The Lewis River in Yellowstone National Park

Editors note: Grant wanted to share the following from his June trip to Wyoming. Hopefully we will see more of his travel insights soon.

The Lewis river is located in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. We were driving to our campsite when we stopped to look at the river. I am still in awe that there’s still snow on the ground in June. Gk

The 5 Best National Parks for Instagram Pictures

It seems that your vacation of a lifetime nowadays isn’t complete without a picture posted to Instagram, Twitter or your favorite social media app that day.  Well all the National Parks are beautiful and have great opportunities for that perfect social media picture, but a few stand out from the rest.   Let’s see if you agree with my list.

5)  Glacier National Park:   Number 5 on our list is magnificent Glacier National Park in Montana.   This National Park has stunning glaciers, bright blue lakes, gushing waterfalls, and ample wildlife.  The opportunities for that perfect photograph are nearly endless.

23viewsAmazing view in Glacier National Park

4)   Crater Lake National Park:   Next up on our list is breathtaking Crater Lake National Park in the fine state of Oregon.   The contrasting colors of deep azure water, evergreen trees, and snowcapped volcanic caldera make for amazing photos that you won’t forget.

img_5048Wizard Island in Crater Lake National Park

3)   Arches National Park:   Sitting nicely at number 3 on our list is Utah’s Arches National Park.  The clear blue sky matched up with gravity defying arches and rock formations makes for fabulous photograph opportunities.   Your surely amp up your notifications with pictures from Arches National Park.

2016-iphone-pictures-406Broken Arch in Arches National Park

2)  Dry Tortugas National Park:  Number 2 on our list is the difficult to get to Dry Tortugas National Park.   Only accessible by boat or seaplane, this National Park is located 60 miles west of Key West, Florida.   What makes the photos so amazing here is the brick walls of Fort Jefferson and the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  You’ll get some extra likes when you post a picture from here.

img_3360View out of a Fort Jefferson “window” out onto the beach.

1)   Yellowstone National Park:  America’s first National Park is also first on this list.    The opportunities here for an iconic photo are nearly endless.   The abundant wildlife, the shockingly vibrant colors of the hot springs, and the power of the geysers make this our most photogenic National Park.   Make sure you take plenty of pictures on your next visit to Yellowstone National Park.

2017 iphone pictures 477Microbes and water temperature cause the vibrant colors in Yellowstone’s hot springs.  

*The cover photo is of the Gibbon River in Yellowstone National Park.

 

 

 

Friday Favorites: Geysers & Hot Springs in Yellowstone NP

Yellowstone National Park is an amazing place. I think you could spend a summer there and not see everything.

One of the things that surprised me was the amount of geothermal features, there must be thousands. It’s so impressive.

Here is a video and a few pics from our visit last summer.

This is in the Upper Geyser Basin

Don’t remember the name of this hot spring, but it’s pretty

Morning Glory Hot Spring

Old Faithful

Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces

Picture of the Day: The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

This picture was taken last summer. You can see the Yellowstone Falls in the background as the Yellowstone River flows through the canyon. I have a few more pictures below of different perspectives. rk

The Seven Natural Wonders of the Continental United States

Everyone has heard of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, right?   I thought it would be interesting to look at the Seven Natural Wonders of the United States.   Since I haven’t made it to Alaska or Hawaii yet, I will narrow this down to the Seven Natural Wonders of the Continental United States.  Each of these places is magnificent and has been protected by our National Park System

  • Crater Lake – Crater Lake, located in Oregon, is the deepest lake in the United States with a depth of 1949 feet.  When measured by average depth, Crater Lake is the deepest in this hemisphere and 3rd deepest in the world.  Crater Lake was formed when a volcanic caldera filled with water over hundreds of years.  This lake is also known for its extreme water clarity.

Crater Lake (photo credit to guest photographer and friend, Katie)

  • The Everglades –  The Everglades are the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States.  Covering 1.5 million acres in southern Florida, this area is also known as a river of grass.  The Everglades used to consist of over 3 million acres before much of the area was drained for farmland in the early 1900’s.   This area is home to alligators, manatees, and the Florida Panther.
  • The Giant Sequoias and Redwoods – These enormous trees in California are the tallest and largest trees in the world.  These two species are closely related.  The Redwoods can reach heights of 375 feet and diameters of 25 feet.  The Giant Sequoias can reach heights of 275 feet and diameters of 30 feet.  These trees truely must be seen to be believed.


Redwood trees in Muir Woods 15 minutes north of San Francisco

  • The Geothermal Features of Yellowstone – Located in northwest Wyoming, Yellowstone is an unearthly place.  The first explorers of the area brought back tales of exploding geysers, colorful pools of hot and poisonous water, and boiling mud that were not believed.  We now know that this area sits upon a super volcano that will one day destroy much of North America when it erupts again.  In the meantime, it is a beautiful and mesmerizing place to visit.

Hot spring in Yellowstone National Park

  • Death Valley – The commonly held image of Death Valley is of a swelteringly hot wasteland.  While it is true summer temps here can top out at 130*F, there is a lot to be amazed at here.  Badwater Basin in the center of the park is a giant salt flat and at 282 feet below sea level is the lowest point in North America.  Telescope Peak rises directly behind Badwater Basin to a height of 11043 feet.  The only population of the rarest fish in the world exists in Death Valley.  There are less than 200 Devil’s Hole Pupfish left.


Badwater Basin in Death Valley

  • The Arches of Utah – The highest concentration of rock arches in the world is in Utah.  Arches National Park has over 2000 arches alone with thousands more spread out across southern Utah.  Landscape Arch spans 290 feet.  Rainbow Bridge boasts a height of 290 feet.  Delicate Arch is arguably the most famous in the world.


Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park

  • The Grand Canyon – The Grand Canyon is the only member of this list that is also one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.  It is located in northern Arizona and was carved over a millennia by the Colorado River.  The Grand Canyon has a length of 277 miles, width up to 18 miles and a depth of  6093 feet.  To appreciate the Grand Canyon in all of it’s glory you will want to hike or mule down to the Colorado River.


Sunrise at Mather Point in the Grand Canyon

rk

The Ten Best National Park Gateway Towns:

The National Park gateway towns are more than just a place to grab a quick meal or a shower.  Many of them have become full fledged tourist destinations of their own.  Of course, as they become more hip and popular with tourists, they can lose some of the vibe that made them popular in the first place.

Any list like this is subjective of course.  I have visits to several of these gateway towns scheduled in the next 60 days to possibly change my opinion and move up or down the list.  Without further ado:

Honorable Mention) Key West FL:  Key West is the jump off point to Dry Tortugas National Park. This town can get overwhelmed by partying tourists from the cruise ships that stop here.

10) Springdale UT:  Located at the west entrance to Zion National Park, this small town is as beautiful as it is congested.

9) Gatlinburg TN: Gatlinburg is known for having the most pancake houses per capita almost as much as for being the gateway to ultra popular Smoky Mountains National Park.

8) Gardiner MT: Located at the north entrance to Yellowstone NP, near Mammoth Hot Springs.  This small town feels more authentic and less tourist trap. I had some great pizza here once at Yellowstone Pizza Company.


The Roosevelt Arch as you leave Gardiner and enter Yellowstone NP

7) Williams AZ: This iconic Route 66 town is almost an hour to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. That’s a little farther than most on this list, but the Grand Canyon Railway runs daily from here to the Grand Canyon Village.

Capture

Williams AZ on a snowy day.

6) Port Angeles WA: This small seaside town is a great base to explore the massive Olympic National Park. Port Angeles also features a ferry to beautiful Victoria BC.


Olympic National Park Visitor Center near Port Angeles

5) Durango CO: This wild west town is the gateway to Mesa Verde National Park. The historic Main Street is a great place to explore.

4) Whitefish MT: Whitefish is the gateway to gorgeous Glacier National Park. Wander Main Street and visit the many coffee shops and enjoy the lively art scene.

3) Moab UT: Moab is not the gateway to one National Park, but two: Arches and Canyonlands. This small desert town on the Colorado River is popular with bikers and off-road jeep enthusiasts.


My son Grant near “Tow-Mater” in Moab

2) Jackson WY: Jackson is ideally located at the southern entrance to Grand Teton National Park. The town square with elk antler arches is a great photo op before dining in one of the many fine dining establishments.


An arch made of elk antlers in Jackson WY

1) Bar Harbor ME: This quintessential New England coastal town is the gateway to Acadia National Park. Combine fresh Maine lobster and the unique low tide trek to neighboring Bar Island for a great time. I love the vibe here.


Beautiful Bar Harbor as seen from Bar Island

rk

Picture of the Day: Mammoth Hot Springs 


I couldn’t decide on just one picture because Mammoth Hot Springs is such a cool and unique place so here are four of my favorite pictures from Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park! 

Thanks! – Josh

National Park Half Marathons! How did I not know about this before?

During my recent visit to Yellowstone NP, I was made aware that they had a half marathon weekend in the park planned for the following weekend.    My wife is an avid runner (while I am more of a hiker), but we were shocked that we were not aware that this was a thing.   After doing some more research, we found that there are races in many of the National Parks.   Having said that, it is difficult to find information about National Park races online.   The NPS website doesn’t even mention them unless you want to scroll through long lists of activities which could take a lot of time.   No one organization seems to sponsor the races either, so there is not one central place to find out information about the races.

We are considering doing the Joshua Tree Half Marathon which is on November 4th 2017, and matches up well with our anniversary trip we do every year.   Also, it is a night race so the opportunity to stargaze during this race will be incredible.  If you’d like to join us at this race then check out:  https://runsignup.com/Race/CA/JoshuaTree/JoshuaTreeHalfMarathon.

Capture

I will say that I am not familiar with runsignup or Vacation Races (which I am not sure if they are separate organizations or just link to each other).  I will have to update you after I participate in one of their races with how they handle the logistics of the race.   This group does offer a long list of half marathons that they sponsor in or near the National Parks (I noticed that some are not technically in the NP’s so check for that carefully).   You can find more information here:   http://vacationraces.com/.

Now some of the National Park’s seem to have locally sponsored races.   For example, Acadia National Park in Maine just had their annual race sponsored by the Mount Desert Island YMCA:  http://www.mdiymca.org/index.php?page=acadia-loop-half-mara.   That looked to be a gorgeous race following the rocky coastline of the Park.   Think of all the lobster rolls you could eat after burning off calories doing a 10K or half marathon!

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Rocky Coastline in Acadia National Park

If you like to participate in these kind of events, then I encourage you to do some research online or reach out directly to the National Park you want to visit and run through.   This does seem to be a great way to experience a National Park in a new way.   As always, thank you for reading.   rk