Yellowstone: Mountains, geysers and canyons, oh my!

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

TheĀ 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.Ā 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 iconicĀ 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

Hey there, Hoover Dam

It’s namesake is not exactly anyone’s favorite U.S. president, but I bet it’s people’s favorite dam.

The Hoover Dam sits in two time zones, two states and separates a lake (Mead) and a river (Colorado). And it is one impressive feat of mankind.

As we left Las Vegas on a hot Friday afternoon, we had one stop between us and the Grand Canyon. It wasn’t too far out of the way and turned out to be a worthy detour. Did I mention it was hot though? Not the humid, thick-air type of hot that we are used to in Florida, but a heat that makes you feel like you’re a piece of bread, about to have the moisture sucked out of you while you’re outer layer crisps into an unnatural shade.

Hoover dam

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