27 June, 2021

Complete Guide to Visiting Yellowstone National Park

 This post might help as a guide while planning the trip to Yellowstone with kids.

Yellowstone National Park is the first National park in the world. This park gives us an opportunity to check the most wonderful hydrothermal and geological features on the earth by walking on the inactive Volcano! Now, coming to the point of How to Plan a Vacation to Yellowstone


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How to reach Yellowstone?

Flying to the airport nearby and renting a car is the best way to reach. The nearest airports are Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Montana (2 hrs to Park), Jackson Hole Airport in Jackson, Wyoming (1 hr to Park),  Idaho Falls airport (2 hrs to Park), and Salt Lake City Airport (4.5 hrs to park).


Image by Mike Goad from Pixabay 

Yellowstone National Park is majorly in Wyoming, but also spreads to some parts of Idaho and Montana.

Entrance Fee:

The fee is $35 / vehicle. There are 5 entrances - South Entrance (near Grand Teton/ Jackson), North Entrance (near Gardiner), west entrance (near West Yellowstone), East entrance (near Cody, Wyoming), and Northeast entrance (near Cooke City, Montana).

Where to Stay?

Of course, there are many lodges inside the park, but they require a reservation at least 8 to 9 months before.  There are many campgrounds as well, but the key is to plan early as summers get crowded and booked too early.

If staying outside, I suggest you stay in West Yellowstone. West Yellowstone is a cool town with great restaurants, hotels, and tourist facilities. The second option is to search around Gardiner. Other entrances might need more driving and beating the traffic.


Image by Olya Adamovich from Pixabay 



When is the best time to visit?

For the first-time visitors, Summer / early spring / early fall are better as they can explore all roads, waterfalls, and hike more.

In winter and late fall, most of the roads might close. Snowmobile and cross country skiing is popular during that time.

Summer is the peak season for Yellowstone. So, expect more crowds, and more traffic jams. Yellowstone is in mountains, so it will be cooler in the evenings even in summer. Shorts are fine for day time but light jackets are suggested for evenings.

If you want to beat the crowds, you may plan to visit in the early fall. Temperatures are moderate during the fall, but a few unexpected snowstorms might occur spoiling the plans, and road closures might be there. 

How many days to spend in Yellowstone?

I feel, 2 to 5 days is best to cover all major places in Yellowstone. Yellowstone national park covers over 2 million acres of land. It is very big. If you see the map, the grand loop covers most of the park. 


https://flic.kr/p/7JYsuX



The Grand loop is like a number eight with 2 loops - lower and upper. This whole loop takes 5 to 7 hrs. But, considering the traffic due to crowds / Bison jams, it takes 2 to 3 hrs to drive each loop (upper / lower) without stopping by at any places.

The upper loop covers Norris Geyser basin ( home to the tallest geyser in the world - Steamboat geyser), Mammoth Hotsprings, Roosevelt arch, Canyon area (Yellowstone waterfalls). Drive to Lamar Valley takes a few more hours which is not part of the loop. 

The lower loop is the region with more action. It covers the Lower geyser basin, Midway geyser basin (Grand Prismatic Spring), Upper geyser basin (Old Faithful), West thumb geyser basin, and Lake Village.

Here are a few tips to decide on the number of days you need to visit Yellowstone in the Summer:

1. The lower loop can be covered in 1.5 days. Lower Geyser basin is pretty quick to cover - Fountain paint pots and Biscuit basic are some that can be covered. This might take around 1 hr, but to reach this place from the West entrance through Madison junction takes 40 mins to 1.5 hrs depending on traffic.

2. Midway geyser basin is the most attractive and vibrant place with colors. A boardwalk to midway geyser basin and hike to Grand Prismatic spring overlook from Fairy falls trailhead will take around 2 to 3 hrs.

3. Even though the Upper geyser basin is famous for Old Faithful which erupts every 45 mins, there are many geysers to look at around here. The trail is around 4.9 miles loop and takes around 1.5 to 2.5 hrs. 

4. So, to cover 1, 2, 3 itself we need 1.5 days minimum. 

5. The next not-to-miss point is Canyon. To cover Upper falls, the brink of lower falls, and various scenic points / overlooks for falls, it takes a minimum of 3 to 5 hrs depending on the hikes you select.

6. Norris geyser basin takes around 1 to 2 hrs and this area is the most active and dynamic place. 

7. Mammoth Hotsprings area has many beautiful terrace springs. To cover all the springs, it might take 1 to 3 hrs, but there are many steps in the trail. Roosevelt arch is just 15 mins away.

8. While the above 7 places are not to miss, Yellowstone has many waterfalls which can be viewed with very little / no hike like Gibbon falls, Keppler cascades, Firehole falls, Tower fall etc., There are also some places like Yellowstone lake, Westthumb lake, West thumb geyser basin, Mud volcano which we can visit on the way driving from one place to another.

To be precise, I suggest a minimum of 4 days if traveling with kids as we need to consider food and restroom breaks.

Where to Eat?

Inside the park, Places like Old faithful, canyon village, Lake village, Mammoth hot springs have gas stations, food, and snack options. These places are good to relax and have lunch/dinner too. 

We loved the sandwiches from the terrace grill at the Mammoth Hot springs area and Oldfaithful lodge. Veg options are available at both of these locations. We didn't find many veg options at Old faithful inn. Lake lodge cafeteria / Lake hotel dining room near Lake village and Canyon cafeteria in Canyon region are good. 


Image by Alejandro Guzman from Pixabay 



Homemade ice cream in City Creamery in West Yellowstone came highly recommended. Huckleberry ice cream at the old faithful lodge is great.

West Yellowstone is a beautiful town with multiple dining options. Jackson is another option for good food. 

What else to Know?

Traffic is terrific in Yellowstone. We visited in mid of June and it's not peak season yet. Still, we got stuck in traffic every day for around 1 hr while entering the park and 1 hr while leaving the park. 

It is common for people to get down for fishing or to watch wildlife near Madison junction which caused many traffic jams for hours. Be prepared for traffic.





As mentioned above, food is available at major junctions in the park-like Old faithful, west thumb, Canyon, Lak Village, and Mammoth hot springs. But, there are queues at some places like Old faithful lodge at any point in time.

Restrooms are mostly available at all major hiking locations but expect queues there as well.

When traveling in summer, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat are mandatory. Carry lots of water. Carry light jackets for evening hikes. 

Since many places have boardwalks, it might look easier, but each trail is a minimum of 1 to a 1.5-mile distance and we walk 5 to 7 miles per day without knowing by just visiting 3 to 4 places. So, plan accordingly if traveling with kids. Carry snacks and drinks like Gatorade to avoid exhaustion.


Broadwalk near Upper Geyser basin



Yellowstone is a big park and it takes a better plan to make the vacation happier. I hope this guide helps you to plan the trip. 

If you have any other questions about planning the trip, please leave your comments. I will reply back as soon as I can.

Happy and Safe travels :-)

Check here to read about visiting Grand Teton National park which is just 40 mins drive from South Entrance. 

Read the detailed Yellowstone travelogue below:

Yellowstone Itinerary Day #1 - Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and West thumb geyser basin

Yellowstone Itinerary Day #2 - Midway Geyser Basin and Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook


Until next time,






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19 June, 2021

Grand Teton National Park trip with kids - What you need to know

Grand Teton National Park trip with Kids

Grand Teton National Park with the majestic Teton mountain range, lush green valleys, and alpine lakes attracts millions of visitors every year.


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What you need to know:

This park is located to the north of Jackson in the Wyoming state of USA. The entry fee per vehicle for a seven-day pass is $35.

The Park can be reachable by flying to Jackson / to Salt lake city and driving around 4.5 hrs on road. 

Top things to do in Grand Teton National Park with kids:

Drive the scenic loop:

One of the must-do things is to drive the scenic loop. We took the scenic drive from Moose Entrance. 

One great thing about the park is that we can see the zigzagged Teton mountains everywhere from the park.


Teton Peak



Some viewpoints with great overlooks are Windy Point Turnout,  Mount Moran turnout, Chapel of Sacred heart, Cascade mountain overlook, Jackson dam, Schwabacher landing, Oxbow bend overlook, Cascade Canyon overlook, and Snake river overlook.


Jackson Dam



This 42-mile long drive takes around 1 to 2 hrs.

Take a boat ride on Jenny Lake and Hike to Hidden Falls:

Jenny lake is the most popular site in the park and parking gets filled pretty quick. 


Jenny Lake



We can either hike around Jenny lake / ride the boat shuttle which runs every 15 mins from South Jenny Lake Junction. With kids, it's better to take a shuttle so that they can hike to hidden falls easily.

The boat ride (round trip) costs $18 for adults and $10 for kids above 2 years.


Hidden Falls



We took the shuttle in the afternoon, hiked to Hidden falls and to Inspiration point. The views are awesome during hikes and boat rides. 

The hidden falls are excellent with a magnificent flow of water. The hike to Inspiration Point is not easy with more elevation and steep path, but we took more breaks and could make it. The view of Jenny Lake from the Inspiration point is unexplainable in words. 

Take a hike to Taggart Lake:

This hike came well recommended for families with kids. Taggart lake trail is around 3.3 miles out and back trail. A few people hike to Bradley lake as well. The trail is an average difficulty level with mostly flat and less elevation.

The lake gives the best reflection of Tetons in the water. We could even get our feet wet and relax a bit with snacks at the lake. 

Click a Photo of photogenic Mormon Row barn:

Most of you might have seen this beautiful barn with the background of the majestic mountains. It's so popular that people set up their cameras with tripods in the early morning and evenings and wait for hours to get a better shot with different lighting. Artists even paint there to cover the gorgeous scene.

Mormon Row is on the Antelope flats road near Moose entrance.

We visited this place in the evening when the sun is still bright. But, photos might be better in the evening.


Image by WikiImages from Pixabay 



Enjoy the food and facilities at Dornan's:

Dornan's near Moose Entrance is a great place to have a quick lunch/dinner or stop by for ice cream and snacks. Chuckwagon Grill provides lunch and dinner options. 

There is a gas station here as well. 

Other Food options:

  • Leek's marina near Jackson lake - Northern part 
  • Mural dining room, Jackson lodge
  • Pioneer Grill in the Jackson Lake Lodge for the best milkshake


Other things to do with kids:

  • String Lake - 4.4 miles - slightly difficult with kids - but possible with many rest breaks

  • A drive through the Jenny lake loop to get Jenny lake overview

  • A drive to Signal mountain

  • Relax at Colter bay - one of the highest alpine lakes in the USA

Hope you liked our itinerary and I would be glad if this helps in your planning.

Please do let me know in the comments how you plan to visit this national park. 

More travelogues on Yellowstone and Idaho follow soon in the coming posts.  

Until next time,



06 June, 2021

The Winter Song by Saurav Dutt - [Book Review]

Book Details:


Title: The Winter Song
Author: Saurav Dutt
Print Length: 171 pages
Genre: Memoir, Contemporary Literature
Source: A free review copy through Rachel's Random Resources





Blurb:


From the acclaimed Author of 'The Butterfly Room' comes a powerful afterlife drama conveying how great gifts can be hidden in death and how they can bear fruit in our lives if we have the faith to let them unfold.

Somewhere between the mountains and the mist in Simla, India a widower must reconcile himself to the loss and grief that haunts him after the recent death of his wife.

Unhinged by grief, anger, and guilt, John Perera has set off on a journey, a journey to honor the love of his life and to fulfil the promise he made to her to uncover the truth behind the mysterious death of their son. It is a journey of extraordinary self-discovery that will take him to the extremities of his soul and question all he believes about life, death, and faith.

Purchase Links


UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Winter-Song-Saurav-Dutt-ebook/dp/B08NFD2ZNS

US - https://www.amazon.com/Winter-Song-Saurav-Dutt-ebook/dp/B08NFD2ZNS

My Review:


The Winter Song is about how death impacts loved ones. It is a poignant story of John who embarks on a journey to fulfill a promise given to her dead wife Asima. On this journey, he realizes the mistakes he made in his life. He also thinks of the opportunities he missed to change some circumstances.

This is the story of grief and guilt. The message is clear - we love our family a lot but we don't show it enough to the family members when they are alive. Of course, the guilt remains when they are no more to express our love and care.

What's great?


The writing is beautiful. A great literary work. But, it is emotionally wrenching and it is a sad read around the death. So, if you are mourning for someone, you will immediately connect to it. If not, it will definitely give you an emotional ride.

The book cover is beautiful and well done. The title is apt too.
The emotions are well expressed - grief, guilt, and love.

What might have been better?


The sequence of events seems abrupt. It would have been good if they had a smooth and clear transition when the narrative goes between current and past. This part is a bit confusing at some times.

It is a slow read and it will take time to get into us (if that's a concern to you as a reader).

My Rating: 3.5/5


PS: I am thankful to Rachel's Random Resources for a free review copy and this is my honest opinion on the book.

About the Author:


Saurav Dutt is an Author, Political Columnist and Human Rights Campaigner. A journalist in three continents, his acclaimed debut novel 'The Butterfly Room' explored issues of domestic violence and homophobia within South Asian communities and has been showcased alongside leading political figures and human rights campaigners. His work for human rights and charity campaign work has taken Dutt to speaking engagements at the WEF, IKWRO, IWN, Houses of Parliament and TEDx.

After exploring the issue of psychological abuse and domestic violence in 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' Dutt was commissioned by a major Hollywood production house to pen the official novelization of the major motion picture 'Tiger' (starring Golden Globe winning and Academy Award nominated actor Mickey Rourke) and he commemorated the centenary of the infamous Amritsar Massacre in India with 'Garden of Bullets: Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh' which was featured in TIME magazine. TIGER is the biographical account of Parminder Singh Nagra, a trailblazing Sikh boxer who fought successfully for the right to compete in the ring with his beard, an essential part of his faith.

A syndicated political columnist, Dutt writes for the International Business Times, The Times of Israel, Human Events, and American Herald Tribune. He has featured on CNN, GQ, Huffington Post, Business Insider, BBC television and radio, RT (Russia Today), Press TV, Sky News, and more. He has been shortlisted several times for the Asian Achievers Awards and Asian Media Awards. He resides in the United Kingdom, Los Angeles, and India.

Social Media Links – @sd_saurav on Twitter

Until next time,


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