Jul 26

Moose Falls: Yellowstone National Park

27958543134 3fbe77ca6b z Moose Falls: Yellowstone National Park
Moose Falls is the warm up act to the wonderful waterfalls that can be seen in Yellowstone National Park.  Located about a mile and half from the South Entrance to the park.  It is easily bypassed by many visitors.  Don’t be one of them.  It is easy to do. There is a short parking lot past the bridge crossing Crawfish Creek.  In fact, we bypassed it the first time and had to turn around.
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Access to Moose Falls is via a short but steep trail.  The hike only last for about 100 yards.  The perfect beginner hike for those not looking to go far.  It is also a good spot to get out of the car upon entering the park or a last chance stop before leaving.  At just 30ft, Moose Falls, is not going to have the wow factor that others in the park will have.  However, it is definitely scenic enough to warrant a stop.
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At one point in the parks history it was a popular swimming hole during the warm summer days.  Now there are several signs posted asking people not to swim.  There is a little trail that goes to the base of the falls.  It is rocky and steep so watch your step.  Overall, Moose Falls is an easy walk to get to.
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Remember that you are in wild country and it can be dangerous if you do not use common sense and sound judgment. Not only are the animals wild but so is the land and getting too close to either can make a great vacation go sour and even be deadly real quick. Animals will protect themselves, their area, and young while the geothermal areas are fragile and dangerous so stay on assigned paths. If you use caution and are prepared Yellowstone will be a great life experience and please leave it just as you found it so the next person can enjoy. Happy Travels!!!

Moose Falls:
100 yards from the small Parking lot
Easy Level Hike
5 Minutes

To see all of our reviews of things to do in Yellowstone National Park click here and for more information about the park go to their website at http://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm

28575761445 c12e254cd2 z Moose Falls: Yellowstone National Park

  • Waterfalls of Yellowstone

There are many waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park to choose from, some are roadside falls like Moose Falls, Gibbon Falls, Rustic Falls, Undine Falls, Lewis Falls and of course the extraordinary Upper and Lower Falls while others require a hike to see like Lost Creek FallsFairy Falls or Mystic Falls. Whatever your plans are when you visit Yellowstone National Park make sure you seek out some of the great waterfalls that can be found in the park.

Jul 24

Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve: GTNP

28243837650 691e3a8c0b z Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve: GTNP
Laurance S. Rockefeller offers a bit of serenity to a crowded National Park experience.  It is a little off the beaten path on the Moose-Wilson Road.  Plus, the fact that the parking lot has a limited number of car spots.  Those two things make for an inviting day of finding a little bit of space for oneself in what can be a packed Grand Teton National Park experience.   Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve is a great place to feel that connection with nature.
28449700211 a0ccb023bc z Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve: GTNP

The 8 miles of hiking trails lend the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve to be an all day excursion.  The trail can easily be extended to other areas of the park if you are looking for more miles to trek.  However, with the ease of most of the trails along with the wonderful visitor center it can also serve as a nice stop as the rest of the park beckons.  Even if it is just a hike I highly recommend getting out there and hitting the trail.  The Laurance S. Rockeller Preserve’s trails pass through forests, wetlands, and meadows.
28527476765 46f7693194 z Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve: GTNP
On our particular visit to the preserve we were just scouting the area out.  We spent what time we had there around the visitor center, walking the short trail to the waterfall, and short way to Phelps Lake before turning back.  We had the plans to take the highly praised trail to Phelps Lake another day.  Unfortunately, we just ran out of time at the Tetons so will have to save that trip for another day.
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I can definitely see us spending a lot more at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve.  Walking the Phelps Lake trail.  Maybe even steeling up the nerve enough to do the rock jump into the lake.   While we did not see much in the form of wildlife we also did not venture that far from the visitor center.  However, I have heard it is great spot to see some.  That makes sense to us because some of our best luck of animal spotting has been along the Moose-Wilson road.  Just thinking about it is getting me excited about going back.  Now I just have to talk the wife into it again.  I think she is hoping for some place with a beach next time.  We shall see!

For our reviews of other Wyoming Attractions like the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, click here

Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve
Located 4 miles south of Moose on the Moose-Wilson Road
Open: The visitor center usually opens beginning of June thru September 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (dates vary)
Entrance fee to the National Park will get visitors into the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve

Jul 22

Jenny Lake Shuttle: Grand Teton National Park

28378154582 11f4fa486b z Jenny Lake Shuttle: Grand Teton National Park
Jenny Lake Shuttle is a time, leg, and back saver.  While not losing any of the scenic value of spending time in the Jenny Lake area of Grant Teton National Park.  The views from the water are spectacular.  It cuts off nearly 5 miles (roundtrip) from the hike to Hidden Falls.  For me the time saved as well as the millage is well worth the Jenny Lake Shuttle fee.
28378151582 5974f91f90 z Jenny Lake Shuttle: Grand Teton National Park

Personally I enjoyed the shuttle trip much more than the trail around Jenny Lake.  I like to hike and the Jenny Lake hike is a nice one.  However, with just so much to see in the park I like the time and energy saved to see other parts of the Tetons.  The Jenny Lake Shuttle is just a short ride over only lasting for a handful of minutes.  Soak in the mountain scenery over the water quickly because it won’t last.
28451098476 00c38acf0a z Jenny Lake Shuttle: Grand Teton National Park
Once over to the other side of the lake it is 1- mile round trip to Hidden Falls and 1.9 miles to Inspiration point a viewpoint that overlooks Jenny Lake.  Both hikes are easy to moderate since they take some gain in elevation to reach.  Luckily if you ever need to take a rest it’s a beautiful spot.  It is a fun little hike.  Very scenic as it crosses Cascade Creek on wooden bridges and works its way towards Hidden Falls.  The name is aptly put especially in 2016.  As the dead-end trail to actually see the falls is off limits because of park service work on erosion of the trail.   We could only get hints of the waterfall through the trees.  We had seen it years earlier (picture below) but wish we could have seen it again.  Maybe next time.
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After heading back from Hidden Falls we took the fork in the trail towards Inspiration Point.  This is where the hike gets a little bit more difficult.  As this part of the trek was steeper than the trail to Hidden Falls.  Once again there are scenic views all around so wherever you stop is the perfect spot to take a breather.
27867691883 b3e32fec52 z Jenny Lake Shuttle: Grand Teton National Park
Past Inspiration Point the trail continues on through Cascade Canyon.  Once again this part of the trail was closed when we were there in June.  So make sure you check with a Park Ranger or the Grand Tetons website for the most current information.
28405018601 0eeedb0684 z Jenny Lake Shuttle: Grand Teton National Park

The view from Inspiration Point to me fails to be inspiring.  Not that it is not nice.  It is just that the rest of the country is so beautiful Inspiration Point losses some of its mystic.  All the hard work was already put in so the trail back is pretty easy.  All downhill.  Once back to the west dock it was just matter of waiting for the next boat back.  We did not have to wait long the Jenny Lake Shuttle runs about every 10 to 15 minutes.  The trip back was just as beautiful as going.

To see our reviews of other Grand Teton National Park attractions like the Jenny Lake Shuttle, click here

28451061416 5f06ccc440 z Jenny Lake Shuttle: Grand Teton National Park

Jenny Lake Shuttle
Located near the Jenny Lake Visitor Center
Prices as of this Posting Adult RT $15, Senior $12 & Children $8 One Way Trip Adult $9, Children $6
For more information about the Jenny Lake Shuttle visit their website at https://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/jlfaqs.htm

Jul 19

Landscape Photography Number 11: Mount Moran

28423645325 9dccb99f12 z Landscape Photography Number 11: Mount Moran

Grand Teton National Park is a photographer’s paradise.  It allows the simplest of amateurs to walk away with postcard worthy shots.  That is why I like this place so much.  From Mormon’s Row to Colter Bay a scenic view is always within the frame.

This picture of Mount Moran was taken midmorning along the String Lake Trail.  There was a slight wind so the reflection was not as crisp as I was hoping for when I took off for the hike.  Not that it matters that it did not come out perfect.  I loved the hike anyway.

I like this picture for a few reasons.  The playful wisp of clouds next to the mountains reminds me of all those vacation days we have been on where the sky is completely cloudy or not a cloud in the sky.  (I’m always hoping for little contrast up there).  Another thing that sticks out to me is the tree lines, the Mount Moran skyline, and the end of the waterway all converge at one spot.  Like the center point of an X.  Like all my photos I just try to do my best with what God has created.

To see my list of top 25 landscape photographs, click here

Jul 17

String Lake Trail: Grand Teton National Park

28301825761 7cbcf64003 z String Lake Trail: Grand Teton National Park
The String Lake Trail is a good trek to take in the land of abundant views.  Honestly, a person really cannot go wrong in whatever they choose to do in Grand Teton National Park. Where to go. That is the hard part.  Luckily just about everything in the park ranks from jaw dropping to eye opening.  Grand Tetons National Park is truly an amazing place.  Hiking the String Lake Trail is just another way to take it in.
27764067084 ee8551ed5c z String Lake Trail: Grand Teton National Park

An easy trail.  String Lake Trail is a 3.7-mile loop in which half of the hike runs along String Lake.  The trail is relatively flat through it does have a slight incline once we moved away from the lake.  If short of time just hike the lakeside trail.  The other part is nice but after the reflective views of mountains on the String Lake is impossible to beat. Once completing the loop take a dip in the lake.  Since String Lake is shallow the water is relatively warm for a high altitude lake.  Makes for a great way to cool off after the hike.
28380573615 9b9a15d969 z String Lake Trail: Grand Teton National Park
We took the trail early in the morning which is a common theme when we visit national parks.  Getting out before the crowds is a simple way for us to enjoy the parks more.  Another benefit of going early is the better chance for still water to get those water reflecting photographs.  Of course even if I shut my eyes, spun around three times stopped and took a picture I would end up with a decent shot.  That is just how magnificent the land is there.
28301840321 c622113e76 z String Lake Trail: Grand Teton National Park

String Lake is located just a few miles from the North Jenny Lake Junction.  For those that are not wanting to hit the trails.  The area is also great for a variety of water activities from stand up paddle boarding to canoeing.  Just remember your own personal limitations as well as be bear aware. Do those two things and fun in the park almost becomes limitless.

To see our other reviews of Wyoming attractions, click here

28301804231 04e625a838 z String Lake Trail: Grand Teton National Park

String Lake Trail
Location: Turn west off the Teton Park Road at North Jenny Lake Junction and continue roughly 1.5 miles to the String Lake Trailhead.
Distance 3.7 Mile Loop
Trail Difficulty Easy

Jul 15

Colter Bay: Grand Teton National Park

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Colter Bay is scenic bliss.  Out of the unlimited amount of spots to take in the postcard worthy Teton Mountains Colter Bay is my favorite.  But there is a caveat.  Early morning is a must.  Not to get that first “photographers” light purple haze… water reflected… this is going on the wall photo you will get.  No..No..No.. It is to beat the bustling activity and the mob that will descend down on Colter Bay.
27720364853 49be919186 z Colter Bay: Grand Teton National Park

I love Colter Bay it is one of my favorite parts of Grand Teton National Park.  There are tons of things to do there and we have not sampled them all yet.  We need our girls to be a little bit older for us to feel comfortable for a boat rental or horseback rides.  The hiking is great there.  I do recommend the short Lakeshore Trail and the other hiking opportunities the area has to offer.  While all those things look great and those that we have experienced have been great.  Nothing beats the calm serenity of having a little peace and quiet looking over the water and taking in the views.
28232614002 4f3fa985cf z Colter Bay: Grand Teton National Park
It is a fleeting moment, but I got it.  Arrived early a little after sunrise and walked towards the marina.  Hardly a soul in sight.  I went right next to the water’s edge and knowing we would not be back for a few years, tried with all my might to drink it in with all my senses.  Breathing in the cool mountain air off the water.  The scent of the wild flowers and evergreens.  Seeking out natures beauty.  In a world that seems to have more chaos than calm, I want my memory to take me to places like Colter Bay.
28302495176 3d8223c9ca z Colter Bay: Grand Teton National Park

Then the moment passed.  I turn to my parents who were being flagged down by another Kansas fan as he recognized my dad’s hat.  This new acquaintance ended up being the gentlemen who manages the marina.  Out having his morning coffee before his day gets busy.  Wonderful guy who is living a fascinating life.  Former KU football player who played with Kansas Comet Gale Sayers, runs a marina in the Caribbean during the winter, and had an affinity for the many visitors to his marina.  Never would have had that nice conversation unless it was during the quiet hours of the park.  Soon things were getting busier we said our goodbyes and went off to see more of the wonderful area.

Being in such a scenic National Park is always special to us.  However, what makes for lasting memories is finding the quiet spaces to truly take it in.

To see our reviews of National Park attractions like Colter Bay, click here*

Colter Bay
Located at Northeast side of Jackson Lake about 10 miles North of Moran Entrance Station.
Fees as of this Posting $30.000
For more information about Colter Bay visit their website at https://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/colter.htm

Jul 12

Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway

27993497210 32db99f5f2 z Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway
The Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway is twenty-two miles of bliss.  A scenic highway that winds its way through some of the prettiest parts of the Black Hills.  While just a short drive, The Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway packs in a lot of nature’s beauty.  From the colorful canyon walls to three wonderful cascades Spearfish Canyon is a must see in South Dakota.
28274857345 05185d8be6 z Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway

Located at Spearfish Exit 10 on Interstate 90. The Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway can be either a fun little detour off the Interstate or multi-day excursion.  My wife and I went with the all-day package which included stops at Bridal Veil Falls, Roughlock Falls, and Spearfish Falls.  This is also several hiking options including the 76 Trail, Rimrock Trail, and the Native Botanical Gardens Trail.   For those ‘car only’ travels there are various scenic pullouts to stop and take in some of the natural beauty of Spearfish Canyon.  The Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway is a nice all around stop for any type of vacationer.
28196443941 3556f04d56 z Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway

For multiple reasons we really enjoyed this drive.  First it was short and not very windy.  Having a daughter that is prone to carsickness the less turns and loops the better.  Second we really like waterfalls and Spearfish Canyon has three really nice ones.  Third most of the trails are relatively short so we can do multiple hikes in one day.  Summed up this little road made for a great full day.

To see our reviews of other scenic drives, click here

Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway
Located at Exit 10 off I90 in Spearfish
For more information about the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway visit their website at http://www.spearfishcanyon.com/scenicbyway/index.html

Jul 10

Bridal Veil Falls: South Dakota

28121290762 e1d7af9e5c z Bridal Veil Falls: South Dakota
Bridal Veil Falls is the easiest waterfall to see in Spearfish Canyon.  Located about 6 miles south of Spearfish on US Hwy 14A.  A very scenic highway that we highly recommend.  There is small parking area across the road from the falls.  A nice viewing platform along with the roar of the falls will point the way.  There is not an approved trail to the base of the falls.  However, we saw several people slide down the embankment near the platform.  Cross the creek below and see the falls from the base. Named after the way the water cascades down from the top.  Bridal Veil falls water flows over the edge and thinly shrouds the rock beneath like bride’s veil on her wedding day.  This 60-foot waterfall is the first of three in the area.  A very pretty waterfall to start the trip down the canyon.  Easy to get to.  Bridal Veil Falls is the perfect roadside attraction to take in while visiting the Black Hills.
28191298466 df56a171bf z Bridal Veil Falls: South Dakota

My wife and I have traveled through this part of South Dakota four times before we traveled down Spearfish Canyon.  One of the more scenic areas of the state.  Don’t make the same mistake that we did by bypassing Bridal Veil Falls and the rest of Spearfish Canyon. Such a wonderful place what a great drive.

To view our reviews of other Black Hill Attractions, click here

Bridal Veil Falls: South Dakota
Located about 6 miles south of Spearfish on US Hwy 14A
Roadside Waterfall with viewing platform

Jul 09

Summit Trail: Bear Butte

27584237924 5be0cb4720 z Summit Trail: Bear Butte
Summit Trail, two words that strike beauty and pain.  Usually there is going to be an outstanding view at the top but it is going to take a little bit of hurt to get there.  The Summit Trail at Bear Butte State Park in South Dakota is not the exception.  The Bear Butte Summit is pretty but it did cost the legs a little bit of stress to see it. 
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From a distance Bear Butte just looks like a nice rolling hill.  As a child looking up at mountains I often thought to myself…gee that does not look too hard to climb up.  As an adult you would think I would know better.  I don’t.  So arriving to Bear Butte, around nap time for our first daughter who quickly fell asleep driving the park road.  My wife parked in the shadiest spot we could find and we gave each other a what now kind of look.  I told her I would take our second daughter up the hike.  My wife was okay with that.  We lathered up with sunscreen, strapped her to me with the Baby Bjorn, grabbed some water, and I took off. 
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The trail starts off with a slow incline for the first 100 yards or so but after that it really takes off.  As it rises 1,036 feet over a mile and half.  The path is rocky but defined.  So it is easy to follow.  As for me it was not so much the incline or having a one and half year old strapped to me that made it a more difficult hike than it looked, it was the overbearing sun shining down, high wind, and in places slippery rocks that made it a bit of a struggle.  There are hardly any trees on Bear Butte so we were constantly in the sun.  Also because it rises up from the surrounding prairie the wind was much greater towards the top than when we started the hike.  There was a time or two I thought I was going to lose my little girls hat. 
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There are several switchbacks to help keep the steepness of the incline down.  I take a 3 to 1 approach.  Usually when I hike up hills or mountains with switchbacks I hike 3 in a row and rest on the next 1.  However, most of the time recently I have somebody waiting on me at the bottom so I try to hike fast.  The main thing is take your time, wear sturdy shoes, a hiking stick or poles can help, bring plenty of water, and listen to your body.  At the top of the Summit Trail there is a nice viewing platform with views of the lake below, the Black Hills to the West and vastness of the Great Plains to the east.  It really is a nice little hike. Just make sure you’re prepared and don’t listen to the little child in you that says gee that doesn’t look hard at all. 

To see our reviews of other hikes, click here

Summit Trail: Bear Butte
Trailhead located at the parking lot next to the education center
3.1 miles’ roundtrip
Plan about 2 hours to complete
Difficulty- moderate to strenuous depending on fitness level

Jul 06

Spearfish Falls Trail

28039079412 3242dfe43e z Spearfish Falls Trail
Spearfish Falls Trail is just one of the many wonderful hikes that can be found in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  This short hike descends to the canyon floor.  Where Spearfish Falls splashes into Spearfish Creek.  This is an easy to moderate walk that is less than a mile in length. However, it does drop over 100 feet in that distance. So not hard but depending on your shape you might be huffing and puffing a little hiking out.
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The trail to Spearfish Falls is also considered a nature trail.  There are signs along the way that provide information about the native plants.  The trail begins next to the Latchstring Restaurant located in the Spearfish Canyon Lodge section of Spearfish Canyon.  There is an overlook of the top of the falls looking down just a few feet from the start of the trail.  Don’t let the overlook discourage you from the hike. Though the overlook is not very scenic the rest of the trail is.
28039070412 b3baf033cf z Spearfish Falls Trail
An interesting side note is that the Spearfish Falls Trail goes over an old iron bridge.  The bridge provides nice views of the creek running through the canyon.  After the iron bridge the trail turns rocky as it moves toward the canyon floor.  Once we reached the bottom we were rewarded with outstanding views of Spearfish Falls.  A great little waterfall in South Dakota.

To see our reviews of other waterfalls, click here

27527506844 3c3fbb51a5 z Spearfish Falls Trail

Spearfish Falls Trail
Located directly behind the Latchstring Restaurant at the Spearfish Canyon Lodge
30 mins
Difficulty Level: Easy

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