The Doran’s Head West Again!
When I told my friends that I was going on another trip, they said “you just came back from one”. Yea, it kinda feels that way. It feels like we are going on trips, coming back, settling and then going again. But, thats exactly what we want to do for our family. We want to go on adventures, see as much as we can in this life and get the most out of every single day.
So we packed up and headed to a brand new location for us, Wyoming! Actually, we flew into Utah, headed to Wyoming and also drove through Idaho on our way back.
Each trip we have been on has been completely different and makes it that much more special. I love the United States because each state is so unique and has so many different things to see and do.
I have gotten so many messages about asking for an itinerary and giving all the fun spots, so I thought a blog would be the best place to collect all the information for you!
If you find value and end up taking the trip or seeing some of the places, would love for you to tag me and let me know this helped you! Can’t wait to see where you go!
We flew into Salt Lake City, Utah and grabbed a rental car from Rugged Rentals. This was the best deal we could find for a rental car. It was off-site but it was super easy to hop on their shuttle and get to. We immediately started off on our trek to Wyoming. We stopped at the Wal-Mart in Evanston, WY to grab food for the week. Some of our go to food staples are: fruit, crackers, s’mores ingredients, water, peanut butter and bread, trail mix, granola bars, pop tarts and we get dinner for our cabin one night. This time we got burgers, red potatoes and a salad.
We met up with our friends, the AdventurtunityFamily, for dinner who were staying at the Star Valley Ranch RV Park. For those with an RV, this was a great little spot with an amazing view, pool, pickle ball and playground. The only downside we heard of was that the WIFI wasn’t working very well.
Then we checked into our cabin on the Rockin M Ranch in Alpine, WY. We could not say enough good things about this ranch. Highly recommend to anyone traveling here. There were fishing rods available, a stocked pond, streams, horses on site, the sweetest ranch dogs, wood cut and ready for your fire pit, a grill with a full propane tank, the cleanest, best smelling cabin that included everything we needed. Not to mention, waking up, stepping outside on the porch and having a clear view of the mountains. The scenery was breathtaking.
We drove to Grand Teton National Park and hiked the infamous Jenny Lake. Since I first looked up the Tetons, I heard about the hike to Inspiration Point. I knew that was something I wanted to do so we hiked around Jenny Lake and about midway, we saw the most amazing waterfalls and then continued up to Inspiration Point.
Tip: You can actually take the boat from the entrance over to the bottom of Inspiration Point and then hike it up and either walk back or take the boat back. Having little kids, I would have probably taken the boat across and then walked back.
After the waterfalls, we questioned if the hike up to Inspiration point was worth it. The kids were tired and we had already walked a good distance but we decided to keep going and yes it was worth it. You cannot come to these places and not do all of the things. You didn’t come this far, to just come this far.
Tip: If you are going to be visiting any National Park and have a fourth grader, make sure you sign them up for the Every Kid Outdoors program. The program gives them free access to all of the National Parks in the country starting September 1 to August 31 during the year that they are in fourth grade.
On the way back down, we decided that we wanted to take the longer way so we could see more and not go back on the same trail. This ended up being a way longer hike than we expected, hiking back around Jenny Lake, getting to String Lake and then making the full loop back. The Jenny Lake hike along is 7.9 miles and that isn’t including around String lake, and the hike up Inspiration Point.
Overall, super worth it and it is a story we will continue to talk about.
Another tip: Bring a ton of water. We actually ended up using all of our water and had to ask someone at String Lake who was leaving if we could have some of theirs. At that point, we had three miles left on our hike and wanted to make sure the kids had enough to get them there.
One more fun tip: When hiking up inspiration point, stop at the first landing and wait for the chipmunks to come out. Your kids will think it is the greatest thing. The chipmunks come up so close, you can grab a super cute picture!
Wait, there is another tip: Bring BEAR SPRAY! We did see a black bear while we were walking on the trail. Every other person on the trail had bear spray so it is a must. Grab it, know how to use it and keep it on you.
We went into Jackson Hole, to Teton Village. We have heard about these famous waffles at the top of the mountain and we had to try them. You can order tickets for the gondola ahead of time and save money. When you get their, go to will call, grab your tickets and you can take the gondola up the hill where there is a restaurant and bar.
Note: Usually people take the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram and enjoy Corbet’s Cabin’s delicious freshly-made waffles at the summit, but it was actually closed for repairs, so for now, you take the gondola up and get about the same experience.
Once you get up, grab some pictures of this amazing view and then grab a table. Go into the restaurant and you can choose from some unique waffles, get a pizza, a frose, beer, etc. We got the cinnamon toast crunch waffle and the peanut butter and bacon one. Sooooooooo good! Nothing better than sitting at the top of a mountain, with an amazing view, eating a waffle and drinking a frose in the middle of the day.
We headed down into the Teton Village to the playground and let the kids play around while we snacked.
Tip: Bring lunch and snacks with you. You can sit down and have a snack, have a drink and watch your kids play around on the playground and through the water play area. There is also shopping, rock climbing, trampolines and other activities.
We made a two hour drive from Alpine, WY to the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Yes, the drive was a bit longer than I would have wanted but I couldn’t come this close to Yellowstone and not go see it. Plus, new roads mean new views and it was beautiful.
We left early in the morning so we could get the most in. We started taking a picture at the Yellowstone sign as you pull in. Then make sure you grab a map from the ranger as you are driving in. There is so much to see and the map will help you get to everywhere you want to. For our day we decided on a loop which took us to everything that we wanted to see. It started by traveling along Highway US 89/191 – Grand Loop Road, then a slight right to continue on Highway US 89, then a right on to Norris Canyon Road (closed during winter months), then back on to Grand Loop Road (closed during winter months) until you reach the south entrance again.
We started with Old Faithful. Bring lunch and grab a seat. Old Faithful erupts every 60-70 minutes, so no matter what time you get there, you can have a seat, eat lunch and wait so you don’t miss it.
Tip: You can go to the visitor center and ask a ranger when the next eruption is set to go off. Also, if you have kids, head to the visitor center to get the junior ranger patch and learning book. There are activities in the book that the kids can do while throughout the whole park. One of them is about Old Faithful which would be great for the time you are sitting and waiting for the magic to happen.
We hopped in the car and went to the Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone’s Midway Geyser Basin. These hot springs were super cool to see and feel the heat.
Next, we drove to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. We started out hiking to the lower part of the waterfall. There are switchbacks that take you down and you end up at the top of the lower waterfall. It felt unreal to be there, you were so close to the top of the water fall, it was amazing. The waterfall and the view into the canyon were beautiful.
Drive down just a little farther and park and you can walk to lookout point which is just a super short walk. You are able to see the waterfall from the other side which is totally worth it.
From here, you can drive back towards where you entered Yellowstone and drive through Hayden Valley. This is a great place to spot bison and other wildlife.
There are so many places to stop and see in Yellowstone, so if you see something you want to stop for, do it.
We took a short drive to Idaho and had a lake day at Palisades Reservoir. Our friends actually had blow up paddle boards so we were able to use those on the lake. There are so many places you can rent kayaks, tubes, paddle boards, etc from if you just look them up.
You can also just have a lake day and go swimming. We brought lunch, snacks, drinks, music, played in the water in the tube, on the boards and just enjoyed the view. See the picture for the exact location of where we went. It seems a little off the main road but it was super easy to get in and out and feels like a best kept secret location.
That night we went to the Jackson Hole Rodeo. Make sure you get your tickets ahead of time because they only do it twice a week. We absolutely loved the rodeo. We didn’t get there early to grab seats but actually loved sitting on the fence even better. We were closer to the action and we were able to move around.
Tip: The food at the rodeo was awesome. The soft pretzels were one of the best I have had and the elk chili was delicious. You can plan to eat there at the rodeo.
Another tip: Plan to stay after the rodeo, go see the bulls and then if you have kids, let them ride the mechanical bull. The lines aren’t as long and the sun is down so it is a lot cooler.
We drove back into Jackson Hole and the Tetons and made it a day of exploring. You can go into Jackson Hole and get a picture in front of one of the infamous antler arches, have lunch in a signature Jackson Hole restaurant, grab some gifts/souvenirs at one of the stores and if you have kids, stop to see the sheriff on the horse and ask about being a junior deputy of Jackson Hole. He will do a whole pledge and give your kids an official pin.
We also made sure to stop at the Grand Teton Visitor Center to pick up junior ranger badges for the kids with more activity books. We also pulled off on some streets to see the amazing views of the Tetons.
There is a little lake and a new wooden sculpture built in Rendezvous Park that we stopped to see. You can walk around, have snacks, swim in the lake and get some good pictures.
We had dinner at our cabin this night. We grilled on our porch, saw the sunset with the most beautiful sky, had a fire, roasted marshmallows and got in the hot tub.
We booked a two-hour trail ride on the ranch’s horses. It was so awesome being on the ranch and being able to just walk down to the stable and get on the horses.
This was a highlight of our trip for all of us. The kids loved every second of it. The ride took us back into Idaho, into the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and across three different streams.
We came back to the cabin and Jeff ran out to Delish Donuts & Coffee. This is a can not miss donut place! The donuts and coffee were amazing and I wish I got more.
Our ranch had everything we needed to have a great day staying on the ranch. We used the ranch’s fishing rods and fished into the ponds and streams. The kids played with the ranch dog in the stream having him fetch sticks. We went for walks, checked out the horses, set up the fire, got in the hot tub and ate at the cabin.
Tip: Book the trail ride earlier in the week. Our kids wanted to go again and we probably would have done it again if we had more time to book it. We also would have booked the combo trip that the ranch offered which included fishing and trail riding.
We stayed at the cabin as long as possible and enjoyed the horses, dogs and fishing again. We drove back into Salt Lake City, Utah and took the Idaho route so we were able to see more. We even stopped at a roadside beef and elk jerky stand.
We ended our night with heading to Topgolf for the first time and we loved it.
We booked the Tru by Hilton Salt Lake City Airport and it included airport transportation and free breakfast which made it super convenient.
We absolutely loved this trip. This was one the that the kids were super sad to leave. They loved the simple outdoors life and the cabin. They loved seeing horses daily and being with the ranch dogs.
We loved the opportunity to see so many new animals that we haven’t seen before. We loved exploring together as a family and getting the most out of our days together.
Overall, this was an amazing trip. Every single day we did something incredible. We woke up each day a wrote in our Live Inspired Gratitude Journal and of course we had so much to be grateful for.
A big part of our homeschooling was wanting the opportunity to go where we want when we want. We knew there is so much greatness to see in this county and in this world and we want to be apart of it.
We want out kids to have the most incredible memories of the most amazing places. We want them to learn by going to places and standing in those spots in the books and learning while they are there.
Wyoming, you were beautiful and taught us so much about nature and the simple life… and we cannot wait to come back!
I hope you find value, you can always ask me questions and when you go to these places and if you do some of the same things, tag me @farindoran so I can see your adventures!!
Items to bring:
- Water bottles:
A. Adults – Nalgene Tritan Wide Mouth BPA-Free Water Bottle
B. Kids – MIRA 12 oz Stainless Steel Water Bottle
- Carabiner clips for your water bottles – 6PCS Carabiner Clips
- Kid journals – Emraw Neon Color Cover Composition Book
- Leggings – Any with pockets (for your easy phone storage) – use code: FARIN10 for 10% off at Clothed In Radiance.
- Hiking backpack – JanSport SuperBreak Backpack
- Extra battery charger – Mophie Powerstation Plus XL with Built in Micro USB and Lighning Cables
- Hiking socks – MERIWOOL Merino Wool Hiking Socks for Men and Women
- Hiking Boots:
A. Jeffs – Rax Men’s Wild Wolf Mid Venture Waterproof Lightweight Hiking Boots, Light Khaki
B. Peyton’s – Merrell Kids’ Unisex M-Chameleon 7 Access Mid A/C Wtrpf Hiking Shoe, Grey/Blue
C. Sawyer’s – Hawkwell Kids’ Outdoor Mid Hiking Boots Trekking Walking Shoes, Burgundy Mesh
- All-natural, family safe, hydrating drink mix – Message me on Facebook or email email@example.com for more information on what we drank every single day