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If you’re looking for a quiet place to stay during peak time at Grand Teton National Park, then the Hatchet Resort near Moran, Wyoming, may be just what you’re looking for! One of the trickiest parts of planning a spring or summer visit to one of America’s national parks is lodging and dining. During the pandemic, we planned a road trip from Missouri to places out west, much like other travelers who didn’t want to risk flying or cruising. It turned out to be an amazing trip, so I thought I’d share one of places we stayed and why it turned out to be a great choice while we explored Grand Teton National Park. Planning the Trip We began planning this trip about a year out. The first thing we booked for our road trip was lodging at Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone. The crazy thing to realize about Old…

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…

One of our favorite experiences at Rocky Mountain National Park was hiking along Bear Lake. It’s a relatively easy hike; the terrain is relatively flat. And here’s a great tip–you don’t have to hike all the way around to see the beauty of the lake. We didn’t. We hiked about halfway and turned around. If you’re looking for a great hike for families in Rocky Mountain National Park, look no further. When Should You Hike Bear Lake Loop When we visited Rocky Mountain National Park, timed entry tickets were required. This is something you definitely want to check into before your trip. You may need to score that reservation before you head out, and sometimes you need to do it a few weeks or months ahead. Bu sure to check out the Rocky Mountain National Park website well in advance as you plan your trip. Most people suggest going to…

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the park we’ve visited the most in the U.S., and Clingmans Dome within the park is one of our favorite places we’ve visited. Named for U. S. Senator and explorer Thomas Lanier Clingman from Ashville, North Carolina, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the park, and this mountain provides gorgeous views from 6,643 feet. Not only are the views stunning, but this outing also provided us with one of our longest in-person bear sightings in the Smokies. Of course, you should obviously keep your distance from all wildlife. The general recommendation from authorities is to maintain a distance of 100 yards from black bears. Do not call out to wildlife to entice it to come closer, and certainly don’t offer food. And though your instinct may be to run, that is also a bad idea. Sometimes, though, you may just be hiking along…

One of the most peaceful yet otherworldly places I’ve ever been to is Canyonlands National Park: Island in the Sky. Located near Moab, Utah, this national park features sandstone mesas and deep crevices surrounded by the Colorado and Green rivers; it looks like the setting of an old-time western movie.  It’s difficult to explain the feeling of looking out into the vast landscape from the top of the plateau.  If you’re in the Moab area, this is a great place to add to your itinerary! Once you’re at the top, the Island in the Sky scenic drive is a great way to see the highlights of this part of Canyonlands. Mesa Arch, probably the most popular hike, is not difficult and is relatively short. Other great features along the drive have paved walkways, making it a great option for families. Getting to Island in the Sky This park is only…

One of the best ways to get an overview of Rocky Mountain National Park is to take a drive on Trail Ridge Road. You’ll eventually climb 4,000 feet and witness different biomes as you make the ascent from the comfort of your vehicle, though we did see some mountain bikers on our trip. Along the way, you may see animals like elk, deer, moose, and marmots, and if you’re like us, you’ll be excited every time you see one. On our visit, we made Estes Park, Colorado, our home base for two nights. When we traveled to Rocky Mountain National Park, we needed a reservation along with a park pass to enter the park, so if you are planning a trip, be sure to check if you’ll also need a reservation. You may be able to enter the park earlier or in the evening when reservations aren’t needed. Just be…

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most accessible national parks for many people in the United States since it sits in Tennessee and North Carolina, and Cades Cove Loop is one of the park’s most popular areas. We’ve spent the most time in this national park ourselves since it’s often on our path to other destinations. Who can resist a quick stop? We certainly can’t. And then there’s this: this park will always hold a special place in our hearts because it’s the area we chose as one of our first vacations together. My youngest child wasn’t even an idea yet! We’ve made some stops since then, but one thing remains true: Cades Cove is simply a Great Smoky Mountains National Park must-do. And, it just so happens to be easy to access by car as you drive the historic loop! Where We Stayed You can enter…

When we planned our road trip throughout the Southwest and up through Utah, I knew we had to stop at Arches National Park near Moab. I’d read blog posts and seen wonderful pictures, especially of Delicate Arch, that most famous of arches that is even pictured on the Utah license plate. As the planning progressed, we decided we needed three nights in Moab to experience all the things the area had to offer, including Canyonlands National Park. We made a cabin in the KOA campground our home base for our adventures in Moab. To read more about our stay at the campground, click here. In the end, we came nowhere near experiencing all the great things in the area, and (spoiler) we failed to make the trek to Delicate Arch. If you’d like to learn some things about our experiences, get comfortable. I’ll share with you what went right and…

If you’re planning a trip to Southwest Missouri, be sure to include a visit to Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. This Civil War battlefield is located near Springfield and just about a half-hour from Branson. It’s a great experience for history lovers and those who love the great outdoors; it’s a great addition to your trip to the Ozarks. We’ve been a couple of times now, both in the summer, though not this summer. My summer advice is to always go early, if you can, to beat the heat. Begin Your Adventure at the Wilson’s Creek Visitor Center Like most places that are part of the National Park Service, the visitor center is a great place to learn a little background and orient yourself to the park. I love the park vehicles parked out front. You can also pay your visitor fees and purchase any souvenirs. My family always gets a…

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