Last September my family and I went to Grand Teton National Park. I had an elopement there. When I first booked the elopement in the spring, my husband and I knew that summer was going to be a crazy time for us both, work wise. Each year we like to take a family trip. In the summer of 2020, we visited Moab, UT and fell in love. We had said we wanted to go back again in 2021. The elopement was going to take place on September 18. A day before our anniversary. September was not as full for either of us. So I brought up the idea of all of us going. I would only be working half a day. He could stay with the kids while I was working then the next day we could get back on the road to Moab; it was kind of on the way.
Up until this point, I had never brought the family along for one of my elopements or weddings. I would just travel solo. I wasn’t sure if this was a great idea or would be a complete disaster. I had seen other photographers bring their family along for travel shoots, with infants at that! My youngest is 4, fully potty trained, this should be fine.
Overall it worked out well. There were some learning curves but I would not have called it a complete disaster. We only brought one car this time. I feel like that was a missight. My husband and kids were supposed to hang out in downtown Jackson Hole while I was at the elopement. The reception was at a restaurant in downtown Jackson Hole, so we could all meet up afterwards. There is a park, shops, and restaurants. Surely they could entertain themselves for 4 hours. An hour into it, it poured. And I mean poured. The temperature dropped. From what I was told it was not a fun time (mostly for my husband). The kids at least were so excited to tell me all about the ice cream they had and the souvenirs they had bought. No tears, no injuries, all children were accounted for, in mom world, this is a success!
On the drive down we decided to make a pit stop in Yellowstone. I had only ever driven through the park, just months prior. My husband and kids had never seen it. If you are not familiar with Yellow National Park, it is massive. Driving from one end to the other takes at least an hour. Mostly because the speed limit is slow and Yellowstone hit their record year for visitors in 2021. So that means, lots of traffic.
I planned for this trip rather poorly. I did not realize lodging books as quickly as it does in this area. Anywhere I have ever gone, you can find something a month out. Not in Jackson, WY. You best plan way in advance! I also had not realized how expensive the Jackson area is. Since this was not the main part of our stay we really didn’t want to spend a lot of money. The only availability we found was at a Motel 6 for $280/night. Ummm excuse me?! Motel 6….$280/night??? We literally just needed someplace to crash for one night. Hard pass. So we found a cabin in Idaho. 45min away. Not the most convenient but it worked. Unfortunately that meant we didn’t have much time to check out Yellowstone. We still had another 2 hours worth of driving to do. So we went to Old Faithful. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see it go off before we had to leave. It was nice to stretch our legs for a bit though.
Now I may have some people disagree with me here, but just from what I had seen at Old Faithful, I was entirely disappointed. It was very underwhelming to me. The thing I love about national parks is the immersion into nature. It’s where I can remind myself that there is something much greater than us. I didn’t feel this here. To me it felt like what the “upper class” would call the outdoors. If you had to imagine the Kardashians doing something outdoorsy, what would you imagine? Big resorts, with the finest of nature décor? Fine restaurants and cute little shops? Don’t get me wrong, I like these things too, just in a different setting. That’s what I expect to see at an amusement park and Disney World. This is what I felt when we pulled into the massive paved parking lot of Old Faithful. Everywhere you walked was paved sidewalk. No dirt trails, no roughing it. Now I will give them some credit, there was quite a bit of boardwalk you had to walk on for safety. We were around geysers after all. Aside from that though, there were several resorts around us. Cute little shopping centers. It felt like a “nature themed” amusement park.
I have not given up hope though. I know I need to see more of Yellowstone before I form a fair opinion. I now live 5 hours from Yellowstone, so I will most definitely be going back. If you have any suggestions on what to see, I am all ears!
The next day we woke up, packed up our stuff and hit the road for Jackson, WY. The little drive we had in Idaho was absolutely gorgeous! I would love to see more of Idaho some day.
After some breakfast we made our way to Jenny Lake.
There is a ferry boat that will take you across the lake to some trails. If you hike far enough you will make it to Hidden Falls. A small but beautiful waterfall. The ferry ride is only about 5 minutes. You can either take it one way, then hike the 3.5miles back or about every 20 minutes there is a ferry to bring you back. The view on the ferry ride was absolutely stunning. The mountains towered over you. You could smell the fresh lake water. A word of caution….you more than likely will get splashed on the ride. Make sure anything that cannot get wet is protected. You won’t get soaked, or at least we didn’t. Just so people are aware.
When you get to the trails, there is something important to keep in mind. You will be in the backcountry. That means no water, no restrooms. Prepare accordingly. We are no strangers to hiking so this was not an issue for us. The hike itself was fairly easy. You are hiking up a mountain though, so do keep that in mind, if inclines are difficult for you.
The scenery was absolutely breathtaking. The entire hike you are welcomed by water flowing down rocks. One of my favorite sounds on this Earth. My oldest loved the trees. They are tall and skinny. She called them the Twilight trees. Any Twilight readers here??
We spent the first half of the day just enjoying the area. We came across some friendly horses. My youngest found her spirit animal (wild mustang would be more accurate but close enough). After lunch it was time for me to go to work. I wish we could have seen more of the park. I went to Grand Teton National Park back in June for an engagement. There are so many spots I want to show them. Now that we live closer, we will be visiting again.
Overall it was a short but beautiful experience.
Here are some highlights from our trip! Stay tuned for the next blog that will cover our trip to Moab, Utah!