A Look Back at Visiting Grand Teton & Yellowstone in our Adventurer
A Look Back at Visiting Grand Teton & Yellowstone in our Adventurer
The family behind The Far Green Country shares about these iconic national parks.
By: Eli & Kelly Pyke
While we may not be able to travel to our favorite national parks right now, we can still look back at our cherished moments at these special places and share what they mean to us. We hope you enjoy this sentimental story from our friends, Eli & Kelly Pyke, and hope you share your favorite memories in the comments. Remember, you can still get some of your national park fix online as well!
In the steps of Ansel Adams,
In the tracks of grizzly bears,
In the rivers of Clark and Lewis,
We’ll teach our children there.
In a camp ‘neath brilliant skies,
In a stream of rainbow trout,
In a warm and cozy motorhome,
Are little eyes a-looking out.
Spirit of the National Parks
Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks are jewels of the American Rockies and two of the most memorable destinations on our national parks journey earlier this year. But since Yellowstone was the first established U.S. national park with the Yellowstone Act in 1872, let’s take a moment to reflect on the spirit of the national parks.
This designation provided “for the preservation … of all timber, mineral deposits, natural curiosities, or wonders,” and protects “against the wanton destruction of the fish and game found within said park, and against their capture or destruction for the purposes of merchandise or profit.” Yellowstone National Park set the stage for the creation of 400+ more national parks, monuments, seashores, parkways, preserves, and other sites that preserve America’s natural treasures and histories for all to enjoy.
While living in our motorhome, and as stated in The Far Green Country, we love exploring the national parks. Since Winnebago is partnering with the National Park Foundation (NPF), we are excited to help them share about the parks through our films, photos, and articles.
We agree with Winnebago CEO Michael Happe when he says, “America’s national parks offer unparalleled opportunities to experience the beauty of nature and the depth of our shared heritage.” So, after enjoying Mt. Rainier National Park and Craters of the Moon National Monument (referenced in our previous blog article here), our family continued east toward two of our favorite national parks in the country: Grand Teton and Yellowstone.
Grand Teton National Park
The Grand Teton, the namesake for the park, is the stunning and rugged mountain peak that stands at 13,775 feet, flanked by the Middle and South Teton, Mt. Owen, Teewinot, and Mount Moran. These mountains have attracted climbers and photographers for decades, one of whom was Ansel Adams. His photograph of “Tetons and the Snake River” (worth $750,000) has become a hallmark of landscape photography, and features not only the mountain range but the mighty Snake River, as it winds its way through the park.
Since our family loves rivers, we dug into the large storage compartments of our Winnebago Adventurer and pulled out our inflatable kayak and paddles, and ventured out on the Snake River for an enjoyable late afternoon float. After our time on the water we headed back to our campsite at Coulter Bay Village where we enjoyed a barbeque on the firepit in a spacious site with peekaboo views of Mount Moran. Being in a 30’ motorhome gave us plenty of camping options, even in the national parks.
Another iconic view of the Teton Mountain Range is from Mormon Row, a historic area within the park that hosts the remnants of a Mormon community established in the late 1800s. The barns in this area provide a picturesque foreground to the massive mountains. Waking before sunrise to drive our Adventurer to Mormon Row was definitely a highlight of our time there.
Yellowstone National Park
Driving north, we entered one of our favorite places in the country: Yellowstone National Park. It is home to a plethora of native wildlife, including grizzly bear, black bear, wolves, elk, deer, and bison. Protected within the borders of the park, these majestic animals are free to roam near the roads and scenic overlooks. We were thankful for the large windows of our Class A Adventurer, as they allowed for unencumbered views and easy wildlife spotting.
We loved driving our motorhome around the park during the day so that we could stop for meals, naps, and be prepared for any weather we may encounter. Plus, there are many roadside pullouts that are perfect for wildlife spotting during lunch or dinner! We made sure we have a place to stay for the night however, since campgrounds are usually full by noon, or sometimes even by 8 a.m.! Many times, we have had to wait in line at the early hours of the morning, and we have even had to leave the park on occasion, only to come back in early the next morning and find a campsite.
Kelly and I have many memories from our years visiting Yellowstone, including an epic seven-day backpack along the Bechler River in 2007. On that trip, we caught literally hundreds of small brook trout, and so this time we brought our fly rod and fished the waters of the Yellowstone River and Soda Butte Creek. Purchasing a fishing permit from the park is very convenient, since it is more affordable than a Wyoming or Montana out-of-state fishing license, and is good for an option of three days, seven days, or the full season. Filming my wife casting her fly rod at sunset, as bison and wolves dotted the distant hills, I thought to myself, “This is good.” There is a certain satisfaction I get, as a husband, when I see my wife getting a few moments to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of fly fishing (and catching fish).
One of the most defining characteristics of Yellowstone National Park is the geothermal features, most notable of which is Old Faithful. Named for the predictability of its eruptions, this geyser spews between 3,700-8,400 gallons of water to an average height of 130 feet at an approximate interval of once every 60 to 110 minutes. While Old Faithful is “faithful,” it erupts in its own time, and so photographing the motorhome in front of the geyser took plenty of patience and allowed only a few minutes during each eruption to “get the shot!”
Equally fascinating, in a historic sense, is the seven-story-tall Old Faithful Inn. A “masterpiece of rustic architecture,” this log hotel was constructed during the winter of 1903-1904 and was in the background of the Adventurer while we awaited the next eruption of Old Faithful. So, we included the Old Faithful Inn in our photo shoot as well.
Since filming in such a highly trafficked area as Old Faithful requires supervision from a national park ranger, our little Junior Ranger, “Ranger Dakota,” got to have his own personal ranger to talk to and ask questions of … for three hours! What a great learning experience and memorable encounter with a Yellowstone National Park ranger.
National Park Benefits
At the heart of our experiences at Grand Teton and Yellowstone was the opportunity for solitude and stillness. Whether floating the Snake River, watching a black bear sow and her two cubs, or seeing the alpenglow on distant peaks, the national parks provide the space and opportunity to experience nature, which has been clinically proven to improve states of depression and mental illness. And since this journey for us was a chance to get away from the normal routines of life and grieve the death of Eli’s father, we were thankful to be in such beautiful and rugged places where we could reflect on what it is to grieve. We plan to share our journey in grief through our upcoming documentary, The Far Green Country 2: At Road’s End.
We are thankful to Winnebago for their sponsorship of our project through the provision of the Adventurer. We are proud to be “Bound by the W” and for the experience of driving an American-made motorhome through America’s beautiful national parks.
Which national parks are closest to your heart? Please share why in the comments.
The Pykes have traveled through many of America’s National Parks in their Winnebago Adventurer. You can see their adventures on Instagram @TheFarGreenCountry or on Facebook @TheFarGreenCountry. They will also be sharing more of their adventures here on GoLife over the months to come. If you would like to watch their first documentary The Far Green Country, you can find it on many digital platforms including Amazon Prime, iTunes, Hulu and TubiTV. Their website is TheFarGreenCountry.com.