Tag Archives: Grand Tetons

Vacation Highlight Video #2

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Grace has completed her second highlight video of our amazing journey, stealing snippets of time between schoolwork and touring to work on it.

This video highlights Week 3 of our trip, covering our time at Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons, Salt Lake City, Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, Newport Beach, California and Downtown Disney.

 The next video will be of our five days at Disneyland

We hope you enjoy reliving some of the highlights of  Week 3 with us.

What a trip it has been.

It has been a marvelous journey!

Grand Tetons

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The areas around the Grand Teton mountain range and its lakes were established as a national park in 1929 in order to protect the land from commercial exploitation. The protected area was extended into the surrounding valley in 1950. Grand Teton National Park currently covers more than 310,000 acres and is located only 10 miles from Yellowstone National Park.

Located high above sea level at elevations from elevations from 6,320 to 13,770 feet, Grand Teton National Park is a diverse ecosystem with terrain ranging from summertime wildflower meadows to rushing whitewater streams. There are also numerous serene lakes with deep blue pools, echoing the stillness and color of the glaciers that shaped them. The wild and winding Snake River descends through the park in a rush of water and the dense forests blanketing the mountainsides provide habitat for a vast array of fauna and flora, with some species dating back to the prehistoric era.

Opportunities for viewing wildlife abound inside the park. It is often possible to see both grizzly and black bears, gray wolves, coyotes, bison and bald eagles. Other common sightings include pronghorns, elk and a variety of smaller mammals such as the Uinta ground squirrel.”

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Located just minutes away from the south entrance of Yellowstone is the entrance to Grand Tetons National Park. This was the next stop on our cross country journey.

As we drove into the park we were instantly transported into a very different experience from our time in Yellowstone. The crowds we smaller, the landscape far more breathtaking. We found it to be a much prettier park.

We began our visit at the visitors center where the kids picked up their junior ranger books and had our National Parks Passport book stamped.

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We stepped onto the back porch of the visitor center and were greeted with stunning views of Jackson Lake.

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Set up on the porch was a local star gazing group that were allowing the kids to look through a special telescope at the sun where they were able to view sun spots on the sun.

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They also had a station set up where the kids were able to make their own paper rockets. When they were done constructing their rockets they were allowed to set them off with air power, using an empty 2 liter bottle and a PVC pipe.

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After spending time at the visitors center we began heading south to see more of the park.

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At a friend’s recommendation we stopped at String Lake for our picnic lunch. The smell of pine was intoxicating and the views were incredible.

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After lunch we began our hike. Pictures don’t do justice to the beauty we saw while touring the Grand Tetons.  Everyone kept commenting that it looked like we were hiking in front of a green screen because the views were to stunning to be real.

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It was a perfect day. It was lovely stepping onto a dirt path and escaping into the wilderness for an afternoon.

We loved the Grand Tetons!

Next stop: Rexburg, Idaho

The Planning Begins!

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Family night turned into a planning night as we dedicated the evening to mapping out the route for our big vacation next summer. This is one of those “once if a lifetime” trips that have been talked about and dreamt about for years. It is now going to be a reality. Toby is busy turning our school bus (purchased this summer at an auction) into an RV. Now we need to begin mapping out our route and booking our campsites.

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So that became the activity for family night.

The kids all weighed in with opinions and wishes. Oh, if only we could see them all! But, alas, we had to trim the fat (so to speak) and make tough decisions. Even with all our cutting, trimming, and refiguring we were left with a 24 day trip around the western United States…and a very full trip at that. We recognize this will probably be the only time we will take this particular trip, especially with our kids getting older, so we are trying to fit as many sites into this trip as we can.

We would love to hear from those of you who are familiar with some of these sites or who have made this trip yourselves. Any suggestions, recommendations, or things you’d do differently? What are the “must see sites” you’d recommend? Nothing is written in stone, so now is the time to share your knowledge and expertise. We’d love to hear it! 🙂

Here is the final schedule we came up with…our itinerary…for our family trip of a lifetime.

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Day 1- Leave home, travel all day to St. Louis, Missouri

in our big yellow school bus turned RV. (Travel= 10 hours)

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(Camp at St. Louis NE KOA)

Day 2- Tour St. Louis arch, drive through my old hometown of Waynesville, MO and onto Branson, MO. (Travel= 4 hours total)

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(Camp at Branson, MO KOA)

Day 3- wake early and spend day at Silver Dollar City.(Travel= 0 hours)

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(Camp at the same campground)

Day 4- Travel to Independence, MO where we will spend the day visiting Mimi Joy. (Travel= 3 1/2 hours)

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(Camp at Kansas City East, Kansas KOA)

Day 5- Travel all day to Great Sand Dunes National Park in Mosca, CO. (Travel= 11 hours)

(Camp at Alamosa KOA)

Day 6- Spend day at Great Sand Dunes National Park.(Travel= 0 hours)

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(Camp at same campground)

Day 7- Drive to Mesa Verde where we will spend the day touring Mesa Verde and Four Corners. (Travel=  4 hours)

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(Camp at Cortez/Mesa Verde KOA)

Day 8- Drive 5 hours to Bryce Canyon National Park. Hike and camp.(Travel= 5 hours)

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(Camp at Cannonville/Bryce Valley, Utah KOA)

Day 9- Drive to Zion National Park. Spend 1/2 day hiking and exploring then drive onto St. George, UT. (Travel= 4 hours total)

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(Camp at St. George/Hurricane, Utah KOA)

Day 10- View Grand Canyon and drive through Las Vegas strip. (Travel= 3 hours)

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(Camp at Las Vegas, NV KOA)

Day 11- Drive to Sequoia National Park. (Travel= 6 hours)

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(Camp Visalia/ Sequoia, CA KOA)

Day 12- Tour Sequoia National Park and drive onto Yosemite to spend the night. (Travel= 2 hours)

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(Camp at Yosemite West/ Mariposa, CA KOA)

Day 13- Tour Yosemite National Park and then drive onto Great Basin National Park to spend the night. (Travel= 7 hours)

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(Camp at Great Basin/Ely KOA)

Day 14- Drive to Provo, UT (Travel= 4 hours)

(Camp at Salt Lake City, Utah KOA)

Day 15- Tour Temple Square/ SLC (Travel time= 0 hours)

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(Camp at the same campground)

Day 16- Drive 4 hours to Rexburg, Idaho and then through the Grand Tetons. (Travel time= 8 hours total)

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(Camp at Yellowstone Park/Westgate KOA)

Day 17- Spend the day exploring Yellowstone National Park and then drive onto Devil’s Tower Monument.(Travel= 4 1/2 hours)

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(Camp at Devil’s Tower KOA)

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Day 18- Spend the day touring Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Monument.(Travel= 2 hours)

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(Camp at Mt. Rushmore KOA)

Day 19- Enjoy Rapid City, South Dakota. (Travel= 0 hours)

(Camp at the same campground)

Day 20- Visit Wall Drug and Badlands National Park. (Travel= 2 hours)

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(Camp at Badlands/ White River KOA)

Day 21- Drive 4 hours to De Smet, South Dakota to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home and then onto Mitchell, South Dakota to see to corn palace. (Travel= 5 hours total)

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(Camp at Mitchell, SD KOA)

Day 22- Drive to Nauvoo, Illinois . (Travel= 8 1/2 hours)

(Camp)

Day 23- Tour Nauvoo, Il and then onto Hannibal, MO- birthplace of Mark Twain. (Travel= 2 hours)

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(Camp at Springfield KOA)

Day 24- Drive 10 hours home.

Day 25- SLEEP!! (Yeah, right)

AND

Back to reality 🙂