Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Parks

I landed in Salt Lake City on a Thursday evening. By the time I got my car, a charming apple green Kia Soul, it was around 12am. Starting from there, five hours of driving were ahead of me. I was afraid of crossing the path of some nocturnal wildlife but I was lucky enough not to encounter any. At 5am, after arriving in one of the Visitor Center of Grand Teton National Park, it was finally time for a quick sleep in the back of the car. And when I woke up, getting out of my sleeping bag, I saw that orange light rising up on the Grand Teton Mountains, almost alone on the parking lot. Then I knew that the adventure ahead will be one of these I will remember for the rest of my life.

On this first day, after three hours of sleep, a gather up of precious information thanks to kind rangers, I decided to head up to Lake Solitude, 9,000 feet elevation, 22 miles hike, in the middle of these impressive, sharp peaks culminating at 11,000 or 12,000 feet above my head. With some perspective now, I admit it was a big challenge. After 3-4 hours of wandering through the luxurious nature, seeing 3 beautiful moose cooling down in the river, I reached my goal of the day: the altitude lake named Lake Solitude. You can easily guess why: a clear blue water lake surrounded by peaks with still some eternal snow lingering on it. That was definitely worth it, a perfect spot for having lunch. Unfortunately, the weather worsened, rain and wind came into the equation, preventing me from going over the mountain to do the loop. So I had to go down the same way I went up. The good surprise on the way back was a brown bear testing its balance on a trunk over the river. No need for bear spray this time, the difference of elevation between us saved me from any trouble. And that is how after 7-8 hours of walking that my first day ended going back to the shore of Jenny’s Lake. After finding a campground, I could finally have a well-deserved night of sleep.

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Day 2 and 3 of my trip were meant to be the climax of my trip, the moment I will be travelling through the marvelous Yellowstone National Park. Needless to say that I was not disappointed, I lived in a dream for these two days. After gathering again some crucial information at the ranger station (I need to insist on the fact that they are doing an AMAZING job over there in both parks and they deserve a huge thank you for that!!), my first destination was the very punctual eruption of the Old Faithful. What a spectacle! When I arrived there and saw that you are literally dropped in the middle of a geyser basin with geysers surrounding you from everywhere that was just magnificent. The slight disappointment was waiting for three hours for the King of geyser there, the Grand Geyser, and finally walk away to see the eruption in the distance ten minutes later. But, if Nature was ever easily predictable, it would loose all its beauty wouldn’t it? My next step was literally, to me, one of the most beautiful site that is allowed to see on Earth, I am of course raving about the Grand Prismatic. I had to make my way through the hill on the side of the road but once on the top woow! These colors will stay printed in my mind for the rest of my life: blue, yellow, orange etc. A dream came true when I saw that place from the distance, it’s just magical. The smile on my face was as big as the one of a kid opening his birthday presents. One of my tops of Yellowstone for sure, it sounds a bit too cliché but whatever it deserves it.

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Then, after having some trouble finding a campground, a quite usual situation in Yellowstone, I stepped out of the park for the night for a better come back in the morning. Day 3 appeared to be already my real last day in the park but it fed me up with tons of beautiful sites and landscapes to discover on that day. The first one was Mammoth Hot Springs which was very impressive, especially the view on the upper terrace with the fumes and the mountains a perfect spot to take great pictures! These pools reminded me of Pammukale in Turkey only exception is that you don’t want to swim inside these springs here! The colors, one more time, struck my mind. These reddish, brownish colors falling down the springs, the trees almost killed by the sulfur smokes in the atmosphere around made that landscape lunar and unbelievable. My last stop was the one and only Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. However, before that, on my way there, a ranger told me that September was the ideal period for bison migration and that I should cross their path really soon. As you can imagine I got very excited about this information! So when suddenly, while driving, I saw hundreds of bison just in front of me that was for sure my best wildlife experience so far. This reinforced my impression that in Yellowstone, visitors are the aliens and animals the owners. Arriving around the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, rapt with wonder after seeing these majestic and massive animals that are bisons, Nature slap me in the face one more time. I didn’t go to the well-known Grand Canyon yet (it’s definitely on my bucket list) but what I saw there was amazing! These yellowish colors of the rocks, the trees all around, and the waterfall of course all this was mesmerizing. I only did the north rim side of the canyon due to a lack of time but it already gave very good insights.

After seeing all these beautiful landscapes, my short trip in Yellowstone was already coming to its end. One last camping night under a snowy and freezing weather and I was already driving back to Salt Lake City. Fortunately, I drove during day time on the way back and going through Idaho, Wyoming was a blast. Some nostalgic feelings came up when I drove through Paris, Idaho and saw all these sign with Eiffel Towers on, reminded me of home.

Arriving at Salt Lake City airport was definitely a shock, a return to civilization and reality before the next adventure of course!

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