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Yosemite Valley Lodge turned out to be the perfect place to relax on our trip. When planning our trip to Yosemite National Park, one of the first things we narrowed down was lodging. Since national park lodging can fill up early, it’s best to plan your trip a year out or more. And though I would’ve loved to stay at the flagship lodge, The Awahnee, it’s a little pricy. Since we were on a three-week road trip, we chose a more economical choice this time–Yosemite Valley Lodge. On this road trip, we’d already had several adventures that included four national parks–Grand Canyon, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Death Valley. We’d also been to some great cities (and towns) in California–Lone Pine, Monterey, and San Francisco. Even after all those experiences, we still were awed by the sheer beauty of Yosemite. It’s like no other place we’ve seen. Arriving at Yosemite Valley…

Monument Valley is just one of those places everyone should see at least once. The landscape is breathtaking, and when you’re at Monument Valley, it feels like you are in a completely different world. Located within the Navajo Nation in Utah, Monument Valley is a sacred place to the Navajo, or Dine, their name for “the people.” Jeff, Kristin, and I are so grateful to experience a moment in this special place. Our visit is one that we will never forget. It’s no wonder that so many great Westerns and other films were made here. The land, for the most part, looks the same as it has for centuries; it’s absolutely stunning. It’s also wonderful that the Navajo continue to welcome visitors to Monument Vally, and that there is a pretty unique place to stay with breathtaking views. The View Hotel is the perfect place to stay for a night…

As we planned a trip to Yellowstone National Park, we quickly discovered that we needed to spend some time in Grand Teton National Park, as well.  I’d never heard much about this park, but when I saw others planning their trips, I realized that the parks were so close and it would be a mistake to miss this beautiful park. This is our experience. When I plan trips, I like to know what others have done. Hopefully, our experience can help you plan your trip! Planning Our Trip to Grand Teton National Park As we planned the trip a year out, we initially planned to spend two days in Yellowstone and one day in Grand Teton. We soon realized we wanted more time. In the end, we spent just the right amount of time in both parks with three days in each. To read about our Yellowstone adventure, click here.…

You may find this hard to believe, but the Lodge at Bryce Canyon is my favorite national park lodge. We’ve even stayed at Old Faithful Inn. On my birthday. While sleeping in Old Faithful Inn is one of my favorite travel experiences, there’s something special about the Lodge at Bryce Canyon. We didn’t stay in the main lodge; we had an adorable cabin a stroll away from the canyon’s edge. While we only stayed here one night, this experience will always hold a special place in my memories. One thing I’d like to mention early on in this post—make reservations early! When we booked Old Faithful Inn and Yosemite Valley Lodge, we made the reservation a year out. I know those are more popular, but don’t wait too long to book. It’s January as I write this post, and there are already dates in May and June without availability. Arriving…

When we visit national parks, we often stay on-site in a national park lodge if it makes sense for that visit.  For our first visit to the Grand Canyon, we knew we wanted to check out the Grand Canyon Village, so why not stay the night there? Located at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in the northwest corner of Arizona, Grand Canyon Village features lodging, shopping, and dining options right along the canyon. There are several benefits to staying right on property at a national park lodge; one of our favorites is to see park features at different times of the day. We hoped that during our Grand Canyon visit that we could see the light changes at sunset and sunrise. Another benefit is that often the day visitors thin out as dusk approaches and you may get to experience the park with fewer people. And often, national…

If you spend enough time driving Route 66 and learning about the highlights along the way, you’ll inevitably stumble upon the El Rancho Hotel and its movie star history. When we found ourselves driving through the American Southwest, we couldn’t resist staying a night. Located right on Route 66 in Gallup, New Mexico, this historic hotel is not only a fun place to sleep, it’s also a fun Route 66 attraction that will have you looking in every nook and cranny for its surprises. History of El Rancho Hotel In the 1930s, a man named R.E. Griffith, known as Griff, came to Gallup. He liked the area enough that he decided to build a hotel, so he hired Joe Massaglia to build the hotel on Route 66. In 1936, the hotel was completed. Griff’s brother, movie director D.W. Griffith, used the hotel to house movie stars and production crews that…

Many Glacier is simply one of the most beautiful places on earth. Located on the east side of Glacier National Park, Many Glacier is often overshadowed by other highlights of the park, like Going-to-the-Sun Road and Lake McDonald. Though we loved exploring those places, there’s something peaceful about Many Glacier, and this area turned out to be a favorite of the entire family. When we return to Many Glacier one day, we hope to spend more than a few hours in this place. Though the pictures don’t do the area justice, and the smoke from wildfires drifted through the air during our visit, I’ll do my best to persuade you to make Many Glacier part of your Glacier National Park experience. Getting to Many Glacier We drove to Glacier National Park from West Yellowstone, so during our planning, we made reservations to stay the first night in the area at…

Ever since I learned that the historic Old Faithful Inn was a place, I knew I needed to stay there one day. My dream was realized this summer when we made our first visit to Yellowstone National Park. We also happened to stay on my birthday. How amazing is that? National park lodges sell out quickly, so we booked our two nights at Old Faithful Inn about 11 months in advance. If you’re planning a trip to the most popular parks, I certainly recommend planning your trip a year out so you won’t have to settle for anything less than what you want to do. Plus, you’ll have all year to look forward to your awesome trip! Disclaimer: One thing I should point out right now–Old Faithful Inn is NOT a luxury resort with all the bells and whistles. In fact, if you stay in the Old House like we…

If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, be sure to put Storytellers Cafe on your to-do list! Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Buffet was a wonderful memory for us. One of my favorite things to do on a Disney trip is to try fun restaurants and meet our favorite characters. Luckily, Disney allows you to combine both of these into one experience. Character dining is something we always make time for on our trips. When I saw the adorable outfits the characters wore at Storytellers Cafe, I knew we had to give it a try! Visiting the Grand Californian Hotel Storytellers Cafe is located in the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. What’s cool about this hotel, besides the architecture and theming, is that it has a private entrance to Disney California Adventure Park. You can walk out of the resort and into Grizzly Peak, the park of the…

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