We took our first trip to the Rocky Mountain region of the United States and I can officially say that it is my new favorite part of the US. The air was so clean, the landscape was straight out of a painting (Bob Ross’s happy little trees 🌲) and some of the most friendly people I have ever met. On top of that, the area provided so much opportunity for outdoor activities which my family thrives for.
When I originally planned this trip, I set our main destination point as Yellowstone National Park, and while the Park itself is great on its own, we discovered that there was actually a lot to do outside the park. It was a long trek from San Diego, but it was definitely worth it!
Here are some fun things to do in the Yellowstone and surrounding areas! ALL of which I would highly recommend!
WEST YELLOWSTONE, MT
-EXPLORING THE TOWN-
A cute little town just outside the west entrance of Yellowstone. There were a lot of
We ate at a popular pizza joint called Wild West Pizzeria & Saloon. It was a bit crowded and we had to wait about 20 minutes to get a table, but the service was excellent and the food was delicious. The
If you are staying in the area of West, I would advise that you bring a lot of your own groceries (and if you drink, your own booze). The “grocery store” was more like a very limited market straight out of 1992. That being said, there was enough selection to make some great meals while we were camping.
There are two grocery markets in
Talk about culture shock! Us beach folk were in a totally different world when we went to the Wild West Yellowstone Rodeo. It was a blast! Be sure to check out their scheduled times (link to their website above), I believe they only run it in the summer months! My
ISLAND PARK, IDAHO
We stayed in a cool campground in the area. When I booked the trip there were limited choices and I was specifically looking to be a little more removed from a town or city. We stayed about 20 miles outside West Yellowstone at an RV campground called Red Rock RV Park. The sites were large and had full hookups, but most importantly the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful.
-HORSE BACK RIDING-
We used Eagle Ridge Ranch to do a 2 hour guided horseback ride. The guides were super friendly and knowledgeable (matching you to a horse fit best for you), the scenery was beautiful and the ride was easy and relaxing.
Im not going to lie, I was enamored by our native Wyomingite guide and I may or may not have had a girl crush on her. 😂
The ranch also offers a swimming hole with a rope swing, water trampoline and water bikes (and such) that you can use after your ride. It was super cool and fun for the kids!
Not to be confused with the West Yellowstone Playmill Theater, the Yellowstone Playhouse is all about the musical spoofs! You can do dinner and the play for next to nothing! We got to see Pirates of the Car-Rib-Bee-An a spoof on the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, which was perfect because my kids are obsessed with that movie! (sorry no photos for this one, my battery ran out!)
-Meadow Vue Ranch Rodeo-
We loved the Wild West Yellowstone Rodeo so much that we ended up going to one more rodeo. This one was a little closer to where we were staying. The Meadow Vue Ranch Rodeo offers a ranch-style dinner after the rodeo, but if you’re not interested in the meal, you can just go watch the rodeo for $5. And guess what? Sunday won the cattle run! Wahoo!!
-White Water Rafting-
Hands down one of the top things we did on our 17-day camping trip. We used Wild West Rafting and it was the BEST experience. The guides are all super friendly and very good with the kids. My son, who was initially nervous about it, loved it so much he wanted to do it again. The
We brought our own wet suits, but they provide them along with water shoes there. I didn’t get to take any photos, because well… water. Ha!
I wish we had more time to stay in the little town of Gardiner because it looked so frigging adorable but we had to make our way down through Yellowstone National Park. But if you do plan to white water raft, then please be sure to make time to explore the town.
Yellostone National Park
If you go in the summer, be prepared for a lot of people. We only did the north and the west side, but quite honestly we felt like that was enough. Because we don’t like crowds we didn’t do all the famous big attractions and visited all the smaller less popular attractions which was perfect for us.
Unlike other national parks we have visited, (check out my post on my perfect Zion Itinerary) there is really no other way to get around Yellowstone except for in a car. We did one small bike trail which was beautiful but it was pretty uneventful.
And because we hate traffic and crowds (didn’t I already tell you that? 🤪) we didn’t get to much of Yellowstone, but what we did get to was beautiful.
Below is a map of Yellowstone. Circled in red is where we visited. You can see the photos below of each place!
There are a
There are four things I would recommend trying to see within the park: a geyser, a basin, a hot spring
We visited the Grand Prismatic (in the Midway Geyser Basin) and I would definitely recommend going to see it from the overlook as opposed to at surface level because you aren’t able to see the amazing colors from ground level.
On the north portion of the park is Mammoth Hot Springs. There is also a wooden walkway you can use to visit the different spots of the hot springs.
The Norris Basin is awesome, but the walk is LONG and it honestly started to all look the same. Nonetheless, it was still very pretty but also smelly!
We took a little stop to see bison on the road and ended up at a small picnic area right near the midway geyser basin. It was a great little place to chill and enjoy nature.
Like what you read? Was it helpful? Have any other MUST do’s for the area? Feel free to leave a comment or questions! Also how cute is my dog?