Day 3 Road trip: Gardiner – Yellowstone – Grand Teton – Jackson

Day 3 (Tuesday)

We started the day early from our hotel in Gardiner. The view wasn’t too bad, especially when we saw a lady elk across the street! We drove back towards Yellowstone, which was a little slow going as we got behind some large construction trucks. But we weren’t in that big of a hurry, so we just enjoyed the scenery.

As with the afternoon before, we passed back by Mammoth Hot Springs and Lewis Falls. Since we did the geysers the day before, day 3 we were focusing on Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and driving through Hayden Valley on our way to Grand Teton.

As we drove the Grand Loop, we took many of the side roads for views of the Grand Canyon, and various views of the falls.

As we were driving along, I spotted a bison on the opposite side of the road, but based on his stance, my gut said STOP he’s going to cross ….. and he did! So I immediately checked for safety and pulled over and waited, while taking a ton of photos. What an opportunity to see this amazing creature so close up. I was driving, so it pleased me to have to stop so I could catch some shots myself. My husband was equally amazed how close he was!

We took another road to Artist Point, and had opportunity for additional views of the falls, including Upper Falls which puts you at the top of it. Each view of the falls were equally awe inspiring and beautiful!

From here, we continued on the loop through Hayden Valley towards Yellowstone Lake. I will note again, that people will randomly stop to take pictures and many will be part way in the road which obviously is a pain and not safe, so use caution! But more opportunities to see bison and elk. At one point, we saw some folks stopped and my husband looked carefully out the window and thought he saw a bear’s behind in the trees. Other than that, no bear sightings for us but that’s ok. We had another opportunity for traffic to stop as not one, but two bison crossed the road – ah the excitement!

Beautiful scenery everywhere as we continued to drive. We continued on to Colter Bay Village, where we stopped for lunch and some photos of the Tetons from the Marina.

We headed down the road towards Jenny Lake, but our first stop was the long drive up Signal Mountain with a stop near the top for the Jackson Lake Overlook. Phew it was windy up top!! The Jackson Lake Overlook is not far from the top and there is a small parking lot, with a sign to take a trail 200 yards. If you continue a little further on the dirt trail, you’ll get an even better view! Then we continued up to the top for the amazing views of the valley below. The web looking picture is a caterpillar cocoon. They were in several of the bushes, we had never seen anything like this before. No judgement on the picture of me – the wind was howling on top of Signal Mountain so there was no controlling the hair lol.

Back on the road, we made a quick stop at Jenny Lake. I had read many wonderful things about it. We didn’t have time to hike, and it was getting late in the day so we took the quickest route to the water and again snapped a couple of pictures. Then it was back on the road again.

Last stop in Teton for the day was the Teton Glacier Outlook which is just a pull out with some parking spots. It’s not labeled, but it’s just a few miles from Jenny Lake, on the right side (as you’re headed for Jackson).

We ended our day in Jackson where we had our hotel booked. Grabbed a bite to eat at a nearby Mexican food restaurant that was within walking distance to our hotel. Then we called it a night to get an early start back into Teton.

Day 4 coming soon – Jackson to Grand Teton to Casper

Day 2 Road trip: Idaho Falls to Yellowstone and Gardiner, MT

I almost had this posted last night, but the hotel stopped me from uploading my pictures. So here is our Day 2 (Monday).
Spent the morning with our friends continuing to reminisce over coffee. We hit the road around 11:30 for the West Gate of Yellowstone. Traffic was not bad on the way, or at the gates which was a pleasant surprise.

It has been SO many years since my family went to Yellowstone when I was a child that I had forgotten how truly beautiful this place is. Ever changing landscape, beautiful views and wildlife can pop up anywhere!

Because we were entering through the West Gate, and based on our overnight accommodations for Day 2, we decided to focus on the geysers, springs, and whatever we could squeeze in before heading “home” for the day.

As you drive down through the area, you start to see steam coming out of the ground which means you know you’re on the right path! We made a couple of quick stops for photos at some smaller areas, then jockeyed for position along the side of the road (the parking lot was a madhouse) at Grand Prismatic Spring. Once parked, we walked down and along the river until we got to the bridge. It happened to be a VERY windy day, so as you crossed the bridge and started walking on the boardwalk around the springs here, the wind would shift and it would be all you could do to see. The smoke made you warm and humid and glad when the wind shifted again and you’d catch a small, cooler breeze! The boardwalk goes one way, in a loop to help with foot traffic congestion.

Once we completed the loop, it was back along the river to the car and on our way again. We made a couple more quick stops at some smaller areas, like Flood Geyser. Driving along the river, you can see some steam.

Then it was on to Old Faithful. We found the crowd! The parking lot was a madhouse, people dodging cars left and right. We did get lucky and got a spot right away without alot of driving up and down aisles. Once parked, we headed over to the geyser. Unfortunately we had just missed it, so it took about an hour of waiting in the warm sun (it was about 84 the day we were there) for it to go off. People were chatting, laughing, and at one point, as eruption neared, one end of the crowd started the wave! And at 4:43PM, there she went! The picture here is right as it started. I also have a video of some of it.

Some of my pictures are out of order, so I’ll post based on the order they’re in. As we drove around in between geysers/springs, please note to be very aware that as you get to a meadow, if there is wildlife, people will slam on their brakes, pull part way off the road and jump out right in front of you to see it, so use extreme caution!! But as we drove, we were fortunately to encounter some Bison and Elk close enough to get some decent photos. What an amazing thing to see such beautiful creatures in their natural habitat! We saw a bear butt, once, but that was all for bear, and unfortunately we did not see any moose. But the Bison and Elk made up for it in my opinion!

Once we were done at Old Faithful, we headed north. Note that if you plan to go to any major national parks, you should book your lodging as early as possible, and also note that prices will be much higher than a same named hotel in most other locations. Based on availability and price, we went North to Gardiner, Montana. The drive was a little slow as the road does wind, but the scenery is nice.

As we drove, we came across a turnout for Gibbon Falls so we stopped and admired the view and the falls for a few minutes before continuing on. Passing more lovely scenery on the winding road, we also came across Lewis Falls which were also lovely. We did not stop here though. Continuing on, you can see that the landscape changes to become rocky, and a few more miles up the road you will come to Mammoth Hot Springs. Due to time constraints, we did not stop here this trip, but I took a picture or two from the road. And right at the parking lot we came across more elk – we had to wait as one crossed the road.

Some of the drive to Gardiner, MT

Finally, we arrived in Gardiner and got checked into our hotel. We were quite hungry, and found a little place practically right across the street called The Corral. You walk up to the window and place your order then you wait for your food. Seating is all outdoors. I decided to be slightly adventurous and I tried the elk burger with bacon and cheese and all I can say is YUM! I was pleasantly surprised and would definitely have one again.

After dinner, we went for a walk as we had spotted the Yellowstone sign for the North entrance, and I also knew The Roosevelt arch was here. More pleasant surprises, a male and a female buck – right in town which made for excellent photo ops! It should not have to be said, but DO NOT get too close!!!

While walking back to our hotel, we crossed the river as the sun was setting and I was able to catch the last photo. All in all, a long, but very enjoyable day. Back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

Day 3 will be posted soon which was Gardiner to Yellowstone to Grand Teton to Jackson