Investing in America and how this couple planned a trip of a lifetime!
I’d like to introduce my guest blogger Allison and her husband Richard.
Allison planned an amazing trip that I absolutely loved following last month on her Instagram feed.
In my newsletter this week (August 5, 2020) I talked about how it took a pandemic for Americans to rediscover how amazing our own country is. Visitation at National Parks is up, hotel reservations are being booked, airlines are opening more frequent schedules. America is trending!
This is the story of how she and her husband Richard experienced the West. Enjoy their journey!
Jackson Hole 2020
With everything occurring with COVID 19, I looked into traveling within the US. I found a great place with tons of outdoor activities, Jackson Hole Wyoming.
My first shocking moment began when we got off the plane on the tarmac and saw the Grand Tetons right next to us. I immediately started taking pictures, much to my husband’s dismay who said we’d have plenty of time and places to take beautiful pics, he was right. We came upon a kiosk at the baggage carousel that rented bear spray. We rented 2, and you return them at the airport when you leave. Fortunately, we never needed to use them. But it was definitely less expensive to rent them than to purchase them.
We began our journey by checking into the Hotel Jackson. It is a fantastic little upscale boutique hotel. Walking distance to all the restaurants and little shops in town. I cannot say enough great things about this hotel. The front desk/concierge and valet/bell hop went above and beyond to make our stay memorable. They gave us great suggestions on where to eat, where the best sitting spots were for wild life and what the best companies were for excursions. Additionally, the valet’s always put on new gloves to handle your vehicle, the rooms were immaculate and they use a special UV system to sanitize the rooms between guests.
Day 1: Wildlife and Grand Tetons
We drove about 15-30 minutes from our hotel and found our first wildlife, Bison and Antelope. It was amazing to see these animals right on the side of the road. We also made a few stops to take pictures of the Grand Tetons. Then onto Grand Teton National Park (I bought a National Park pass a few weeks prior, that made things much easier). We parked at Jenny Lake and took a little shuttle boat across the lake. From there we hiked up to the Hidden Falls and back to the shuttle boat. Round trip it was about a 1 mile hike on marked trails.
Day 2: Horseback ride and Chuck Wagon dinner
We scheduled a 2 hour horseback ride into the Bridger National Forest that ended with a chuck wagon style dinner. We rode with Mill Iron Ranch, about 20 minutes from our hotel. It is 5th generation family owned and operated. Fairly small group, about 8 people and the guide headed up into the mountains to an elevation of 8500 feet. As we rode, we spotted wild flowers, and stunning views of the Grand Tetons, the Snake River, and the valleys below. To top it off, we headed into the their lodge for our T-bone steak dinner. This is probably one of the best steaks we’ve ever eaten. Mill Iron Ranch is a class act from start to finish!
Day 3: Off road side by side
Today’s tour was a 4 hour round trip ride in our own private side by side off road vehicle with Scenic Safari tours. We followed a guide into the Bridger National Forest for about 30-40 minutes. From there, we were able to start off roading. Surprisingly the vehicle went about 40 to 50 mph. We then climbed to an elevation of 9500 feet with a beautiful view of the fields below. We saw the Grand Tetons, Red Rock formations, Lakes and a few mule deer throughout the 4 hours.
Day 4: Yellowstone National Park
We started off our morning by picking up a lunch at a little market in Jackson. We then headed up to Yellowstone’s lower loop road, about a 2 hour drive (again, you need a National Park pass). First stop was Old Faithful and a picnic lunch. Then onto to Biscuit Geyser, Grand Prismatic Hot Springs, the Canyon Upper and Lower falls, a stop at the Canyon Village store for souvenir’s and ice cream. Then dinner at Canyon Village. We got caught in a few “wild life road jams”, cars were stopped or pulled over on the side of the road to check out what was standing there. At different points we saw Bison, Elk and then a Grizzly Bear (really far out in the distance). Each location we stopped at had parking and a board walk that you viewed the sites from.
Day 5: River Float Trip
We choose a morning float trip of the Snake River with Triangle X Ranch. Apparently morning (and evening) are the best times to spot wildlife. It was a nice calm float of about 10 miles downstream with the Grand Tetons in the back drop in the entire time. We got to spot a lot of bald eagles, and finally Moose the one animal I wanted to see more than any other. We saw a male and female standing at the edge of the river grazing. Our guide was very knowledgeable in all things Jackson/Grand Teton/Snake River, this is one of the biggest things I look for in a tour guide.
Day 6: Hot Air Balloon
I decided to end our trip with the big one, an early morning Hot Air Balloon ride. We had to arrive at Teton Village at 6:15 am. We got to watch/help the team blow up the balloons, and then hopped into the basket for our 1 ½ hour ride. It was a surprisingly smooth and relaxing ride with beautiful views of the Grand Tetons. We were able to spot Elk and fields of horses and cows on different ranches. Again, my big thing is wanting a great guide and our pilot was great. He knew so much about the history of the area, brought binoculars for us to use and pointed out things to look at. He brought us up to an altitude of about 10,404 feet. And then, as all Hot Air Balloon rides do at the end, a champagne toast.
Overall, an amazing trip that I would love to do again. A few notes, bring light jackets and sweatshirts. The weather is about 45 degrees in the morning and then 80 degrees by the afternoon (with minimal humidity). The stores in Jackson range from lower price souvenir shops to buy shirts/sweatshirts/hats to higher priced ones, you can get it all. A few restaurants worth noting: The Bunnery (2 minute walk from our hotel) we ate breakfast and lunch here and both were fantastic. Café Genvieve- we at breakfast here and had delish Huevos Rancheros. The Calico (15 minute drive outside of town)- Italian/American fare, in an indoor/outdoor setting with great service. Yellowstone, there is an upper loop and a lower loop that you can drive. We only did the lower loop, you need at least a full day to do each, if not more. Our roundtrip was 14 hours on our Yellowstone day.
Thank you Allison for letting me share your story. For all our readers, I do hope you enjoyed her journey! I wish I had the space for all the amazing photos she sent me to use. Absolutely gorgeous!
I am a lucky lady to have the honor to work side by side with Lisa Collins. Ocean Cruise phenom and lover of all things Ocean Cruising. Together we are the Lisas.
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