In all my 44 years of living relatively close to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks I’ve never visited the parks. Friends from Seattle were planning a family road trip and invited me to join them, an invitation I gladly accepted.
My planning ended up being very last minute and options, particularly affordable ones, were limited. Rather than wake way before dawn to meet my friends at the park, I took a half day off work and found a cabin bunk at the Grand Tetons Headwaters Lodge.
It was about 7.5 hours of driving through Wyoming. I didn’t find many photo opps along the way, probably because I’ve made a good portion of that drive on several occasions and find that part of the state pretty boring. As I got closer to the park the scenery improved but the weather turned a bit stormy.
I arrived at the campground about 8:50pm. I was in a bit of a panic when I found the office dark but the sign said they were open until 9 and the door was unlocked. Of course there was no cell reception. I assumed someone would eventually be back to lock the door. Moments later the clerk returned and apologized for needing to step away briefly. Whew!
I was all set for a quiet, electronics free evening. Sadly the cabins sit along a roadway. While it wasn’t as noisy as home, there was still more noise than I was expecting. I did quite a bit of tossing an turning, but I think it had more to do with my excitement than the conditions.
Purple hue in the painted hills on the western edge of the Wind River Indian Reservation
Rolling hills west of Dubois
Sunset over a random pasture
Stormy sunset over the Grand Teton range
Sunset from the Jackson Lake Overlook
January 30 – After spending an exciting weekend in Phoenix with business partners talking about travel and leadership I opted to spend an extra day in Arizona to see the Grand Canyon.
I was up super early so I could get across town to connect with the tour bus. I caught glimpses of the desert sunrise as we made our way to Sedona. I was tempted to nap but our driver, Wayne, was pretty chatty and the scenery was pretty.
Sedona was as beautiful as I’d been told, but cooler than I had expected. Fortunately I’d read enough about the tour to know there can be a 30+ temperature difference between Phoenix and the Canyon so I had packed a jacket.
The bus dropped us at a coffee shop for a comfort break. Coffee and a sack lunch in hand I went for a little walk hoping to find an angle that would give me a nice view of the rock formations without the sun glare.
From Sedona we took a spectacular scenic drive through Oak Creek Canyon. It was covered in a nice blanket of snow from a storm that had gone through a few days earlier. We carried on through Flagstaff and made a brief stop at the Cameron Trading Post on the Navajo Reservation. Along the way I attempted to take some pictures of the Painted Hills but they don’t do it justice.
My first glimpse of the canyon was as awe-inspiring as I expected it to be. Talk about a seat with a view.
We stopped at several viewpoints on our way to the Grand Canyon Village. Each with its own unbelievable view of the canyon. It was hard to grasp the enormity of it all.
Painting the canyon
The view at the village was nice too, but I found the other viewpoints far more interesting. For reference our tour entered through the East Entrance of the South Rim, toured West for ~25 miles to Grand Canyon Village.
From the village we made our way back to Phoenix. It was a long day but certainly worth the time and effort.