As we approach the one-year anniversary of the pandemic lockdowns, many folks are spending more time at home than normal. Can anyone say “cabin fever”?! I can say this was certainly the case for me as I felt the itch to travel over this past summer – and so I did. With limited options given the current environment, I decided that a road trip through U.S. national parks was an excellent, socially distant, option. I was able to get the full experience camping out every night in each park. I do not have one ounce of regret.
My 10-day road trip spanned through three of the country’s most beautiful national parks: Grand Teton National Park (WY), Yellowstone National Park (ID/MT/WY), and Glacier National Park (MT). One park was more stunning than the next. Beginning in Grand Teton, the park is notorious for its magnificent range of mountain peaks. As with many beautiful sites, pictures simply do not do it justice. The peaks are accompanied by lush valleys full of vegetation and crystal-clear lakes throughout. Oh – and watch out for the grizzly bears because they are widespread throughout the park. Additionally, located in the valley near the national park is the wondrous city of Jackson Hole, Wyoming; known for its historic culture and natural beauty. I highly recommend stopping at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – the bar stools are cowboy saddles!
The second stop of the trip was vastly different but equally as mesmerizing: Yellowstone. Known for its famous geothermal pools, hot springs, and geysers (including Old Faithful), Yellowstone is quite a unique destination. Old Faithful erupts almost once an hour, every hour – over 100 feet in the air! The park is filled with countless geothermal pools and hot springs; some with temperatures up to almost 200° F (you can feel the intense heat coming off them!). Yellowstone is also filled with wildlife. In fact, just driving through two of the park’s largest valleys, Hayden and Lamar Valley, you will undoubtedly see hundreds of bison (as I did). Make sure to hover your foot over the break driving through, because the bison often stop in the middle of the road, causing a traffic halt until they decided to move along.
My last stop was Glacier National Park (my favorite of the three parks). This park is widely known for its… you guessed it, glaciers. Thousands of years old, the natural blue color of the water run-off from a glacier is simply amazing. The park is lined with tons of fresh flowing water, the clearest I have ever seen.
Glacier has a very diverse range of wildlife – from deer, to grizzly bears, to mountain goats. I came in very close contact with a mountain goat near the peak of a mountain – very fascinating.
Below I list some of the takeaways from my wonderful trip, or as I like to call them “the Lucci tips”:
- Do not leave food or odor-releasing items out in the open. They will attract bears. Each of the camp sites I stayed at had a “bear box”, a place to store all food and toiletry items.
- Always carry bear spray wherever you go and know how to use it. Grizzly and black bears are very prominent in this area of the country.
- You do not have to camp out in a tent when staying at the camp sites (like I did). There are cabins for comfortable, indoor, lodging.
- Take a ton of pictures – they will last you a lifetime!
If you plan on travelling to any of these three national parks and have any questions or are in search of recommendations – feel free to reach out!