Yellowstone is an amazing place. The park is incredibly large, so there’s no way that I could cover everything in one post. There are entire books written about Yellowstone. So I’m only going to talk about what we did while in Yellowstone. Since we had kids with us and it took us about 2 hours to get there everytime we went, we only went twice and we didn’t stay for an extended period of time. We did however hit the big spots – Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
The kids really enjoyed both spots. Every night we ask our kids what their favorite part of the day is. And on the Yellowstone days, it was seeing Old Faithful and the hike to the waterfall in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (Uncle Tom’s Trail).
We got to Yellowstone about 10 – 15 minutes before the predicted next time Old Faithful was going to erupt. That made for a nice start of the Yellowstone day. We also always tried to get on the road early to avoid crowds (we left before 6 AM on the Yellowstone days so we got to the sites around 8 AM). The Old Faithful day, the kids worked on the Young Scientist program which I discussed in a previous post. We also went a little north of Old Faithful as the crowds started to pour in. And we went wading in a stream off the side of the road where there was a picnic area. We had wanted to go swimming in Firehole River which is a thermal hot spot, but it was closed off.
Our second day, we went up to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The views on the trip up from the South entrance are beautiful. You pass by lakes and Lamar Valley (one of my favorite landscapes in Yellowstone – pictures don’t do it justice). We hiked down Uncle Tom’s Trail (328 steps down into the Canyon). I was so impressed that my boys did it and loved it. At the bottom of the trail, you get a great view of Lower Falls. If you don’t want to do the hike, but you want to see the Falls, head down to Artist View. A viewing point is only about 200 feet (or less) from the parking area and it’s pretty flat to get there (i.e. you don’t have to hike down the canyon). We also had a picnic near a field north of the Canyon Visitor Center. The boys finished up their Yellowstone Junior Ranger program and got sworn in at the Visitor Center.
One suggestion if you have to take kids on long car rides to locations. Get books on tape for them. I can download books on tape from our local library onto an MP3 player. I downloaded several books I knew the kids would like (Cam Jansen, Geronimo Stilton, and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM). They absolutely loved it and we got a nice quiet ride! A lot of MP3 players won’t play WMA Protected files, which is what most library downloads are. If you want to do this, make sure yours does play them. I actually got an MP3 player specifically for books on tape. We have the Sandisk Sansa.
Lower Falls and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (taken from Artist’s View)