So. This summer I took a very memorable trip with dear friends to visit a number of fantastic parks in Wyoming and the Dakotas.
The first surprise was Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. As it’s one of the parks people might casually spend a few hours at on the way to or from other, well-known parks like Glacier or Yellowstone, I can see why some might overlook this unit. They would be making a mistake. Rich with colorful badlands, windy vistas and truly breathtaking river views, it’s just beautiful.
Of course, the principal destination was Yellowstone, and it didn’t disappoint. Certainly, the First National Park presents a formidable lineup of features… geysers, mud pots, canyons, waterfalls, mountains… it’s all there. We also, through the invaluable advice of my friend Dan Keifer, made a point of staying inside the park for the six days we were there. This meant overnighting at historic lodges like the Old Faithful Inn, cabins at Roosevelt Lodge and Lake Village, and more modern accommodations at Grant Village. I wouldn’t do it any other way.
It’s difficult to say what one likes the most about Yellowstone. For me, it probably has something to do with water, whether bubbling up in a spring, exploding from a geyser or falling 300 feet over Yellowstone Falls. For others, the abundant wildlife, wide-open skies, quiet mountain hikes or milky way night skies are all competing for your attention.
We also took a day to visit Grand Teton NP, another gem just a short drive south of Yellowstone. Had an absolutely fantastic hike up to a place called Inspiration Point, looking out over Jenny Lake. We visited in mid-June, which turned out to be the sweet spot in terms of awesome weather, waterfalls at maximum flow and relatively manageable crowds.
Here’s a clip of that surging water… Cascade Creek, it’s called. Some creek.
On the way back we stopped by Badlands NP in South Dakota, as well as Devil’s Tower, but those were return visits for me, so they didn’t count towards trimming down the National Park unit count. You can find a lot more images from our trip by looking on Instagram and using the NPSCircleTour17 hashtag. There are some really lovely wildlife shots by my friend Eric.