Midwest National Parks Road Trip

By Freya Renders, Holiday Nomad
March 16, 2015 Updated: March 16, 2015

I just love Road Tripping in the USA. It is so easy to drive around and there is so much to see, especially if you schedule in a few National Parks. During our incredible Go West Road Trip, we were very impressed with the National Parks in the USA. All parks are so beautiful, grand and diverse. We promised ourselves that we would return one day to visit more of these stunning National Parks. In June 2011 we finally made it back and did our fabulous Midwest Road Trip. Our Go West Road Trip included San Francisco, Yosemite NP, Sequoia NP, Kings Canyon NP, Death Valley NP, Las Vegas, Zion NP, Lake Powell NP, Grand Canyon NP, Lake Havasu and Los Angeles. This time we wanted to see different National Parks and included in our Midwest Road Trip Yellowstone National Park, Salt Lake City, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Rocky Mountains NP.

Yellowstone National Park

We started our Road Trip in Billings where we rented a car and took the US212 South to Red Lodge, a very nice historical mountain town. From there we wanted to take the beautiful scenic Beartooth Highway to Yellowstone. Unfortunately this was not possible as the Beartooth pass was closed, so we had to drive around direction Cody and then took the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway – which was also very beautiful and scenic – to Cooke City.

We stayed in the Alpine Motel in Cooke City which is really close to the Northeast entrance of the park. With Cooke City as our base, we explored the Lamar Valley, Mammoth hot springs area and the Tower Falls area. It is very impressive to drive for the first time into Yellowstone. There are Buffaloes everywhere: on the road, next to the road … it was a great experience. Lamar Valley is also a great place to watch wildlife in the early morning.

Waterfall in the south rim of the canyon of the Yellowstone in Wyoming via Shutterstock*
Waterfall in the south rim of the canyon of the Yellowstone in Wyoming via Shutterstock*

Our next accommodation was the Yellowstone Canyon Lodge, centrally located within the park itself, from where we visited the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Old Faithful, Hayden Valley and Yellowstone Lake. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is very impressive, we hiked the North Rim and the Brink of Lower Falls trail which are both recommended short trails. Next day we visited Lake Yellowstone and again nature’s beauty is hard to describe, just wonderful. On our way back to Canyon Village, we passed Fishing Bridge and a bit further we saw … a Grizzly Bear. WoW we were all excited and jumped out of the car and took about 100 photos 🙂

Our last day in Yellowstone, we went to Norris Geyser Basin where we did a short hike, after which we went to Old Faithful, probably the most popular spot in Yellowstone. There we did a very beautiful hike around the Upper Geyser Basin. On the way back to Canyon Village, you never believe what we saw … a Grizzly Bear with 2 cubs … we were so lucky, it’s just incredible. You can see more Yellowstone photos in my Yellowstone Photo Journey post.

We had an amazing stay in Yellowstone and were sorry to leave. We spend a day in Teton National Park after which we drove to Jackson Hole in Teton Village where we stayed a night in the Terra Hotel. We initially did not plan this stop but we were very happy we did, it’s a beautiful place with impressive scenery.

Salt Lake City

We continued our trip direction Salt Lake City, where we visited of course Temple Square. The Tabernacle Organ is very impressive and we were very lucky to hear a rehearsal of the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir, it was so beautiful. The rest of the day we used to explore Salt Lake City a bit more.

(Freya Renders, Holiday Nomad)
(Freya Renders, Holiday Nomad)

Next day we decided to visit the Great Salt Lake, I wanted to hike some trails there as I heard it was a very beautiful and special area. Now it was fur sure beautiful and special, driving on the highway through the Lake is very impressive. In the visitor centre we also learnt a lot about the history of Salt Lake City which was really interesting. Unfortunately it was impossible to hike there or even get out of the car for longer than 2 minutes due to millions and millions of insects. I have never seen so many insects. If we stopped the car for a moment, within a minute our windows were black … full of insects. I’m not sure whether this was because of the time of the year or whether it is always like that but when you visit make sure you are covered completely including hair and face.

Moab

Our next stop was Moab which is an incredible place. I really loved it there. So what did we do here besides relaxing … we did a Jet Boat tour, we went on an amazing white water rafting trip on the Colorado river and of course we visited the famous Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

( Freya Renders, Holiday Nomad)
( Freya Renders, Holiday Nomad)

Both Canyonlands and Arches National Park are stunning. We did a couple trails in Canyonlands National Park and visited next day Arches National Park where we hiked the Devils Garden Trail which was probably one of the most beautiful and special hikes I’ve ever done. After the hike, we visited as many as possible of the Arches. You can find photos of our visit to Arches and Canyonlands NP in my Arches and Canyonlands NP Photo Journey post.

In Moab we stayed in the Red Cliffs Adventure Lodge … what a fantastic place. Red Cliffs Adventure Lodge is located about 14 miles from town but it is so worth the drive. The road to the lodge, along a Canyon, is very scenic. The Lodge itself is located on the Colorado River, surrounded by cliffs. We had a cabin with private patio right on the river, it was so relaxing to have dinner in the evening on the patio looking at the river just in front of you. We really enjoyed our stay here, I could have stayed forever.

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This article was written by Freya Renders and originally published on Holiday Nomad. Read the original here.

*Image of waterfall in the south rim of the canyon of the Yellowstone in Wyoming via Shutterstock

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