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Trip Report Trip Report: West Yellowstone and Environs with Kids and Grandparents

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Just wanted to share a few tips from a recent trip around the Solar Eclipse, which we saw from Rexburg, Idaho. I was traveling in a part of 6 people, with two people in their early 40s, grandparents in their early 70s (with some issues around mobility and knees), and two kids aged 6 and 9.

We flew into Bozeman and stayed in the Mountain View Lodge and Suites, to make it easy with our different arrival times. It's just 10 minutes from the airport, nothing special, only decent beds, but super easy for coming and going. They also have an indoor pool, which the kids liked after long trips, and make your own waffles and pancakes at breakfast. Bonus: there were ground squirrels that looked like prairie dogs all over, so the kids felt like they'd arrived somewhere really different (from the coasts) even though it was really just a motel...

Bozeman itself is lovely and small. We had dinner at Ted's Montana Grill, which, although part of a chain, was in a great old building with a tiny ice cream and chocolate place in the lobby, and delicious food in a totally family-friendly setting. Before heading towards the park, we got a cooler and stocked up at the Bozeman Co-Op, which is the closest thing to Whole Foods, and was a lifesaver in terms of having snacks and breakfast things and lunches, without having to wait in lines for mediocre stuff in the park or elsewhere: https://www.bozo.coop/

In Idaho, we stayed in a 3-bedroom cabin at the Pines at Island Park, which I'd highly recommend. It was incredibly comfy, great beds and bedding, a mix of sleeping options, and the Philips Lodge onsite is great for dinner one night. The kids saw a moose just down the road from the cabins, and it's a lovely midway point just 30 mins south from West Yellowstone and north of the Upper Mesa Falls and scenic byways, as well as Harriman State Park and parts of the rivers.

http://www.pinesislandpark.com/cabins.html

The Upper Mesa Falls is an easy boardwalk to see beautiful waterfalls (there are a lot of stairs, though for older folks) and a nice little information / discovery center with an awesome set of animal furs and teeth and skulls in the back, as well as info on geology and huckleberry products.

We had a picnic at the Eagle Ridge Ranch and did a trail ride as part of the Cowboy Cookout (3 of us rode and 3 didn't), and the kids loved catching frogs and toads in the little pond on the property, as well as paddling around in a canoe. We did hear that there were leeches in the pond, so we didn't end up swimming, but it was a great spot for adventure and the trail ride was stunning. The dinner was also delicious, and a great value for the price.

https://eagleridgeranch.com/

The whole Old Faithful loop was terrific, and much is written about what to do in the park elsewhere, so my only tip is to have picnic food with you and make a dinner reservation at the Old Faithful Inn. The food is only mediocre, not great, but the lodge itself is just so breath-taking, and watching an eruption from the viewing deck on the second floor is totally worth it.

We went into the Grand Tetons after the eclipse and happened on some amazing wild elk herds, and we drove through the Discovery Center at Moose, which also had amazing furs and antlers you could pick up to see how heavy they are - which is INCREDIBLE with kids. But traffic was a nightmare. We managed a last minute reservation for dinner in Jackson at the Gun Barrel Steakhouse, which has beautiful taxidermy and things on the walls, and the food is delicious. I highly recommend it if you're a food or want somewhere amazing with a family - don't be thrown by the fact that it looks like it might be in a mall parking lot.

http://jackson.gunbarrel.com/

Our final night, we had dinner in the outdoor part of the Emerson Grill, which is attached to the lovely artists gallery and community center just off the main street in Bozeman. The outdoor seating, which is a mix of tables and picnic tables, was the perfect thing. Fantastic upscale Italian, but pizza for the kiddos. And great wine and desserts.

http://emersongrill.com/

There's so much to do in the area, but a little planning goes a LONG way to make sure everyone has their needs met. Enjoy! And hope this is helpful!

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