For President’s Day, we decided to take advantage of the days off school to explore Zion National Park a little bit. We were hoping southern Utah would give us beautiful weather and gorgeous views.
Unfortunately, the further south we drove, the worse the weather got. We ended up driving through a blizzard, but finally made it to Zion in one piece.
The weather was too rainy for hiking, so we drove around a bit to take in the mountains.
The only other thing we could do was head to our hotel and enjoy the indoor pool. The kids loved having the pool almost to themselves.
After swimming we got all tucked into our beds and fell right to sleep. Unfortunately Madison didn’t STAY tucked into her bed. She fell out of the bed at least a half dozen times and I had to keep putting her back. Silly girl.
The next day was everything we hoped for! The weather was perfect. The skies were blue. Zion was ready to be explored.
We hiked Canyon Overlook Trail first. That was a nice, easy hike and Madison loved being able to scamper on rocks.
Vacationing with a teenager can be…challenging. We’re never quite sure what mood our resident teen will grace us with each day. Luckily finding a cactus was just the diversion Brooke needed to keep her mind busy and happy as she hiked.
We made it to the overlook!
I had been warning people to watch out for puddles and ended up stepping in one myself. Brooke thought that was hilarious, so she made me reenact the scene.
We planned to catch the shuttle to take it further up the canyon, but we didn’t get a spot. We decided to hike Watchman Trail instead. This was a three-mile hike. The kids’ legs were already tired from the first hike, so there was a bit more grumbling this time around, but we all hiked to the top, enjoyed the view, and made it back down in one piece.
After their long day hiking, the kids were itching to get back into the hotel pool for another evening of swimming.
The next day was our last day at Zion, so we had to be sure to get a picture by the sign:
We drove through Kolob Canyon and were amazed at the beauty of the snow-flecked mountains.
We had a great family getaway!
All of this quarantining business left us with a need to get away from our house and have a change of scenery! My friend told me she just returned from Yellowstone and it was a great time to visit because it was less crowded than usual. I had never been to Yellowstone. Dallas and I did a little research, realized we had three completely empty days on the calendar that next week, and behold! A family vacation was born.
We packed up and headed out. Our first pit stop demanded a photo:
The drive was so fast and easy, and before we knew it, we were in West Yellowstone. We enjoyed this sign:
until finally…she erupted!
We decided to walk the boardwalk around Old Faithful. Caroline bit into a Starburst on the way and her loose tooth came right out mid-chew:
I loved this little hike. I’m not sure if it’s because it was the first thing we did, so everything was so new and amazing to see, but, well, everything was just so new and amazing to see! We loved looking at the geysers, trying to come up with our own names for them, and then running ahead to find the next wonder to behold.
Luckily for us, Old Faithful decided to erupt again about forty minutes before the predicted time, so we got to see another explosion from a less-crowded spot:
And we took turn-your-sister-into-a-rabbit pictures:
Then Brooke learned how to take creepy panoramic pictures and that kept her busy for the rest of the trip.
After Old Faithful we went to Black Sand Basin to see the geysers there. It was getting really stormy and we were afraid we were about to get dumped on. There was a nice rainbow geyser there that I liked.
We walked around quickly to see everything:
Then we ran to the car right before the heavens opened and rain, sleet, snow, and hail slammed down on us. It was a pretty impressive storm.
We were worried it would rain out the rest of our day, but before too long the rain cleared up and Madison spotted some elk. We stopped for a closer look.
We ate dinner at Lake Village and walked through a gift shop looking for treasures. None found.
Then we stopped at Mud Volcano and saw Dragon’s Mouth Spring which was a favorite. We loved the steam coming from the cave and the groaning noises that felt like a dragon did indeed live there.
On our way back to our hotel in West Yellowstone we stopped by the Artists Paintpots which was another favorite. We liked the white stew/soup spot that gurgled and bubbled and made us feel like an ogre lived beneath it.
At the hotel the kids loved playing with the old fashioned phone:
The next morning we decided to get up bright and early and drive out to Lamar Valley to look for wildlife. We saw lots of bison, elk, pronghorn, and birds.
We were mostly searching for a bear…and we found one!
After driving around Lamar Valley we went back to Mammoth Hot Springs for lunch.
We liked watching the elk that roamed through the little town. We explored the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. This was the hottest part of the hottest day that we were there and there were so. many. steps. so this wasn’t the most pleasant of all of our stops, but we made it through and this picture will give you the illusion that we all had smiles on our faces the whole time. I’m sure none of us complained one bit during this hike.
We found some rocks to climb:
We drove down to Norris and tried to stop, but that was the only place where we couldn’t immediately find parking, so we just continued on.
We went on to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. That was also beautiful. I loved how each part of Yellowstone was so different but so beautiful.
We loved the waterfall and did a couple different hikes to view it from different spots.
On our way back to the hotel, Dallas spied some cranes, so we stopped to look. (They’re behind Brooke right in front of the tree line.)
The next day was the day our kids were looking forward to the most – horseback riding day! We had to wait for our turn which gave the kids plenty of time to bond with the company’s pet dog:
And to walk on wood planks:
And to show off how Brooke can twist her leg in unnatural ways:
Finally we were able to hop on our horses and ride through the woods.
Brooke’s horse was a little stubborn, so her horse got roped up to the guide’s horse in front of her. This arrangement is important because it led to the highlight of Brooke’s vacation. The horse in front stopped to poop and somehow the rope got caught in the horse’s butt…? And the guide couldn’t get it out. So she had to call to the guide at the front of the line and ask if she had gloves. Which made that guide ask why she needed gloves. So the guide in the back had to say, “Because there’s a rope stuck in my horse’s butt and I can’t get it out. I’m going to need some help back here.” Which led to silence from the guide at the front until she said, “I was not expecting to hear that!”
Meanwhile Brooke giggled uncontrollably through the poor horse’s ordeal…and anytime afterward when she thinks about that story.
Luckily the guide was able to free the horse without compromising too much of his dignity and we were able to continue our ride.
Dallas’s horse also brought comic relief as he kept stopping to eat every chance he got and when he wasn’t eating, he was finding small trees to walk over to scratch his underside.
After horseback riding we were ready to head home. We decided to drive through Yellowstone and go home through the Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole. This gave us the perfect chance to take these pictures:
We stopped at the Grand Prismatic Spring on our way out. The pictures of this spring look so pretty, but unfortunately, from the boardwalk, you can’t really see it. I was sad about that. Next time we go to Yellowstone we’ll have to hike from above so we can look down on it and appreciate the colors.
Dallas was amused by this poster every time we saw it, so we had to do our own version.
(To be clear – Caroline wasn’t really off the boardwalk. Dallas just Photoshopped her there. We were good tourists and stayed on the path.)
Our trip to Yellowstone was just the diversion we needed to break up the monotony of having nothing to do because of COVID. Dallas and I are already dreaming of when we can go back.