Now that it seems like everyone and their brother are going to national parks, I thought I’d share my experience and tips for a Yellowstone National Park Vacation. Unfortunately, we went at the height of the pandemic, so masks were still necessary. However, it seems that restrictions have been relaxed, so it’s a perfect time to join the crowds and enjoy the beauty of Yellowstone.
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I’m not going to lie; this wasn’t my first choice. After a challenging year of teaching, leaving the stress behind and laying on the beach with my family at the IBEROSTAR SELECTION PARAÍSO LINDO was all I could think about. We had talked about this vacation all year! Planning excursions to Chichen Itza and other adventures are what helped me make it through the school year. The day we had to cancel, I cried and then sat by our neighborhood pool, trying to imagine I was somewhere tropical. It didn’t work. The lazy river and wave pool at the resort looked amazing! Hopefully, we will make it there soon.
This is what we did instead. I’m glad we did because our Yellowstone National Park vacation turned out to be a beautiful and peaceful time with my favorite people. It was a wonderful family vacation.
Finding a place to stay near Yellowstone was difficult
We rented a house through VRBO. The house we found was in Driggs, ID. Consequently, it was the only rental home left in Idaho or Wyoming for the weekend we chose. The drive was exciting as we had no idea where we would wind up. This gem that we found out in the middle of nowhere turned out to be perfect for our family.
Although it was an hour from the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park and about 45 minutes from Jackson Hole and the Tetons entrance, it made for the ideal home base for our Yellowstone vacation. The boys loved playing Wiffle Ball on the property, running around, and reading. I always recommend bringing activities to play when you stay at a VRBO with boys. We like Kan Jam and have had hours and hours of fun with Lazer Tag. The parents appreciated the view and lack of responsibilities. The gorgeous location provided us some much-needed peace and rest.
We began our Yellowstone National Park vacation with some shocking news
Our trip did not begin peacefully. On the way out of town, we stopped at our local Cabela’s to pick up some bear spray… you know… since we would prefer not to get eaten by grizzlies. We were told that you absolutely should NOT go to Yellowstone or the Tetons without it. Because I am always prepared for the worst-case scenario, I didn’t even want to enter Idaho without it… just in case. What if we stop at a gas station for a bathroom break? I do not want to get mauled by a bear!
So, Loren ran to Cabellas to purchase some of this necessity, only to learn that ALL BEAR SPRAY HAD BEEN RECALLED THAT MORNING!!! What? All Bear Spray? They did not explain. An empty display wall where all the LIFE-SAVING BEAR SPRAY used to be was the only proof of his claim. They told us it was a nationwide recall, so maybe we should try to find a small mom and pop shop that hasn’t pulled it off their shelves yet.
I looked online and couldn’t find any information on the recall. I think they may have been punking us! I did learn a valuable lesson. If you are going to grizzly bear country, order your bear spray from Amazon BEFORE YOU GO! Counter Assault Bear Spray is the brand that has the farthest spray on the market. I want to stay as far away as possible.
Excuse me, What?
To top it off, The National Park Service had just issued a hilarious facebook warning telling us not to push down a slower friend to get away from a bear. So WHAT OTHER OPTION DO WE HAVE? Well, since bringing along a sacrificial friend was no longer an option (and since I am pretty sure that I am the weakest link anyway), we definitely NEED to carry some bear spray!
At this point, I am trying not to freak out in front of our kids! I quickly texted a friend about my predicament so that she could freak out with me. Friends who will freak out with me are necessary because my husband and kids were way too calm. Surely they did not recognize the actual danger we were going to encounter the second we crossed over into Idaho.
Luckily for me, we made it to our rental house without a single bear incident. Upon arrival, we put away groceries, made dinner, and discovered that the previous guests had left their Counter Assault bear spray for us. Thank you to whoever you are; I would hug you if I could. With the bear spray nearby, just in case, I was able to sleep. We were in Idaho, after all. We headed to bed early to prepare for our day in Yellowstone.
It turns out that pretty much everything in Yellowstone National Park wants to kill us!
Although this place is terrifying, it is also absolutely breathtaking. The hot pools were incredible. The only thing I knew about Yellowstone was that it is a supervolcano that can blow at any moment (I read the Facebook articles, and the past couple of years have been “unprecedented” … so…). Old Faithful is a pretty popular sight. But I was not expecting the beauty of the hot pools.
Old Faithful was a sight to see on our Yellowstone family vacation
Next, we headed to Old Faithful, which my son referred to as “Old Reliable” the entire day. Thirty minutes before Old Faithful’s predicted go time, we arrived at the seating area. Loren saved us a spot while the boys and I went for ice cream.
Our most celebrated moment of the day was when we were past the expected time for Old Reliable, and Loren started counting down. He started at five, and by the time he got to three, something started happening. When he said ONE, Old Faithful shot up to the sky. It was the perfect moment. The kids’ excitement was like a YouTuber yelling as they played Fortnite; only we were outside in nature. I call that a win!
After that, we continued to see some more sights. We stopped at the Continental Divide and then headed on to Inspiration Point. The lily pads at the Continental Divide were a highlight for me. It was how I imagine a fairy tale should look. Inspiration Point also had spectacular views.
We ended our journey at Yellowstone Lake where we had a picnic and the boys had a blast skipping rocks. This may have been the highlight for the youngest. He is a pro at rock skipping!
It turned out to be a wonderful Yellowstone Family Vacation
I’m happy to tell you that we made it back to the house without incident. We had to wait on some buffalo to cross the road, but we did not encounter any grizzlies or wolves, and the ground did not swallow us up. It was a great day.
I enjoyed seeing all of the interesting geological sights. I had no idea that these things even existed. The hydrothermal features that were everywhere we went reminded us that we were walking around on a supervolcano. There is so much more to Yellowstone than just Old Faithful. The ground literally bubbles in places and creates beautiful and stinky features. I am grateful that I was able to have such a wonderful experience with my family during this crazy time in our world.
On to the next park
We also went to the Grand Tetons on this same trip, where I found the most beautiful lake I have ever seen. Fortunately for us, bears didn’t try to attack us… not even once. Upon returning home, stand up paddleboards were ordered because of it! Please share any survival tips you may have for staying alive out in the wild. I always think I love the outdoors, but actually… nature kind of terrifies me! Next time we go on an adventure like this one, I will be prepared and try not to freak out.