Explore WY {Yellowstone}

Prior to our trip we heard lots of opinions on Yellowstone. There were those that thought it was the best place on earth and those that were disappointed because of the vast number of tourists. I visited Yellowstone the summer after my senior year, but it was a short trip through on my way to Flathead lake in Montana. I was pretty excited to explore our nation’s first national park with my kids

We did not leave disappointed.

Sure, there were a few busy spots with lots of tourists, but the park is huge and there is plenty of wide open space for exploring too. The park has so much diversity it truly is an incredible experience to walk among burnt forests, mud volcanoes, waterfalls, geysers, lush valleys, and of course wildlife. We took our time at each stop and tried to really learn as we went. There is so much to learn in this amazing outdoor classroom.

We did not give ourselves a timeline or try to rush from place to place. We took our time and let the kids lead the way in what the daily agenda would be. Giving them the freedom to choose to leave someplace, stay longer or skip a location I think really helped make it a fun adventure for us all.

The boys also heard the rangers talk a lot about animal scat. That alone make the park awesome to my boys.

We drove through a couple areas where forest fires had dramatically changed the landscape. There was a beauty in those areas that was so different from the rest of the park. Learning about the role of fires in the health of the forest reminded me of how going through fires in life in general really produces a beauty that can’t happen without the fire. What a gift to be able to talk to the kids about the restorative role of fire.
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In all that wide open space the boys’ spirits ran wild…so much room for adventure and exploration with a good amount of danger mixed in. They ate it up.

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The Mud Volcano area – We decided the area smelled stinkier than her feet when she wears tennis shoes with no socks. That is serious stinky.

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Chris had the camera most of this day to record that I was actually on this trip too. I tried pulling the kids aside to read all the information markers. So much knowledge and insight we crammed into our heads in a matter of days. We won’t remember it all, but we will remember more than if had just passed by the sites without reading anything.

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Waterfalls at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

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Mammoth Springs

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We ended our last day in the park at Lamar Valley. Before our trip we had each kid pick on place in the park they wanted to be sure we stopped. My oldest did a little research and chose Lamar Valley because it was known as a great spot to see wildlife. We dug a little deeper and read that dusk and/or dawn are the best times to visit. So we planned our last day to end in the valley. It meant for a late night (sun sets pretty late this time of year), but it was totally worth it.

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Ending our time at the park in Lamar Valley was the perfect ending. The sun was on fire, the bison were crossing the road, the kids were in awe. When the kids get older they may not remember too many details of their first trip to Yellowstone, but I think there is a good chance they will remember it being a spectacular trip and an incredibly fun time as a family.

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  • Tania // Run to Radiance - Wow…looks like such a fun trip and a beautiful place to visit! i love your last few shots of the bison. I also love the idea of the teaching moment with the fire….such a good way to look at things!

  • Diana - Gahhhhh….those pictures are amazing. You have me itching to go out west pretty bad!

  • Juice - Your comment about fire made me tear up. What a great example to share with friends who are going through tough times. How awesome that God reveals himself to us in so many ways. Thanks for sharing your insight.

  • Tanya - Fantastic! What beautiful pictures of a wonderful trip!

  • Jenn - oh my goodness the beauty. My husband and I went before we had kids when we were driving back across the country from WA state and moving back to the south. Yellowstone was one of our favorite spots and some of your pictures remind me of our time there. We can’t wait to take our two kiddo’s back there. Enjoy the rest of your time away.

  • Jenny B. - So beautiful!! I remember every road trip I took with my parents. We always stopped to read the information / historical markers (especially on our trip through the southern states … so many civil war battlefields). Your (and Chris’s) photography is lovely. Thank you for sharing. This makes me want to take my kids on a road trip!

  • Nicole L. - I love Yellowstone. Your husband is a pretty good photographer! I think even if your kids don’t immediately remember the trip, just seeing the pictures will probably jog their memory.

  • Ashley - what an amazing triP!! we are hoping to take our kids there before summer is over and I know that my boys would be just as excited about all the wildlife. enjoy your trip, and glad to see you in pictures too:)

  • Laura S. - I hope you are not coming home. You all need to stay out there and take more great family and nature photos. I loved every single picture and post. Safe travels to you all.

  • angie - simply incredible!!!

  • SherryR - Wow. Makes me want to get in the car and see our great nation. Brings this song to mind from elementary: “This land is your land, this land is my land. From California, to the New York Island. From the Redwood forest, to the Gulf Stream Waters, this land was made for you and me.”

  • Angi - This is fantastic. We took our 4 year-old to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in early May. It’s great to see it again a short time later through your lens. I had heard some negative feedback about Yellowstone too, but I loved it. Yellowstone Lake was completely frozen over still and there were still unopened sections so we didn’t see it all. Lamar Valley was our favorite also! The 4 year-old also enjoyed the “scat.” And, as a 4 year-old I hope this is a family vacation he will still always remember.

  • Heather - You said to comment with questions and I have one! 🙂 Do said that y’all rarely eat out and that’s the main expense I’m worried about with a trip like this and a large family. What are y’all eating, on the road, for so long? Thanks so much!! I am enjoying keeping up with your trip! 🙂

  • erin - the shot of the bison roaming with the sun fiery in the background…
    AMAZING!!!

    thank you SO much for continuing to share so much of this with us. xo

  • Allison - I love that your kids are so involved and excited to see the places they’ve chosen. The Valley pics are amazing!! I’m sure your kids will remember the peace and awe in those moments you sat there watching the wildlife and the sunset. Those are the things that stay in your heart whether you have a photo or not. Thanks for your inspiration and helpful tips on traveling with children. We did lots odf these types of vacations during my childhood and plan on doing them with our family too. This makes me want to plan my trip to yellowstone and glacier right now!!

  • Cary - I rarely comment, so already apologizing for it being a “negative” one. The wildfire pictures make me tear up for another reason. As a logger’s daughter who has seen national lands essentially shut off to logging in order to let nature takes it’s course, I am heartbroken to see how prevelant this mentality has become. Looks like you’re one who researches and studies with the hope of raising children who think, comtemplate, and evaluate wisely, so maybe just take a second look at this topic :-).

  • Taylor - Love these pictures! Also, I really like that your little boy carries around a camera to take pictures of nature. So awesome!!!

    xoxo
    Taylor

  • Natalie - It’s nice to see you in the pictures! And the 2nd to last photo is breathtaking!!!

  • Haley - These pictures in Lamar Valley are amazing! Thanks for sharing pictures from your adventure.

  • JulieB - We visited Yellowstone for about 24 hours on our drive through to OR (to pick up our Airstream!!). I could have spent weeks there. You just can’t describe what pine trees smell like until you go there! It’s amazing!!

  • AshleyAnn - Cary – I will do some research on that. Thank you.

  • Kristin - Oh my goodness, those sunset pictures with the bison are breathtaking!

  • Chris - I haven’t been to Yellowstone forever!