Yellowstone National Park (South loop)

The main two routes to go around Yellowstone National Park is the northern and southern circle.

The main two routes to go around Yellowstone National Park is the northern and southern loops.

It did take me sometime to update my road trip in May. I have just gotten pictures from my photographer friend. Hopefully will share with you some Gorgeous photos soon!

You can view this map online via this link.

I found a cabin in West Yellowstone, which is about 20 minutes drive from the west entrance. (It’s very close!) The entrance fee for Yellowstone National Park and the Grant Teton National Park is $25 in total for 7 days. If you have plans to go to Grant Teton as well, please ask for a map at the entrance.

Before entering the park, please pump some gas in your car before it goes out. It’s not that there’s no gas station in the park. But it would save you time since you have to stop all the time for pretty views. Why waste at the gas station? So get gas before you go in. And prepare an additional driver at least if you are not too professional at long-distance driving.

The Southern loop is slightly bigger than the northern loop.

Be honest with you, I always appreciate mountains because I live in the flat land of America, Illinois. I see endless cornfields and squirrels everyday. Not like in the mountains, I see bigger birds, elks, bears and bisons. I am getting excited to share with you this trip in Yellowstone. Like I mentioned before, this was my graduation trip with my parents and their friends. They come from Foshan, southern China, where the annual average temperature is high 60’s F.

When we arrived at West Yellowstone on May 13, from our cabin, we could see the mountain top covered with snow. It was very pretty especially at sunset and sunrise.

On May 14, we started our first day in Yellowstone. We toured the South Loop on the first day. It was a big loop! It took us a full day. It was cold in the morning, hot at noon and chilly in the late afternoon by the time we returned to our toasty cabin.

Seeing bisons was definitely an exciting part. My experience from entering the park three times in a row is that the bisons go to the river in the morning and go back to the mountain in late afternoon and early evening. They tend to block the road by walking in the center. So if you see traffic jam, it’s probably because bisons are walking slowly in front of the cars. Also tourists try to stop, or drive slowly, to take some close-up pictures of bisons, or whatever wildlife they see on the road.

With Old Faithful, there’s a formula to predict. They have the time in the lobby. So check. If you have time, there’s also a burger restaurants nearby within walking distance. But of course, you can wait there as well. The burger restaurant is quite busy at noon. I waited about 20 minutes (But I also have 7 orders of burger and fries).

Although I say I am a summer person, I am not sure if I would like Yellowstone in the summer. Tourism in May is a beginning. From June, when the secondary schools release their teenagers, tourism rise rapidly. I prefer to enjoy the scenes quietly. Tourists come from all over the world to peak at Yellowstone’s preserve forest beauty and wildlife. I just would prefer to stay away from the crowd. In addition, if you are a TRUE summer person, unlike me, who would enjoy the lake or walk in the mountains, July is the best for you then.

I have just gotten some pictures from my professional photographer friend from China. So I am currently editing all of them. The photos below are from my little digital camera. But do enjoy. :)


Salt Lake – Yellowstone

Note: I am writing this post in Salt Lake Airport because we are currently stuck here for the plane’s got some technical issues. I will continue to write about my tour in Yellowstone.

I am graduating!

I graduated!!

Finally, I graduated  and am glad to have my folks with me. So we went on a road trip.

As mentioned in the last post, our first stop was Salt Lake City and Yellowstone. My folks have never been here before and they loved Yellowstone National Park. In regards to flight prices, I recommend Google Flight. Always book early! With Google Flight, you can search within a period of preferred travel dates so that you can find the price or time  that best suit your plan.

Otherwise, there are many travel reservation websites, such as Priceline, Orbitz, Expedia, etc. They are all more or less the same. Sometimes it does help to compare prices if you have you a tight budget. It’s also cheaper to book and travel on weekdays instead of weekends.

We left for Salt Lake from Chicago. Salt Lake (This is what people called Salt Lake City in short) is much warmer than Chicago. My folks come from Foshan, three hours northwest of Hong Kong, where average annual temperature is in high 60s. It was quite chilly for all of them. My mom took my winter jacket for this trip. Well, she’s just not a winter person.

We also rented a full size, 7-passenger, Chevy Suburban for five days and four nights for about 1,200, excluding gas. Not cheap. But we have to fit about 10 suitcases in the back and it all fit. The drive wasn’t bad. We chose the fastest way to get to the cabin, taking 15 North then 20 West. For somebody like me, who have lived in Illinois for the past few years, I get so excited when I drive on curvy and hilly roads and enjoy the mountain view on the side.

We have seven people in total on this trip. Hotels in Yellowstone is about $200 per room each night. With all of us, we need three rooms and stay for four nights. The math here is $200 x 3 x 4= $2,400. Even if the room price drops down to $150, it would cost $1,800. So I thought maybe it’d be fun to rent a cabin by the mountain where we could all stay together. I found Mountain Homes and got a cabin of five rooms for a four-night stay for $1,500! It was such a good deal. They have various locations. The one I rented located in West Yellowstone. Literally, it was about 15 minutes west of Yellowstone National Park of Wyoming in Montana. This cabin is about 10 minutes from town where grocery stores and gift stores are. It was a nice stay.

 

 

 

Too be continued…

Road Trip Again!

Ever since I went on that road trip with my friend last year, I fell in love with forest and wild life and can’t wait to go to other national parks. Graduation coming next weekend, I have two finals and an stressful work schedule. Oh, my parents are bring four friends for my graduation next weekend. Then we decided to go on a little road trip to Yellowstone National Park.

I am so excited! Here I am sharing my two week trip schedule. When I start my trip next weekend, I will update my blog.

5/12 Chicago to Salt Lake City

5/13-5/17 Yellowstone National Park

5/17 Yellowstone National Park to Salt Lake City

5/18 Salt Lake City to Los Angeles

5/21 Los Angeles to Chicago

5/22-5/24 Chicago

 

Stay Tuned.

Spring break 2012: Utah-Arizona Road Trip (Part II)

While I am supposed to share with you my exciting plans for spring break 2013, I decide to tell you my awesome trip last March. It was a 5-day road trip with my friend starting from Salt Lake City, Utah to Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

If you are also thinking about exploring the nature in the west, you can also consider this plan. It was great. I will be glad if you find this helpful: Road trip Part I.

Day 4: Grand Canyon

In the summer of 2011, I went to the west rim of Grand Canyon, which was newer than the south rim in Arizona. I have to the say the south rim is much more awesome. It’s of a bigger scale. We were able to arrive at the Grand Canyon before sunset the day before. There are view points after the entrance where you can park and stop and enjoy the view.

It also has another route that you must take the buses provided from the park. It’s free. (Well, it’s actually included in the entrance admission.)

we had a lazier day: left the hotel before noon and started touring with the bus and stayed until sunset. Sunset at Mather Point was very cool because the color of canyon changed. It was orange, then red, then purple-blue… It was very colorful. Many profession photographers stay hours to take the perfect shot.

Day 5: Grand Canyon – SLC

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 7.22.13 PM

We took Highway 89 from Arizona to Utah, then Highway 9 to stop by Zion National Park, then Interstate 15 to return to Salt Lake City.

Another day of driving. This time, we stopped by at Zion National Park. This park is awesome for summer camping and hiking. In the summer, the creek will also turn into a river. We didn’t have that much time so we stopped by and drove around the park. It has a very cool tunnel. Yet, its driveway was perfectly paved. It was on our way back to Salt Lake City. So why not stop by? I will for sure  go back and visit again.

We took off from Highway 89 to Highway 9 that cuts through Zion National park then we took Interstate 15 to get back to Salt Lake City.

Day 6: SLC -ORD

Catherine and I at the Antelope Canyon, AZ

It was sad to leave the mountains and go back to the cornfield. Driving in Illinois is guaranteed the most boring driving experience you can have. All roads are straight and flat. But it’s definitely safe compared to the up-and-down curvy mountain roads.

Many thanks to Cahterine, who took a lot of pictures and drove with me. It was an awesome trip.

Spring break 2012: Utah-Arizona Road Trip (Part I)

While I am supposed to share with you my exciting plans for spring break 2013, I decide to tell you my awesome trip last March. It was a 5-day road trip with my friend starting from Salt Lake City, Utah to Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

If you are also thinking about exploring the nature in the west, you can also consider this plan. It was great. I will be glad if you find this helpful.

Day 1: ORD-SLC

Travel Packing Guide

Air Fare: Average $300 Round-trip (Direct flight: approximately 3 hr 30 minutes)

I fly so often that I sometimes think it’s just a bus that flies in the air. It’s nothing exciting about flying. Therefore, I always bring entertainment with me. Here’s a packing guide I made a while ago.

Please don’t overpack if you don’t have to. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid due to the purposes, length and weather of traveling. For example, since I was going on a road trip into the mountains in March, I had to pack winter clothes, boots, all kinds of winter gears.

Nowadays, most of the airlines charges average $25 for checking in the first bag.
$$Saving Tips: When travel in group, one can pack the liquid products in one suitcase and check that in rather than checking all your bags. You all can split the cost of $25 to $30 bucks. But the condition here is all other bags are the carry-on size. Otherwise, you just have to check in your bags.

Pack light, travel well.

Honestly, three-hour flight isn’t bad at all. For those who travel internationally periodically, like me, you gotta bring something fun with you to the long flight. When I fly from Hong Kong to Chicago, I always bring books and magazines, download movies in my laptop and keep it under the seat in front of me, download fun apps and games in my iPhone, my journal to write on and the neck pillow (Must-have for long flights and bus rides).

Last, but not the least, wear comfy clothes and shoes. If you are so comfy in your 5-inch heels, that’s fine with me. I really like my sleepers and ballet flats.

When we arrived, we rented a car and explore the city a little. We went back to the Hotel and rest early because we had a long day of driving coming. AN ENTIRE DAY OF DRIVING.

Day 2: SLC- Page, Arizona

YES, THIS IS AN ENTIRE DAY OF DRIVING.

But the scenery was awesome. My friend Catherine found the hidden highway 12 that cut through the mountains.

WARNING: this is not an accurate illustration of Highway 12 of Utah. Please goole map it. It will show you where it exactly is.

WARNING: this is not an accurate illustration of Highway 12 of Utah. Please google map it. It will show you where it exactly is.

We drove on 89, then 24, then 12, then back on 89 for the rest of the drive that took us to our second destination: Page, Arizona.

Highway 12 was awesome because it cut through a few national parks and we were able to stop by and take pictures. We stopped by many times on highway 12 and Bryce Canyon National Park before sunset as well.

Mountain views were stunning, especially I’ve lived in the Great Plains of America for a few years. Driving up and down wowed me. It was fun driving on the curves, too.

It was absolutely gorgeous. But it was a crazy drive because on Highway 12, we were caught in a snowstorm. Visibility was destroyed by snow. Only one lane was drivable, which means I had to pull over when a car or the salt truck was driving towards me.

You gotta have enough gas for the highway 12 though because highway 12 and 89 was literally in between mountains and forest. 

Day 3: Page – Grand Canyon

It was late when we arrived in Page, Arizona. It was a very long day of driving. It was once very warm and then dropped below 32 and came the snowstorm.

Highway 89 was very cool if you drove by during the day. There are cool rocks on the side and arches. But it was getting so late that we couldn’t get any pictures of it.

We stayed the night and the next day, we went on a tour in Page before we took off for our final destination, Grand Canyon National Park. We stopped by Lake Powell, Horse Shoe Band and the Antelope Canyon.

The Antelope Canyon was in the middle of nowhere and unfortunately you have to pay to visit the canyon. It was about $70 admission. A truck will take the group of tourists onto the bumpy and sandy road to the entrance. A tour guide will tell you how much the canyon had been through. It was once flooded where a tree was stuck on top between the canyon. The wavy walls were wavy and cold. I have way more photos of this trip. But they are also draining my library storage. I

I have way more photos of this trip. But they are also draining my library storage. IF you are interested, email me or comment on this. I will let you know more.

Now, flip to Part II for Grand Canyon National Park.