Here we are again after our Las Vegas trip celebrating my 70th birthday on February 4th - 2010, planning another trip, this time to Yellowstone Park.  I have never been there but Gail has so she knows all the best spots to drive to for the best sight seeing and hopefully Champagne!   Below is a short history of Yellowstone and the Grand Teton National Parks.  And after the short histories you can read about our itinerary and our daily adventures while visiting Yellowstone and the Teton National Park in the daily diary I kept during the trip!



Check out the photos we took on our trip to Yellowstone on this link!


Check out this link to see a map of Yellowstone & the easiest way to get to the Tetons!


A Short History of Yellow Stone & the Grand Tetons:


Yellowstone Park - a short history:  Established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming, though it also extends into Montana and Idaho. The Yellowstone was the first national park in the world, and is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful Geyser, one of the most popular features in the park.   It has many types of ecosystems, but the subalpine forest is dominant.

Indigenous Americans have lived in the Yellowstone region for at least 11,000 years. The region was bypassed during the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the early 1800s. Aside from visits by mountain men during the early to mid-1800s, organized exploration did not begin until the late 1860s. The U.S. Army was commissioned to oversee the park just after its establishment. In 1917, administration of the park was transferred to the National Park Service, which had been created the previous year. Hundreds of structures have been built and are protected for their architectural and historical significance, and researchers have examined more than 1,000 archaeological sites.

Yellowstone National Park spans an area of 3,468 square miles (8,980 km), comprising lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges.   Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in North America and is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest super volcano on the continent. The caldera is considered an active volcano; it has erupted with tremendous force several times in the last two million years. Half of the world's geothermal features are in Yellowstone, fueled by this ongoing volcanism.   Lava flows and rocks from volcanic eruptions cover most of the land area of Yellowstone. The park is the centerpiece of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the largest remaining, nearly intact ecosystem in the Earth's northern temperate zone.

Grand Teton National Park - a short history:   The park is a United States National Park located in northwestern Wyoming, south of Yellowstone National Park. The park is named after the Grand Teton, which, at 13,770 feet (4,197 m), is the tallest mountain in the Teton Range.

The name "Tetons" originally was intended to describe several hills near the town of Arco, Idaho. They were named by a French trapper who thought that they resembled the female body. (Ergo tétons, the French word for "nipples" or "teats".) Many years later the name was mistakenly applied to the mountains of present day Grand Teton National Park due to the poor map-making and map-reading standards of the time.

Grand Teton National Park was established on February 26, 1929. The park covers 484 square miles (1,250 km) of land and water.  There are nearly 200 miles (320 km) of trails for hikers to enjoy in Grand Teton National Park.

Jenny Lake - a short history:  Jenny Lake, formed by melting glaciers about 60,000 years ago, is a beautiful blue mountain lake set in the heart of Grand Teton National Park, at the base of Teewinot Mountain. On the west side, the lake touches the Teton Mountain Range. The lake is about 260 feet deep at the deepest point.   Jenny Lake is the starting point for numerous hiking trails in the area, including Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls. There is a 6.6-mile long trail that winds around the entire lake.

Begin your trip at Jenny Lake Visitor Center, which has a large parking lot. Once at the Visitor Center, you can decide to follow the trail around the lake or take the shuttle boat to the other side. Jenny Lake is one of the most visited spots in the park, so you should expect at least a short wait at the boat dock.   The shuttle boat landing is at the Cascade Canyon trailhead which also leads to Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls.



Getting to the Park Roads in the Park



Gail wrote me the following itinerary on February 18th, 2010:   We have to fly Skywest (an Embraer 120 jet that seats 20 people) from Salt Lake City to West Yellowstone. The only afternoon flight leaves SLC at 4:50 p.m. and arrives WYS at 6:14 p.m.  Reservations have to be made through Delta (I can do that).  Price is $247.50 each round trip and that won't change.  At this point, Southwest, Delta and United all fly SFO to SLC and LAX to SLC.  Price now is approx. $200 each, but I'm sure that will get lower in a month or so.  We can meet up at SLC in the afternoon.  The car rental is $246 for the 4 days ($123 each) and hotel is $536 for 4 nights ($134/night or $67 each per night).   It appears to me it will cost us each approx. $1,000 for the trip (about the same as the Vegas trip).     I made both reservations today, February 22nd, 2010. Car reservation is the same price quoted, $246.56, but I forgot to ask the taxes for the hotel room  (2 queen beds).  They are 10% (wipes out the 10% auto club discount for the room) making the daily total $148.51 ($74.26 each).

March 14th, 2010:  Gail checked Southwest, Delta and United this morning to see how flights are shaping up.  Southwest doesn't have any non-stops from LAX to Salt Lake, so I'll fly Delta.  You could take Southwest through Denver.  United doesn't have great times for you.  You'd either have to leave SFO early morning and spend most of day in SLC or take an afternoon flight that doesn't leave any time for flight delays.  Delta has better times but is more expensive.   Think it's going to be $500 plus for both of us.  Just some food for thought.

Daily Diary of Our Vacation:


San Francisco to Salt Lake City and on to West Yellowstone


June 14, 2010

Day 1:  I leave San Francisco airport SFO on South West Airlines to Salt Lake City SLC and from there, fly Skywest (an Embraer 120 jet that seats 20 people) from Salt Lake City to West Yellowstone - WYS.   Gail leaves from Los Angeles, LAX airport and meets me in Salt Lake City.  Flight from SCL to WYS is scheduled for 4:50 P.M. departure and arrives around 6:00 P.M.   Airline reservations have been made as follows:

Southwest Airlines:  Leave San Francisco (SFO) at 7:45 A.M.   Arrive in Phoenix at 9:40 A.M.   Arrive in Salt Lake City at 1:30 P.M.

Skywest Airlines:  Leave Salt Lake City (SLC) at 4:50 P.M.  Arrive in West Yellowstone (WYS) at 6:00 P.M.   Pick up car rental.

We went to the hotel and then found a nice restaurant and sports bar.  We had our first dinner there with our first champagne and found out they were going to have the Lakers and Celtics game on Tuesday and Thursday nights.


Yellowstone Park

June 15, 2010 Day 2:  We went to the geysers and were lucky as it was sunny and warm.  We also saw herds of buffalo and elk but no moose! 

We went to the Old Faithful Inn and had a great lunch and then proceeded to the second story balcony to view Old Faithful. 

Just as we were ready for the big production number it started to pour but we were lucky as there was a roofed in area on the deck.

We went to the sports bar for dinner and three bottles of champagne and the Lakers won!


Yellowstone Park

June 16, 2010 Day 3:  Today we woke up to snow flurries but they were light and we drove all day to see the Grand Teton Mountains.

The morning was clear but gradually it clouded up and in the afternoon after our lunch at the Teton Village, we got caught in a terrible thunder and lighting storm but in between squalls we did some photos of the mountains but, it wasn't worth going to Lake Jenny. 

Tonight we ate at a local restaurant and had 'pulled pork' and French fries and just a glass of chardonnay!


Teton National Park & Jenny Lake

June 17, 2010 Day 4:  Today we visited Mammoth Hot Springs and loved the location, lots to see.  

Hot Spring Cones and water falls of sulfur and minerals.  Then we proceeded to see the Tower Falls and on to the Lower and Upper Gorge Falls.  

All great views plus the volcanic action we viewed as driving along.

Tonight was our last night and we had another three bottles of champagne and the Lakers won!


West Yellowstone to Salt Lake City and on to San Francisco

June 18, 2010 Day 5:  Today we fly back to San Francisco and Los Angeles!  Our flight from WYS is scheduled to leave West Yellowstone and arrive at 1:00 P.M. in SLC.   Airline reservations have been made as follows:

Skywest Airlines:  Leave West Yellowstone (WYS) at 11:40 A.M.   Arrive in Salt Lake City (SLC) at 1:00 P.M.

Southwest Airlines:  Leave Salt Lake City (SLC) at 3:50 P.M.   Change planes in Las Vegas.  Arrive in San Francisco at 8:20 P.M.

I almost didn't make it home as the winds in the mid-west were so strong that flights were two hours or more late.  Later I heard the Willard Tower, used to be the Sears Tower in Chicago had windows bloom out of it!  I did make it home on a different flight and when I got off of our subway system, BART, I was almost blown away from a terrible freezing wind.  Go figure, it was warmer the day before in Yellowstone with snow flurries!

But all in all, a great trip with Gai!


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Created by Charles W. Buntjer

Published on: 2010.02.05

            San Francisco

Updated on: 2016.04.14