Monday, February 9, 2015

Yellowstone with Kids

We are planners, so it never occurred to us that when we scheduled out 2014 Yellowstone vacation in 2014 that we would be taking an additional kid with us. That's right. We've added one in May and in early August we packed the whole group up into a rented minivan and headed off to Yellowstone.

Here are some pictures from our amazing trip full of animals and adventures. They really speak for themselves.

I do have a few tips on planning a great Yellowstone adventure.

1. Book Early.  A year in advance is the norm if you want to stay in the park. If you have less then a year it is worth calling. Friends who joined us on the trip called just a few months in advance and were able to get a great camping spot.

2.  Staying in the park gave us a huge advantage. Although we were there during peak season we hardly noticed the crowds in the morning. We ate breakfast in our cabin or in the car on our way to our morning adventures. Around 11 things were swarming and we were on our way to our picnic lunch... so if you are not staying in the park get up early and get where you are going. Not only will you avoid the crowds you will beat the heat.

3. There is no such thing as too much time in the park. Your itinerary will expand to include the days you have. We spent a week in the park and enjoyed every second. Most people plan a day or two to hit the highlights. We were able to actually explore the park. We did mornings at the big attractions and longer back country hikes in the afternoons/early evenings. The kids slept in the packs.

4. Pack your food or make reservations. The food in the park ranges from average to excellent. We packed the majority of our meals but had a few reservations at the nicer restaurants. Most nights there were several hour waits for dinner - it is worth the phone call to make a reservation. You can always cancel if you decide to do something else.

5. Take advantage of the ranger tours and programs. We were shocked that most ranger programs were small. Even with small kids we enjoyed many of the walking tours and ranger programs. Our kids were too small but there is an excellent Jr. Ranger program that is worth taking advantage of - kids can earn badges and stickers.

6. Use Your Nap Time. We chose to drive some of the remote areas of the park while the kids slept. It was a great use of our time. The kids got a good nap and we were able to enjoy the time in the park. Staying in the park also meant that when the kids napped in the cabin we sat outside in our lawn chairs, read a bit and enjoyed the wild life. It was not uncommon for a bison or elk to wander through the cabin area.

7. Day Trip over to Grand Teton National Park. You wont be disappointed. Our toddler loved the boat ride and we loved the hike. Our friends who traveled with us without kids enjoyed an all day hike in Grand Teton by taking the boat and then following the trail until they were ready for lunch.

Grand Teton National Park. 

Playing in one of the many lakes. 

Boxed Wine. The perfect picnic food. 

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