Yellowstone's Mt. Washburn, Grand Teton National Park & Salt Lake City

I was finally able to go through the last of our pictures so am doing one last post with highlights from the rest of my vacation. Other posts were:

Day 1: Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Geyser Basin
Day 2: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Artist Paint Pots
Day 3: Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, & Upper, Midway, and Lower Geyser Basins

I've spent so much time recapping this vacation because it was one of my favorite vacations. It ties with our trip to Alaska and our honeymoon in New Zealand for places I've loved the most. Yellowstone is the most unique place I've ever visited, and this area of the country in general is so gorgeous. America truly is beautiful!

Yellowstone: Mt. Washburn

The 6-mile round-trip hike to the summit of Mt. Washburn, at 10,243 feet, is one of the most popular hikes in the park, and for good reason. There are awesome views the whole way up, and at the top are expansive views looking out over nearly the whole park, all the way to Grand Teton National Park.

Because I'd been so hot the other days in Yellowstone and would be hiking up a mountain and getting warm, I wore shorts but knew I'd likely be cold at the top. The parking lot for the trail was just about full when we got there. The trail was an old road originally built for stagecoaches that switched back and forth to the top.

As we got to the top, it got very windy and cold, and there was snow on one section of the mountain. I'd been comfortable until then, but of course I was wearing shorts the only time I felt cold! Even thought it was at a higher elevation, I didn't think the hike was strenuous and was barely ever short of breath.

At the top is a fire lookout tower that you could go inside, so we sat for a few minutes to take in the views while being protected from the wind. There is actually a residential area on top of the lookout tower where an NPS employee lives in the summer! Many places have phased out live lookouts in favor of drones, and this lookout tower is one of the few remaining.

The views from the top were really awesome. When we headed back down, we went at a much more leisurely pace and stopped a lot to take pictures. This was a great hike!
The trail we took to the summit of Mt. Washburn.

Another view of the trail and the surrounding mountains.

Me hiking on the trail.
At the summit at 10,243 feet.
View from the Mt. Washburn trail (with an Instagram filter).

The fire lookout tower at the summit of Mt. Washburn.

On the drive through Yellowstone this day, there was a traffic jam because of a herd of about 20 bison walking on the road!

This is what driving through Yellowstone is like!

Momma and baby bison walking right next to my car.
One last elk photo.
Goodbye, Yellowstone! We love you!

Grand Teton National Park

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks are right next to each other, so of course we wanted to see Grand Teton too. We debated about staying in two different places--one closer to Yellowstone and one closer to Grand Teton--but decided just to have one home base and a long day of driving to get to Grand Teton. We could have driven through Yellowstone to get to Grand Teton, but we had learned by this point that driving through the park takes forever. Instead, we went south to Jackson, Wyoming and then up to the park that way, which took us nearly 3 hours (we found a shortcut back that took about 2.5 hours).

By the time we got to the park, we had time for only a short hike. After driving on Mormon Row, a street with old, historical homes, we did the 3-mile Taggart Lake hike. It was very pretty and came out to a pretty lake with views of the Tetons.

We left after that because we didn't want to get home too late, but we really wish we had more time there. We didn't see much of the park at all. Well, that's just a reason to go back!

View from Mormon Row.
Another view from Mormon Row.
On the hike to Taggart Lake.
Taggart Lake.

Drive to Salt Lake City

When we left our cabin in Idaho, we didn't need to be in Salt Lake City at a particular time so we stopped in Idaho Falls and then took several scenic byways down. Idaho Falls was small but really cute, with a waterfall right in the downtown. While driving on the scenic byways took a lot more time, I'm so glad we decided to go that way because we drove through some beautiful areas. On parts of the drive we were driving through golden, expansive plains with mountains all around. We drove past the big, beautiful, turquoise Bear Lake. We drove through Logan Canyon, about an hour away from SLC, about 6 p.m. on a Friday and saw so many people who must have just got off work and were there starting a hike, gearing up to go rock climbing, and saddling their horses. I thought, This is the environment where I want to live--where everyone values and takes advantage of the outdoors.
Idaho Falls.
On one of the scenic byways on Route 30 (for you Pittsburghers, this is the same
Route 30 you can catch near Monroeville!).


Salt Lake City

We rented a very cute condo right downtown that was close to everything and spent two nights and a day exploring everything we could in the city. I obviously loved it since I want to move there, but it's just a beautiful city with pretty landscaping everywhere, lots of public art, and gorgeous views of the mountains everywhere.

Of course we had to see Temple Square, where the main Mormon temple is. So, what I knew of SLC before I came was that there is a big Mormon temple right in the middle of the city. It actually blew my mind. Temple Square is a beautifully landscaped 10-acre area that includes not only Salt Lake Temple, the main temple, but also 13 other buildings, two of which are visitors centers. There are big fountains and statues, gorgeous landscaping, and even a gurgling stream in front of the conference center. It was all beautiful. We are not Mormon, and seeing how Mormons are pretty famous for going door-to-door passing out literature, we wondered what it was going to be like there. Not a single person tried to hand us literature or talk to us about Mormonism. Instead, everyone was very friendly and nice, asking us if we needed help if we had a map out, but nothing more.

In addition to Temple Square, we checked out the rest of downtown, the beautiful public library, which has an awesome rooftop deck free and open to the public, the Utah State Capitol building, and some residential areas.

It was very sad leaving Salt Lake City. There is so much we just didn't have time to see. I truly do hope one day to live there.
Public art in Salt Lake City.

View from the rooftop deck on the public library.

At right is a pedestrian ramp to go up to the rooftop deck on the public library.
Utah State Capitol Building.
The ceiling of the Utah State Capitol.
Salt Lake Temple (with fisheye lens).

The end! I'll be back to my regular running posts this week. :-)

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