When is the Best Time to Go to Yellowstone?

When is the best time to go to Yellowstone? I get this question a lot. Here’s the simple answer: Whenever works best for you. While simple is good, you may want something a little more, shall we say, helpful. Here it is: There is no bad time, no wrong time to go to Yellowstone. Every season is simply different, with unique characteristics, challenges, and gifts. Year to year, week to week, and day to day, the weather within each season varies. (Case in point: One year my husband and I visited Yellowstone in early September. We had rain, snow, cold, {Continue Reading}

4 Things to Remember When You Hike in YNP

Soon after I started working in Yellowstone, I received a package from my dad. It contained his trail guide with a letter tucked inside. In it, he shared a list of nine trails he thought I might enjoy hiking, along with the page number where I would find the trail listed and why he included it on the list. He ended with some fatherly advice: Please remember to observe all the precautions mentioned in the book–even in the summer, you are in more danger from hypothermia than bears. Be careful and have fun. Love– Dad I still have the letter. {Continue Reading}

How to Foster Hope–Any Time of Year

It was one of the first hikes we took together, my husband and I. It wasn’t long—only a few miles, but one long stretch was steep. The descent wasn’t bad, and the destination—a steel suspension bridge spanning a canyon in the middle of the wilderness—was worth the trip down and even back up. Still, that thigh-burning return haul reigns in my memory, especially when we consider taking any trail with the word “steep” in the description. Swagged across the slope like twinkle-lights on a Christmas tree, the switchbacked Hellroaring Creek trail supposedly moderated the mountain face into a more manageable {Continue Reading}

Navigating This Season {whatever it is} By Faith

My legs rebelled at the unfamiliar sensation of sand rearranging itself under my feet. For my family, a typical hike meant packed-dirt paths through deciduous woods in Iowa or evergreen forests out west, not shifting sand in a desert canyon. But here we were, tackling new terrain. We walked along, faces tilted toward the slim slice of sky. We were at Capitol Reef National Park, hiking the narrow passageway of the Capitol Gorge trail. At the turnaround point, we noticed a sign for a spur trail. We could turn around or we could continue two-tenths of a mile up a {Continue Reading}

Our Steps Matter

After clocking out from the early shift at the gift shop, I left the Inn for a long, leisurely stroll through the Upper Geyser Basin. Beginning at Old Faithful, I walked past lesser-known features and family favorites as I made my way to my destination: Morning Glory Pool. I didn’t need to invest any thought about how to get there. The boardwalk laid the course and I followed. Signs along the way were clear: STAY ON THE TRAIL. Geyser basins are dangerous places. In some areas, the thinnest of crusts separate our frail human frames from the seething intensity below. {Continue Reading}

Hiking with Kids in Yellowstone

Because each of our children made their first trip to Yellowstone when they were toddlers or younger, we’ve developed some favorites over the years, along with some strategies for keeping everyone motivated and mobile on the trail. Below are some tips for hiking with littles, along with a few of our favorite kid-friendly hikes.  Tips for Hiking with Kids Distance: There is a limit to how far little ones can walk, especially in the mountains, where the trails almost always seem to go straight up—or down.  One guideline I came across for how far kids can hike is this: one {Continue Reading}

Walking in Tension

Crossing the empty parking lot, I zipped my fleece jacket to my chin and drew my fingers into my sleeves. It was August and already the mountain morning air held heavy hints of the coming autumn–known in Yellowstone as “early winter.” Side by side, my dad and I climbed the sloping path to Tower Fall. During my growing up years, Tower had always been a regular stop when my family visited Yellowstone. That first year, its 132-foot plunge impressed me but it was the large boulder perched at the brink that held my attention. I was sure it, like us, {Continue Reading}

Summer into Fall Challenge

I was finishing up the dinner dishes when my daughter, sixteen, slipped into the house and said, “You might want to stop and come outside. The sky is beautiful. I don’t think you want to miss it.” I’ve learned to listen to that girl. She pays attention. She’s attuned to beauty. And she loves to share it. She’s been at this sky-sharing practice for nearly half her life. The first time she did this, she was nine and there was a little more drama involved. She didn’t just slip into the house. Her arrival was accompanied by the crashing of {Continue Reading}

Five Short Hikes in Yellowstone

By temperament, I am hard-pressed to choose a favorite anything. Ask for my favorite food, color, or book and I’ll give you two. Or maybe three. Sometimes more. So here are not one, two, even three favorite short hikes in Yellowstone. Here are my favorite five, all 2.5 miles or less: 5 Short Yellowstone Hikes 1. Red Rock Point | 1 mile, there and back, ending at the same trailhead: Offering a view of the Lower Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, this trail takes hikers down a shady path through pine, rock, and even ferns to a {Continue Reading}