true" Inspiration pt, worth the extra uphill hike). We also enjoyed one morning, walking the Colter Bay nature trail through the woods and along the lake-- saw deer feeding, and it was so quiet and peaceful, and such lovely views of the mountains over the lake. We stayed at Colter Bay Cabins and ate dinner at the restaurant there-- a departing guest recommended the salmon , and he was right! It was one of my favorite dishes of the trip.

Yellowstone- We spent 2 nights in Grant Village and 2 nights in Gardiner at Travelodge. We had a geyser intro at West Thumb Geyser basin and walked up the Lake Overlook trail-- its true, if you want to get away from people, just start out on a trail and the volume will drop significantly.

Another day was spent in the Old Faithful and geyser basins area-- I was fascinated by the geysers and colorful pools. More so than my husband. We took "geyser breaks" by walking the Mystic Falls trail at Biscuit Basin and driving thru Firehole Canyon road--there is a swimming area at end of road, but water was chilly to me. My husband wanted to skip our last stop at Black Sand Basin, but glad we did not, as we saw got to see our first group of bison there, and got to watch them gallop? (how do you call how a bison moves) over toward the water and cross to the parking lot.

Most of the next day was devoted to Canyon, of all the falls viewpoints, Artist Point was the most beautiful in my opinion. We also walked the million or so stairs(or at least that's how it feels on the way back up) of Uncle Tom's Trail, which gets you up closer to the falls, and also on the N.Rim, we walked down to the Brink of the lower falls (no stairs, but steep switchbacks). After that, we felt like we saw the falls right/left, up/down, near/far. On the way to Gardiner we stopped to see Tower Fall (which unfortunately for it, paled in comparison to the rest of the day's scenery).

The next morning was devoted to hiking up Mt Washburn trail. We did it from Chittenden Rd. I felt conditioned from previous days up/down trails.The ascent to me felt like a gradual,steady uphill, it took 1hr 45min for us to reach top, with rest and photo breaks,and 1 hr to go down. Views of the entire park are before you once you are up there. Did not encounter any wildlife except for on the top there was a very aggressive chipmunk, we were not even eating, and it jumped right into my husband's lap.

In the pm, we explored Mammoth hot springs-- the previous day we drove thru on way to hotel, and did not see any elk, today there was herd "picnicking" in the picnic area. After we went to explore the terraces, they had moved across the street and were grazing and meandering around the restrooms and near the first terrace, the bull elk was spectacular with his bugling and herding.
In Gardiner I had my other favorite meal, a juicy steak at Yellowstone Mine restaurant.

The next day we exited the park via Lamar Valley (saw a coyote and large bison herd) and the NE entrance, drove part of the Beartooth Hiway and then the Chief Joseph hiway on way to Thermopolis. Very scenic mt. views. Thermopolis was a nice way to relax after days of walking- Hot Springs Park was quite pleasant, has Mammoth Springs-like features and a swinging bridge, at Tepee pools we swam in the mineral pools (no chlorine!), and the dinosaur center is also a well-done museum.

Back to Jackson via a road that went thru Dubois, the road between Dubois and Moran is under construction, it was showery that day, and road was muddy, and we spent about an hour between waiting and slowly following pilot car to go about 2miles. This was worse than what we encountered on the road construction between GTNP and Yellowstone. Stayed in Jackson at Ranch Inn in Town Square, we arrived in the afternoon, so had time to explore the Town Square area, the visitor center had some nice wildlife displays.

We thouroughly enjoyed this trip, the scenic beauty will stay with me forever, definitely a place I will try to get to again!

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