Highway 89 Road Trip Day 9: Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park

As you explore the majestic Teton Range, you’ll uncover all the essential things to do in Grand Teton National Park. The jagged peaks mirrored in pristine glacial lakes offer picture-perfect vistas at every turn. Whether it’s a tranquil lakeside stroll or a challenging mountain hike, Grand Teton promises a day of unforgettable natural beauty.

This photo by Pat Tr

Morning: Geothermal Wonders in Yellowstone

Your day begins with the excitement of entering Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the world and a marvel of natural wonders. As you venture into the park, the morning light reveals a landscape teeming with life and geothermal activity.

Start your exploration at Old Faithful, the park’s most iconic geyser. Arriving in the morning allows you to beat the larger crowds that gather later in the day and provides a serene backdrop to witness this natural spectacle. The geyser’s eruptions occur approximately every 90 minutes, so check the predicted eruption times at the visitor center to plan your visit accordingly.

While waiting for Old Faithful to erupt, take the opportunity to explore the surrounding Upper Geyser Basin. This area boasts the highest concentration of geysers in the world, including Castle Geyser, Grand Geyser, and Riverside Geyser.

The boardwalks and trails winding through the basin allow you to safely observe the geysers, hot springs, and mud pots, each contributing to the unique tapestry of Yellowstone’s geothermal landscape.

As you marvel at the steam rising from the earth and the gurgling sounds of the geysers, take a moment to appreciate the incredible forces of nature at work. The geothermal features of Yellowstone are not only a testament to the park’s volcanic origins but also a reminder of the ever-changing and dynamic nature of our planet.

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Afternoon: Falling For Yosemite

After witnessing the spectacle of Old Faithful, continue your journey through Yellowstone’s extraordinary landscapes. Your next destination is the Midway Geyser Basin, home to the park’s largest hot spring, the Grand Prismatic Spring.

This natural wonder is renowned for its striking coloration, a vivid spectrum ranging from deep blue to rich orange, created by microbial mats around the edges of the mineral-rich water. The size and intensity of Grand Prismatic are a sight to behold, offering one of the most photographed scenes in the park.

Walk the boardwalk that winds around the spring, allowing you to view this natural masterpiece from different angles.

Next, make your way to the Lower Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. This area of the park showcases a different aspect of Yellowstone’s diverse beauty. The canyon’s walls, carved by the Yellowstone River, display hues of yellow, red, and orange, a testament to the park’s volcanic history.

Several viewpoints along the North and South rims offer stunning views of the Lower Falls, one of the most iconic waterfalls in the park. The powerful roar of the water and the panoramic vistas of the canyon make this an unforgettable stop on your journey.

After exploring the canyon, take a moment to relax and enjoy a picnic lunch in one of the park’s designated picnic areas. Surrounded by nature, this is the perfect time to reflect on the morning’s adventures and recharge for the rest of the day.

As the afternoon unfolds, keep your eyes peeled for Yellowstone’s abundant wildlife. The park is home to one of the most intact natural ecosystems in the northern temperate zone, with bison, elk, and occasionally bears and wolves spotted in the meadows and forests.

Respectful observation from a safe distance allows for an enriching wildlife viewing experience without disturbing the natural behavior of the animals.

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Evening: Relaxing In Jackson

As the sun begins its descent, casting a soft golden light over Yellowstone’s vast wilderness, your day’s exploration transitions into a tranquil evening. One of the most serene ways to conclude your day is by visiting the Lamar Valley, often referred to as America’s Serengeti.

This wide, expansive valley is renowned for its wildlife viewing opportunities, especially during the early evening when animals are most active. Keep your binoculars and camera at the ready as you might spot herds of bison grazing, elk roaming, and with some luck, the elusive wolf or bear in their natural habitat.

After a fulfilling day of exploration and wildlife viewing, make your way to your accommodation within or near the park. Whether you’ve chosen to camp under the stars, stay in a rustic lodge, or retreat to a cozy cabin, the peacefulness of Yellowstone’s natural surroundings provides the perfect backdrop for relaxation and reflection.

For dinner, if you’re staying within the park, the lodges offer various dining options where you can enjoy a meal while still immersed in the park’s natural beauty. Alternatively, if you’re staying in one of the gateway communities, local restaurants offer a range of choices, from casual eateries to fine dining, allowing you to savor the local flavors.

As night falls, the absence of city lights reveals a magnificent display of stars. Yellowstone’s dark skies are ideal for stargazing, so take a moment to step outside and gaze upward. The Milky Way, constellations, and occasional shooting stars provide a mesmerizing end to your day in this spectacular natural sanctuary.

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Dining Recommendations

  • Recommended lunch spot: [LOCATION]
  • Alternative lunch location: [LOCATION]
  • Recommended dinner spot: [LOCATION]
  • Alternative dinner spot: [LOCATION]
  • Breakfast, snacks, dessert, and more: [INFORMATION]

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Lodging Recommendations

While there are ample camping and vacation rental options all over Highway 89, I personally highly prefer staying at Hilton-branded properties when traveling to national parks and during road trips. As such, here is three recommendations for places to stay in Jackson, Wyoming on day 9 of the ultimate Highway 89 road trip.

  1. Lodging Recommendation 1
  2. Lodging Recommendation 2
  3. Lodging Recommendation 3

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Quick Things To Note

Yellowstone is home to a rich array of wildlife, including bears, wolves, bison, and elk. Always view wildlife from a safe distance and never approach or feed the animals. Remember to store food and scented items securely, especially if you’re camping.

The park’s geothermal areas are fascinating but can be dangerous. Stay on designated boardwalks and trails, and keep a safe distance from geothermal features. The ground in these areas can be fragile and hot water just below the surface can cause severe burns.

Yellowstone’s roads can be busy, especially during peak season. Expect wildlife on the roads, drive carefully, and adhere to speed limits. Use pullouts to watch wildlife and let faster vehicles pass. Remember, the park is large, and driving times can be longer than expected.

Even in summer, evenings in Yellowstone can be cool, and temperatures drop significantly at night. Dress in layers and bring extra blankets or a suitable sleeping bag if you’re camping, to ensure a warm and comfortable night.

Yellowstone offers some of the darkest skies in the U.S., making it an excellent place for stargazing. Avoid using bright lights or flashlights, as they can disrupt your night vision and that of others. Use a red light if possible, and give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness.

While there are dining options in Yellowstone, they can be spread out. Plan your meals accordingly, and consider packing a picnic lunch or snacks, especially if you’ll be exploring remote areas of the park or if you have specific dietary needs.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Old Faithful eruptions occur approximately every 90 minutes, and viewing can take about an hour, including waiting and watching time. For Grand Prismatic Spring, plan for at least an hour to walk the boardwalks and take in the views. Allocate additional time if you plan to hike to the overlook for a broader view of the Grand Prismatic.

Yes, Yellowstone offers a variety of guided tours, including ranger-led programs, wildlife watching tours, and geothermal feature tours. These can provide deeper insights into the park’s natural history and ecosystems. Check the park’s official website or visitor centers for schedules and availability.

The Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley are well-known for wildlife viewing, particularly for spotting bison, elk, and sometimes wolves and bears. Early morning or late evening are typically the best times for wildlife activity. Remember to use binoculars or a telephoto lens for a safe and respectful distance.

Yes, Yellowstone has several family-friendly and beginner trails. The Fairy Falls Trail, leading to a beautiful waterfall, and the Mystic Falls Trail, offering scenic views and geothermal features, are popular choices. Always check trail conditions and bear activity reports before heading out.

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Our Final Thoughts on Highway 89 Day 9

As Day 9 of our journey along Highway 89 comes to a close, we find ourselves deeply moved by the raw and untamed beauty of Yellowstone National Park. The day was a profound reminder of the natural wonders that our planet holds.

From the reliable spectacle of Old Faithful’s eruptions to the vivid colors swirling around the Grand Prismatic Spring, every moment spent in this geothermal wonderland was a testament to the Earth’s dynamic and ever-evolving nature.

Our encounters with the park’s diverse wildlife, set against the backdrop of vast meadows and rugged mountains, added a thrilling dimension to our adventure. The Lamar Valley, with its serene beauty and abundant wildlife, offered a glimpse into the rich biodiversity that Yellowstone protects and preserves.

As we settled into the evening, the park’s clear, star-studded skies provided a moment of quiet reflection, reminding us of our place within the universe’s vast expanse.

Looking forward to Day 10, our hearts are full of anticipation for what lies ahead. The journey along Highway 89 continues to unfold new landscapes, stories, and experiences, each mile enriching our understanding and appreciation of the natural world. The road beckons, and we’re ready to embrace the adventures that await us.