Taking the day to absorb the beauty of nature is the pleasure of my life.
John Muir describes it well: “ Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The wind will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like leaves of Autumn.”
Hiking in our beautiful parks all season around is a must for us. Our goal for this summer was to revisit Yellowstone and to discover Grand Teton.
So, we packed our car and headed for the two NPs for hiking. As luck would have it, the weather was gorgeous and the highways construction free. What else could we ask for?
We took the northern route to Yellowstone NP via Dickinson, ND, because we wanted to check out Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The drive to Dickinson was uneventful, except for an unplanned trip to the “Muddy Boots Sports Bar” in Forada, MN. We had to make the detour in order to provide moral support to Germany playing against Sweden in the qualification round of world soccer cup. It worked, Germany won with a literally very last-minute goal and kept the world cup hopes alive!
We had done Dickinson and Theodore Roosevelt NP 10 years ago. That time we were bringing our youngest, Ilias, to Stanford to start as freshman. Instead of flying out to California we had made it a three-week long family road trip, with Yellowstone NP, Glacier NP and Seattle along the way…. then down south on highway 101 along the beautiful Pacific coast, to Palo Alto. That time Dickinson was our first stop too. But today the town is unrecognizable with lots of new constructions - a result of oil boom in North Dakota, we suppose.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park lies in western North Dakota, where the Great Plains meet the rugged Badlands. A habitat for bison, elk, prairie dogs, and wild horses (check out the pictures of the Dakotas). We were surprised how large this beautiful park is and underestimated the time it took for the Scenic Loop Drive. But it gave us a great overview about the hiking trails of the sprawling park by the Little Missouri River. The park is known for the South Unit’s colorful Painted Canyon and the Maltese Cross Cabin, where President Roosevelt once lived.
Then off to Bozeman, MT. The drive was uneventful, except that we ended up staying in the same hotel where Naim had attended a conference several years ago :-((
From Bozeman to Gardenia is just a stone’s throw. And Gardenia is right at the border of Yellowstone NP.
Yellowstone: What to say about this park? First, it is the birthplace of the U.S. National Park System. Second, it contains of a complex of interconnected public wildlands known as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. “It still has all of the original native mammal and bird species that were present when the first Europeans arrived in North America more than 500 years ago. And with more than 10,000 spouting, streamy, kaleidoscopic geothermal features, Yellowstone holds more geysers than the rest of the world combined” (National Geographic, 2018). No wonder, tourists from all over the world abound.
Like everyone else, we started out doing the typical touristy thing: drive from one location to another, follow the crowd along the trail and do click, click, click, back to the car, drive to the next location etc.
Don’t get me wrong, these places are stunningly beautiful, and visiting is an essential part of the American experience. Each part of the park beckons with its own topographical personality. Take your time and find the one that matches your own. I found myself settled in Lamar Valley. The valley, its glacial meadowlands, is the location for wildlife. We saw many bisons and even made a distant encounter with a grizzly bear.
Grand Teton is located south of Yellowstone. The central feature of the park is the Teton Range. The range includes eight peaks over 12,000 feet (3,658 m), including the Grand Teton at 13,770 feet (4,198 m). Seven moraine lakes run along the base of the range, and more than 100 alpine lakes can be found in the backcountry.
Once there, we made it a point to do nothing but long day hikes. During the five days of stay we did three hikes (1. Taggart & Bradley Lakes, 2. Cascade Canyon and the Hidden Falls, 3. Lupine Meadows Trail), one more beautiful than the other, some taking us up to 9,000 feet high to glacier lakes. The third hike was tough, but the trail itself, and the views along the way were gorgeous! There were tons of wildflowers when we went at the beginning of July. Along the way, we became somewhat acquainted with a black bear, who we encountered five times during our Cascade Canyon hike. Grand Teton offered beautiful hikes besides water streams, meadows filled with flowers, waterfalls, and the view of the iconic mountains.
The other two days, we relaxed strolling through the nice little town of Jackson. Grand Teton now belongs to one of our favorite National Parks.
It was a beautiful and relaxing trip. Grand Teton – we’ll be back!