After several days in South Dakota, it was time to head to our next state: Wyoming. Hubster was significantly less enthused about this portion of the trip, since he had been to different parts of Wyoming and been less than impressed. I was determined to show him how amazing this state could be.
Our first stop was Devil's Tower.
We arrived in the early morning, just after the sun came up and before there was anyone else there. With the cool temperatures, near complete quiet, walking through the Native American prayer flags up the the tower itself made for an almost spiritual moment.
And then our boys went screaming and yelling along the trail.
We didn't complete the entire trail about the base of the tower, but got a nice, small walk in. We finished up just as the crowds started showing up, so our timing couldn't have been better.
Our drive took us through Sheridan, over the Big Horn Mountains, and through Lovell. Throughout the drive through the mountains, I kept telling Hubster how beautiful everything was and didn't he just love the part of Wyoming.
And then we got to the other side of the mountains, and it was dry and flat and quite unimpressive. Hubster instantly got back on his "I hate Wyoming" kick. He kept saying the Yellowstone better be pretty impressive to make up for this part.
Well, we got into Yellowstone that evening, and even Hubster agreed that Yellowstone more than made up for any part of Wyoming he didn't like.
No matter how much we love each stop on our trips, each trip seems to have a main destination. This trip, that destination was definitely Yellowstone. Driving into the park and overlooking Yellowstone Lake, there was such a sense of adventure and wildness and we couldn't wait to get going.
Our first evening, we stopped at the mud volcanoes. I had tried to describe to the boys the smell of sulfur that came with the geothermal features of Yellowstone. Apparently, I hadn't done enough mental prep with them, because Monkey was in tears on how badly the mud volcanoes smelt. He wouldn't even finish the walk around them.
After that initial fiasco, we decided to do something more his speed: animal watching in Hayden Valley. Somehow we timed our drive through the valley perfectly and all the stars aligned, because we saw bison, elk, a grizzly (from quite far away), and a wolf!
We continued to make our way through the back up to our cabin by Mammoth Hot Springs. It was the cutest double cabin! I wish that we had been able to spend our whole time in Yellowstone at that cabin, but because it was one of the busiest times of the year, we had to split our time between two different cabins.
Our first full day in Yellowstone was focused on geothermal sites. Paint pots, hot springs, geysers, and everything else hot, boiling, and sulfur-y.
Monkey (mostly) got over his aversion to the smell, and actually started to enjoy the amazing colors and other-worldly landscape.
Our last stop of the day was the iconic Old Faithful! We passed the time waiting for the next eruption by eating ice cream and chasing Duck through the crowds.
Then, just as predicted, Old Faithful put on a magnificent show.
Our second day in the first National Park started with a quick tour of Mammoth Hot Springs.
After that, it was a day of canyons and water falls.
We even braved the hike down into Yellowstone Grand Canyon to the top of the Lower Falls. The scene was completely majestic and worth every step.
Along the way, we continued to wrack up the animal sitings, adding moose, a family of river otters, and several black bears (including one with two cubs!) to our list.
That night, we made our way to our next cabin next to Yellowstone Lake.
We had initially planned to spend the next day at the Grand Tetons, but we were so caught up in the fun and awe of Yellowstone, we decided to spend a third, slower paced day in the park.
The boys spent hours throwing rocks into the Lake.
We drove again through Hayden Valley, marveling at all the wildlife and huge herds of bison, (adding a mule deer buck and a coyote to our sitings.)
A large storm came through in the afternoon, bringing hail and lightening, so our last evening was spent snuggling in our little yellow cabin, playing card games and reading stories.
It is worth mentioning that during our entire time at Yellowstone, we had no cell phone service. We were completely off the grid for 3 entire days. At first, it was anxiety producing and such an odd feeling. But I was actually grateful for the break from technology to just enjoy the beauty and wildness of Yellowstone National Park.