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Ultimate Road Trip With Kids – Yellowstone National Park

    Yellowstone National Park – Day One

    We chose to see the highlight first, no need to save the best for last! We drove into Yellowstone through the west entrance and headed south to see Old Faithful. There was plenty to stop and see on the way.

    Paint pots, mud pots, geysers, and fumaroles; the kids are now very knowledgeable about these hydrothermal features. Four out of the 5 became junior rangers! They learned about how the colors at the hot springs indicate how hot the water is. Dax was for certain we were all going to melt. It was hilarious – “mom, what if I fall in – what if I throw a pencil in- what if I throw metal in – what if a buffalo falls in?” Good conversations.

    A friend had told me that there was a hike right past grand prismatic (the big colorful spring) that gave an awesome view. The view at the stop (on the boardwalk) is at eye level and mostly very smoky. So the kids got an idea of what it looked like but I wanted to do the hike to get a better view. All the kids were sort of unenthusiastic as we had JUST seen it – why are we going to hike to see it again???

    But I enticed them with snacks in the backpack that we could enjoy once we got there. The first ½ mile was flat and easy and the last part was a vertical hike up an unpaved, uncleared, and very risky path. The people walking down told us it was a straight up and down hike but it was just about one minute to the top and the view was amazing. We (I) decided we would try – Luke (the biggest complainer) got to the top first and screamed: “THIS IS AMAZING!” It really was. We had a bird’s eye view and could see all the colors. Well worth it, the problem was when we tried to go down. LOL

    Here is a picture taken from the boardwalk.


    And this is the picture I took from the top of the hike.


    We got to Old Faithful and we had about 35 minutes until the next eruption which is timed to plus or minus 10 minutes. We visited the ice cream shop and sat to wait – and I am dead serious, I thought it was going to be the day that that faithful geyser stopped erupting.


    It was not on time or 10 minutes early – it was 15 minutes late. So 5 minutes past the “faithful” time it was supposed to erupt. It was fun to see but I must say we also happened upon Beehive Geyser – with no wait and just by chance- and it was way cooler to the kids. Oh, well.


    At this point, Lily decided that it would be a great “need” to complete another Junior Ranger Program that they offer at Yellowstone. This one is more science-based and we got to check out a backpack with a laser thermometer, magnifying class, rock samples, and other science-y stuff. The booklet cost $5 this time but to check out the backpack was free (as long as we returned it) and Lily learned a lot more about the scientific method, and then set out to prove her hypotheses that Yellowstone is an active volcano. The boys were also unexcited about this. (Schoolwork? – but we are on vacation!!) So they stayed for another viewing of Old Faithful while I went to go meet Scott and the littles to complete this project.

    We saw several more geysers, a rotting buffalo corpse, and some beavers/otters/muskrats/wolverines that no one could quite identify. (Ok – so we are obviously not super science-y yet).

    We came back “home” and had a rousing game of UNO before I sent all the people to bed.  We rented a cabin outside of the west entrance of the park in West Yellowstone – clever, yes?  Located at Madison Arm Resort on Lake Hebgen and about 20 minutes to the park entrance.  We stayed in this cabin 13 years (and four kids) ago. It was a lot more spacious then but is sufficient for the seven of us.  The cabin had a living room/dining room, a full kitchen, and a full bathroom.  It had one full bedroom and a loft bedroom that slept four.   There was plenty of space to do a variety of outside activities and the kids enjoyed kayaking, canoeing, and the s’mores around the campfire on the patio at night.  The staff was wonderfully friendly and very helpful.


    Yellowstone National Park – Day Two

    The next day, we headed to the park and got stuck in a traffic jam for about 45 minutes. We were all joking around saying that to be worth it – the jam would have to be a grizzly bear AND a black bear eating an elk with a wolf fighting off a Bigfoot in the background. Unfortunately, it was not that. It was a buffalo. On a side note, the kids have seen so many buffalo that they are now like cows in Iowa, no one even cares anymore LOL.

    We stopped for lunch and made snowmen and had snowball fights, on June 13th!


    Then off to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. We saw both the upper and lower falls – they were beautiful. There were even rainbows all of this made it an amazing day. We hiked down 600 feet in elevation from the parking lot to the falls. We debated as the hike back up sounded rough but we did it and no one even needed carrying on the way back up!




    Grace earned her Junior Ranger patch and Lily turned in her science workbook to earn her Junior Science Ranger badge. We then decided to take the long way around the park back to our camp. It was quite a good move as during this drive we saw a mama black bear and her 3 cubs, a mule deer, cranes, osprey, baby mountain goats, elk, pronghorn, and the mother of all scenes which almost paralleled what we were imaging that morning. TWO grizzlies fighting a wolf for the carcass of an elk while a coyote skirted the outside! We could not believe the scene!


    It all ended with a bit of terror when Grace got too close. 🙂 But we all got away safely.


    The kids were thrilled with all the animal sightings and love Yellowstone. We were off to Glacier the next day. It had some big shoes to fill!


    Related posts:

    Ultimate Road Trip 2014


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    Terri L

    Terri has been married to her best friend, Scott, for 20 years and together they have 5 children. She has been blessed to be able to be a SAHM since her first was born over 14 years ago. In addition to finding new and creative ways to entertain 5 children, she enjoys date nights with her husband, photography, reading, and traveling with her crew.