Explore WY & MT {West Yellowstone}

From our campsite in Colter Bay we weren’t far from the south entrance to Yellowstone. We took a day to drive up and explore the southwest part of the park – mainly the geysers. The weather was bitterly cold, but it didn’t slow the boys down. The girls…well it slowed them down a bit, but they did great. I was too busy watching my kids react to Old Faithful to get a picture. Their faces and shouts were pretty awesome to witness.

Our youngest daughter completely shuts down when she gets cold. Literally, she falls asleep and doesn’t eat. She was born in warm southern China, so we joke that she goes into hibernation in the cold. She slept through the geysers. Yellowstone is an incredible trip for kids for so many reasons, but the vast diversity of nature all in that one park is one of the best parts. History and science come alive in such a fascinating way. I loved it!


I did place a bit of fear in my kids regarding staying on the path and not falling into a boiling hot spring. Of course, we ended up behind two teenage boys goofing off like they were falling in.6.14westyellowstone-3

We then took the road into the town of West Yellowstone. We don’t eat out really at all, but we made an exception for dinner that night. Chris ‘urban-spooned’ West Yellowstone and found great reviews on a restaurant called Las Palmitas. He wanted to try it, but I saw a Taco Bus and wanted to try it. We couldn’t find his restaurant so we headed to the taco bus and realized they were one and the same. Las Palmitas Taco Bus – so worth eating out. We took up half the bus, but it was awesome food. If you are ever in West Yellowstone, I highly recommend it.6.14westyellowstone-46.14westyellowstone-56.14westyellowstone-6

We finished our day at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. The center houses rescued grizzly bears. We learned so much about these incredible animals and how human actions can really harm the bears. We took our time there and really tried to learn as much as we could. A big part of this trip for us is education, this was a great place for that to happen.

The boys also got to hide food for the grizzlies and watch them come out to find it. So much fun even in sleet, hail and rain.6.14westyellowstone-76.14westyellowstone-86.14westyellowstone-96.14westyellowstone-106.14westyellowstone-116.14westyellowstone-126.14westyellowstone-13

Part of the fun of the center was hearing the stories about the bears and why they were rescued or relocated. I’m sure I will get the details of this wrong, but here is the gist. One of the bears got a taste of a donut and was relocated 1,000 miles away across two mountain ranges. He must have really liked that donut because he made the trip all the way back to that yard for another one! It reminded me of my sister. She really likes donuts too.

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  • angie - What an INCREDIBLE experience your family is having. Memories for a lifetime…

    And oh, the donuts. I giggled. But really, poor bear. At least he’s well taken care of where he’s living now.

  • Meg - Ha! He “moved mountains” for that donut! Hehehe. I’m a dork. Who wouldn’t for a good donut though?

  • Kari - So does this bear now stalk other campers with his little sidekick and wait to steal their pic-a-nick baskets?

  • Dana - Do they still endulge him with an occasional donut? I mean how cruel to know they exist and have zero access to them? Poor bear…

  • Monica - Hi Ashley, Thank you for sharing all of this. It is a great experience for your family!. We are planning to go this year. SO I am excited to see all these pictures , well maybe we will go just for a week or I hope for two. I will show my husband the pictures of your trip to tell him how awesome can be. He really want to go and see the geysers and bears! And I think the girls maybe the oldest one will be fascinated with all of these. It will be great hear all your tips! Thanks again and continue your wonderful experience!

  • Amy Espinosa - Yep, that restaurant is just TOO cute! You’re living my dream trip! Thanks for the inspirations!

  • Ethel - We love the town of West Yellowstone. The men in my family have fished there for the last 25 years. We have recently been staying at the Kelly Inn right across from the Wildlife Museum. They always go in early Nov. GOD’s country for sure. Glad to hear your family is enjoying their adventure. Safe travels

  • Stephanie - This trip looks so much fun, it would be a dream to be able to do this! Logistically, what do you eat? Did you pack a bunch of snacks, go grocery shopping and cook on a camp grill every night? Curious minds would love to know!

  • Lacey Meyers - Hi Ashley! I am having such a wonderful time viewing your images from your trip, as it is one I have dreamed of taking again for years now. My husband and I took a very similar trip (though from Oregon into Montana) and LOVED every second of it. And now I cannot wait take our boys there as well and your photos clearly remind me of why! Thank you so much for sharing as you always do!

  • kimberly oyler - i love bears. i saw a big pack of them on my way to the airport in alaska. a momma and her 3 cubs. it was so fun to see them up close, but i regretted stopping once i read a news article stating that the will have to be moved or killed because they have become too desensitized to humans. isn’t that sad?

  • Laura S. - Amazing pictures of your children’s faces when they saw the bears come get their hidden food. So glad to hear there is a place like this. Love that food bus! Happy and safe travels to you and yours.

  • erin - i literally laughed out loud at your reference to your sister…
    she’s already posted a “Donut Friday” post on IG this morning!!! 🙂

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Totally laughed out loud about Lesley – awesome! LOL. And total marriage win for the Taco Truck! High five.

  • Debbie C - It’s hilarious how you are living out of a trailer and then “eating out” in a bus. 😉

  • Addie - Wonderful pics! We’ve traveled to Yellowstone twice from Oregon! LOVE it there! That wolf & bear center is the best!

  • Kimberly - I am so enjoying all of these posts from Colorado and Wyoming. Being from Colorado and having family in Wyoming it is fun to see all of the sites through your lens. It also brings back many fond memories of all of our family vacations to Yellowstone and Jackson. Not sure which way your travels are taking you next, but if it is along your path, Thermopolis is a fun place to visit with kids. Very small little town, but they have hot springs for swimming as well as hot springs state park.

  • donna - Maybe the donut bear was “Smokey the bear” he was a cop. lol

  • Stoich91 - Haha, oh my, what an adventure! The donut story is hilarious!

  • Diana - That’s exactly why I love Yellowstone – the diversity is incredible! So many different wonders to see within the park!

  • elizabeth H - these photos are so great; your family trip is looking amazing!!
    such beautiful memories your making!

  • Katie - So weird!!! My husband and I almost never watch tv, but we flipped it on today and actually watched a show about these very bears and the guy that started it all. I hadn’t really been online much, so I just sat down tonight to catch up and read this. So funny! The show was great. I now want to hug a bear.

  • Sharron - That’s so funny about Little One and the cold. Our daughter is from the Guandong province and she is the exact opposite. Won’t wear socks in January, says she doesn’t need a coat, etc. And we live in central Indiana! She acts like she’d dying when it’s 80! LOL

  • carole - I love seeing your pictures. I am just starting to learn how to use my dslr and love to see the settings you use.
    What lens are you using on this trip?

  • AshleyAnn - Carole – I am mainly using my 24-70mm f/2.8 lens

  • Kristin - Oh man, I would love to try that taco bus. I love mexican food =)