So my go to first suggestion to anyone and everyone who asks where I suggest is always and will always be a national park. This one is almost too difficult to include in this list because there are sixty-three of them. Now I haven't been to all of them but the ones I have been to have all been mind blowing and beautiful in their own ways. When in doubt, just visit a national park. You seriously can't go wrong. Each park offers breathe taking views, hiking, rafting, wild animals to view and history. Think about this, there was a reason the US set aside each of these parks. Each were so special of a land that they were declared national parks to preserve for generations to enjoy. I myself, plan on hitting three more this Spring.
So we need to start somewhere, how about the first national park Yellowstone. Yellowstone is the king of all the national parks. To describe Yellowstone to someone is like trying to describe what an animal is. There are so many different parts of the park to just say, it is like this or that. I usually try to describe it to someone as saying it is like stepping into several different worlds in my park. You go from driving past the rolling plains filled with bison and beautiful mountains and lakes to boiling colorful geysers. The sulfate smells will sting your nose. The mountains hold numerous breath taking waterfalls. The wildlife is plentyful. I can't even tell you which part of the park I enjoy most. This park seems to be accessible to many Americans from anywhere within the US. Added bonus, when visiting Yellowstone you will also end up visting Grand Teton National Park because the two are sister parks. Double whammy for your trip.
Now it has been several years since I have visited Yellowstone, but even after visting several other parks this one still remains at the top of my list of favorite parks.
I have camped within the park at three different campgrounds during my visits. My least favorite was the RV park which offered power hookups. The price to pay for the power hookups was not being able to have a fire and being stacked one on top of another in a small area. When I return, we will not be staying at the RV park. I enjoy a late night fire more than running the A/C. Since we are usually gone most of the day anyways, a generator would be more than sufficient to give us the desired power we would need during the evening hours before bedtime.
Did I speak of bison? At first you will be in awe of their majestic size and stature. After several days of watching them standing in the middle of the roads and holding up traffic, you will still be in awe but ready to avoid them at all costs. I swear they know what they are doing and they do it on purpose. I swear! I find it comical and quite enjoy a bison traffic jam here and there in my life.
Bears will be hard to see. Feel lucky if you get the chance to watch one. I remember standing on the road as a group of visitors took off across a field to get a closer look. A ranger crowed up in the blink of an eye and yelled "you have three seconds to get back to the road or I write tickets." No one moved, so he yelled "one, two,...." everyone magically was back to the road. I think that may be one of my favorite moments ever in Yellowstone. I know a good majority of the bears wear trackers. If a bear is close to a place heavily populated by humans,, rangers will be close by.. Every moose I have saw was in the sister park of Grand Teton. It is on my to do list to sit all evening in the valleys next trip and hopefully see wolves. Elk will be plentiful and almost impossible not to see. I know there are numerous other animals within the park but the ones I listed are the ones we like to see.
One thing about going to national parks that turns off many people is the amount of walking you will do. The hiking is endless! Can you visit without hiking? Absolutely! You will be stuck to the main roads and possibly in traffic. This is not a terrible trip though. I've done it and don't regret anything. As my family has gotten older, we now venture out on day hikes and experience the parks more.
There is a mile hike that leads you to where a cold river and hot spring meet. The park has assembled a rock wall that forms a natural hot tub. Spending an afternoon soaking in the hot tub is relaxing, even if you are sharing it with fifty other people.
So not going to lie, seeing Old Faithful was on my bucket list. The area where this beast is located is very well developed and usually heavily crowed. If you visit Yellowstone, you must plan to spend an afternoon in the Old Faithful area watching of course, Old Faithful and walking along the boardwalk admiring the colorful geysers. Even when fighting for a place to sit this is definitely something to see. The yellow, green, red, blue, and orange colors will amaze you. How does nature make something so beautiful but so deadly. I love this area and highly recommend a full afternoon in the area. You will takes a hundred pictures here. Then whe. You look back, you will feel like no picture could truly capture the true beauty of the area.
I can honestly say I have done about type of vacation you can think of; crusing, camping, theme parks, tourist traps you name it. After twenty years of traveling with my own children and watching others, let me say that children vacationing in national parks are just as happy if not happier than kids at other places. They are outside, riding bikes, hiking, riding horses, seeing amazing animals and sites. My children don't talk about the amusement parks, tourist traps but rather their strongest memories are from the amazing sites viewed and visited in the national parks over the years.
I plan on updating this particular blog when I revisit Yellowstone here in the next few years. It has been some time since our last visit. I will add more up to date information and pictures.
Happy traveling, can't wait to write about my next destination next week.