Tuesday, April 12, 2011

FAMILY VACATION SERIES: Yellowstone National Park

When I think of Summer Vacation, Yellowstone National Park often comes to mind, especially West Yellowstone! We have many fond memories of Yellowstone, both in the Winter and in the Summer! It's one of those places that you will always find plenty to do, no matter what season! Refer to the "Things To Know Before You Come" guide for more information. There is also a preparation guide for kids! Download your trip planner and many other helpful forms and maps.


Grandpa's Cabin in Island Park is our favorite place to stay while visiting West Yellowstone. We rent out the entire cabin, and our entire extended family vacations together! This includes ten adults and five kids, and we all sleep comfortably! There is also a lot of grassy area if you want more family than the cabin can hold, and they can sleep in tents out on the grass. It's the perfect spot for a small family vacation, or a large family reunion. Because it is truly a "home away from home", you can bring your own food and save money instead of eating out!

Anglers' Lodge is another place to stay. Located across the highway from Grandpa's Cabin, this has more of a hotel feel. If you are traveling with one or a few more people, Anglers' Lodge is a great option. It is located on the river, and rooms open up to a view of the river.

Camping: If your idea of a fun vacation is camping, there are many options available, inside and out of Yellowstone National Park. Just make sure you obey all "Beware Of Bears" signs, and other wildlife rules.


Yellowstone National Park is a place you are going to want to spend an entire day seeing. Get an early start because the later in the day, the larger the crowds. We usually like to be in the park about 7am at the latest. We enter through the West Yellowstone entrance, drive around the hot pots to Old Faithful, and make the loop back around. You will receive a map when you enter the park. The entrance fee is $25 for a private, noncommercial vehicle; $20 for each snowmobile or motorcycle; or $12 for each visitor 16 and older entering by foot, bike, ski, etc. This fee provides the visitor with a 7-day entrance permit for both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. You can take advantage of FREE National Park days, but keep in mind that those days are going to be a lot more crowded!

Quake Lake (AKA Earthquake Lake) is a ghost town that you want to make sure you take time to see while you are in the area. On August 17th 1959, one of the most powerful earthquakes in the west shook the area. It also dropped the north shore of Hebgen Lake 19 feet. Cabins on the shore washed into the water as huge waves crested over Hebgen Dam. Three sections of Highway 287 fell into the lake, the dam cracked in at least four places and hundreds of campers were trapped. The landslide eventually stopped, essentially damming the Madison River and creating Earthquake, or “Quake Lake,” a 190-foot deep, six mile long lake. At the visitors center, you can visit some of the houses that were drowned when the earthquake happened. Rumor has it that you can still hear footprints walking around the houses if you listen close enough! The visitors center is open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week from Memorial Day through mid-September. Fees are $3 per car, $15 per tour bus, $1 for hikers/bikers. Golden Eagle, Golden Age, and Golden Access passes are honored.

Bear World is a fun place to stop and see on the way home from your vacation. It is located in Rexburg, Idaho. Watch for the signs along the highway and you can't miss it! Because the bears in Yellowstone have been relocated away from the road, there isn't a very big chance that you will see one while in the park. Bear World has provided a great way for you to see the bears right up close like in the "good old days" of Yellowstone. They also have a fun ride area that is included in admission, and doesn't cost extra!

Outdoor Recreation Activities are always popular options when visiting West Yellowstone. The many lakes and rivers are great for fishing, and the endless hiking trails are great for backpacking adventures. The many miles of water make it a great place for scenic float trips, whitewater rafting, and many other water sports. Other popular options include horse pack trips and horseback riding, ATV/Offroading, biking, and hunting. With all of the options, you can plan your own adventure, or hire a guide for a guided tour.

Museums: As you drive to your Yellowstone vacation, you will notice many signs along the way for musuems. If you can take time the day driving up there, or the day driving home, stop and visit a few of these museums! Some you will notice are: Collectors' Corner Museum, Fort Hall, Idaho Museum Of Natural History, Idaho Potato Museum, Legacy Flight Museum, and many more!

West Yellowstone / Island Park is only a five and a half hour drive from Salt Lake City. Take I-15 north until you reach the Idaho border. Go towards Pocatello and Idaho Falls. From Idaho Falls, get off and take the highway towards Rexburg. You will go through Rexburg, and keep going until you reach Island Park. For West Yellowstone, keep going on the main highway and you will drive right into it.

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Visit our Family Vacation Series page for more fun vacation ideas!

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