Moab highlights

After spending time in Utah’s biggest city, we basically drove to the middle of nowhere. Or, drove through the middle of nowhere to get to Moab, the state’s hub for outdoorsy adventurers.

And the adventures do abound in this city that sits on the Colorado River, only a few miles from vast canyon lands and wondrous arches, sandstone towers and other mystical formations. Mountain biking. Rock climbing. Cliff jumping. Rafting and kayaking. 4x4ing in your Jeep. Pick your sport.
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Up in the Grand Tetons and down below in Jackson Hole

Just south of diverse Yellowstone National Park lies a park built around one thing: the craggy peaks of the Teton Range. If ever a mountain range deserved a whole national park, the Tetons are the most worthy!

Established in 1929, Grand Teton National Park includes the high peaks of the Tetons, several glacial lakes, a chunk of the meandering snake river, a historic Mormon settlement district and plenty of outdoorsy opportunities — from camping to hiking to boating to fishing and more.

We started off our time in the park with breakfast at the Mural Room in the Jackson Lake Lodge. It was raining when we arrived, but as we sipped our coffee, the clouds rolled away, exposing one peak at a time: South Teton, Middle Teton, Grand Teton, all the way to Mount Moran.


IMG_0961Mighty Mount Moran

The Willow Flats were in full fall mode — gorgeous reds and yellows lead to Jackson Lake, which sits at the base of the Tetons.


After breakfast, we headed down to the Snake River Overlook, where Ansel Adams captured the epic beauty of the river and peaks in haunting black and white photographs back in the 1940s.



Next we headed to Mormon Row Historic District, featuring several homesteads from the late 1800s and early 1900s. The most famous of the buildings is T.A. Moulton’s barn, which is framed perfectly by the rising peaks of the Tetons.

While it wasn’t easy to tell it was fall in Yellowstone, the season’s colors were definitely showing in Grand Teton. Even though it was only October 2, the aspens were a brilliant yellow and not far from completely losing their leaves. Nowhere was the season more evident than on Mormon Row.


It was a reminder that fall is my absolutely favorite season! And of course I had to wear my best fall outfit:


John Moulton’s Home

IMG_1001John Moulton’s barn — the less popular of the Moulton barns.

After wandering around the old buildings, we got a little closer to the mountains. We went on a short hike around String Lake and then stopped at Jenny Lake before heading into Jackson Hole.


Unfortunately the clouds were too low to see the peaks. But the lakes were clear and lovely and brilliantly reflective.


Jenny Lake is one of the larger glacial lakes at the foot of the Tetons. It’s also one of the deepest! It was created by glaciers that pushed rock debris down through the canyon.

The clouds eventually moved enough to give us a peek into Cascade Canyon.

We ended our day in the area in Jackson, a very wild west town, or a town that at least tries to evoke the wild west.


Antler Arches in Town Square

IMG_1077Cowboy statue


The “hole” feeling of the area is very evident — I can see how the valley received the name. Our last stop received its namesake from the winding river that runs south, past the Tetons into Jackson: Snake River Brewing Company, a worthy place for a drink if you like beer. 20151002_144053

The Tetons are quite possibly the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen. After seeing them from a distance for several days prior (from Highway 29 heading to the West Entrance of Yellowstone and from atop Mount Washburn), it was nice to see them up close! Even though the day was relatively cloudy, we thoroughly enjoyed the landscape. The jury is still out on Jackson Hole though.


Yellowstone: Hiking Mount Washburn

The best views always require a bit of work. I’m not sure if they’re better because you worked for them, or if it’s just the nature of landscapes — you can see more from the top, but you have to get there somehow.

The highlight of our Yellowstone visit was most definitely the hike to the top of Mount Washburn. Or rather, the views from the top of Mount Washburn after we hiked three miles up. Continue reading

Yellowstone: Mountains, geysers and canyons, oh my!

America’s first national park may just be its best — Yellowstone National Park is a truly special place. It’s also in the middle of NOWHERE.

The first stop on our Wild West road trip, we drove six hours from Salt Lake City (time includes a Target run and several aimless attempts to find gas in Nowhere, Idaho) in a race against the sun to get to our resting place for the night, the Old Faithful Lodge, before the sun went down and the likelihood of hitting an unsuspecting animal in the pitch black with our rental car went up. We pulled into the parking lot at 7:15, just as the sun disappeared beyond the horizon, and only had to navigate our way to dinner that night.
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Road tripping through the Wild West

Wild West mapSeventeen-hundred miles, six national parks, four states, two adventurers. Or pseudo-adventurers.

After covering a good chunk of the West Coast last year and this past spring, it was time for the Addingtons to check out uncharted (for us) territory: The wild west. I had the opportunity to present at a conference in Salt Lake City in late September, which put us smack in the middle of a beautiful and largely unpopulated part of the country and close to numerous iconic national parks.

And so, we adventured — driving on quiet 80-mph highways and two-lane scenic byways, hiking up and down mountains, taking 1,000 pictures of big blue skies and deep canyons and craggy peaks and curious hoodoos and expansive arches. But always sleeping in a comfortable bed and drinking delicious local beer each night and eating giant sandwiches and salads because I wouldn’t take a vacation that didn’t include those things.

By the end, we had traversed Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. All places with few people, crappy cell service and some of the most amazingly beautiful sites.

I’m continually intrigued by the western half of the United States. Only residing on the East Coast, it’s a whole different world out there. I’m also grateful to have such beauty in our own backyard and always cognizant that many had their lives, lands and culture stripped from them to make it possible.

Here are our stops:

  1. Yellowstone National Park
  2. Yellowstone: Hiking Mount Washburn
  3. Grand Teton National Park/Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  4. Antelope Island State Park on the Great Salt Lake
  5. Salt Lake City
  6. Moab: Canyonlands and Arches
  7. Bryce Canyon National Park
  8. Zion National Park