Monday night started our travels to Grand Teton National Park. These pictures show that while we may have been in Grand Teton National Park, we didn’t get to see the Grand Tetons… too snowy!! We were in the midst of a snow storm approaching, so not the best timing!

Tuesday night, we headed to Bozeman, MT, where we had to stop and sleep in a cute town hotel because it was late and a little too cold. This was the night we drove down a 30 mile mountain road covered in ice, going 15 mph. It was dark and slippery and bumper to bumper traffic too, but we made it out in one piece!

Wednesday morning, we woke up and headed to what we thought was the Oboz store front, but it was just their headquarters. We got to cook the BEST hashbrown bowls for breakfast while we saw a really cool bird dance and sing for us.

We made our way to Yellowstone National Park, where all of the entrances were closed except for the north entrance. As we entered the park, we were greeted by a herd of Pronghorns. They galloped across the road so getting a picture wasn’t a necessity as we wanted to take this moment in, in person. Our first stop after the visitor center and general store was a short boardwalk trail. We saw some really cool and warm geissers, and what seemed to look like a coyote, although the pictures make it look like a wolf!

We stopped at a small town in Montana where Brian got to try fly fishing in the freezing weather on a partially frozen river. We tried to cook but a storm was brewing and the wind got a little too crazy! We ventured deeper into North Yellowstone to Lamar Valley, getting to see plenty of Bison and Bighorn Sheep (female). The baby bison were so cute when they play with the older bison and hop around.

After Yellowstone, we headed back towards Denver, Co, to stop at my cousin’s house in Boulder to get some much needed rest AND a nice hot shower. After our visit, we spent yet another day in Denver shopping, before we started to make our way back home to our regularly scheduled activities!

Location of adventure? We traveled up to Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana.

Why did you choose this place? I / We chose this area because I had never been that far up north, and everyone had told me how amazing Yellowstone and Grand Teton are, so I wanted to see it in person. We stopped by in Colorado to see our friend who worked at The Backpacker briefly, before heading to Copper Mountain to teach snowboarding lessons. So, it was a perfect all in one trip!

Did you use a website or other resource to help you plan your trip? Definitely the NPS website was very useful in looking at where our dedtinations were, relative to each other, and of course providing information in regard to recent wonter storms in the areas. All Trails, FreeRoam, Dyrt, and helped us find campsites and stay on the trails since they were covered in snow.

What gear was on your checklist to bring with you? I wouldn't have made it without toe and hand warmers!! It was so cold that, for me as a hot-running person, the 250 baslayers with the warmers still wasn't enough to keep me warm while we cooked outside and night. Insulated snow boots, my Gregory Juno 24L H2O, GU energy goos, and my 46 oz Yeti were the top things I knew I needed on this trip. Not to mention a wool blanket comes in handy when using insulated blankets.

Did anything about your adventure surprise you? One thing that suprised me a lot was how big the snowflakes got when the storms were rolling in! Also, getting to walk on a frozen lake was pretty cool. Scary but very surprising that a thick layer of ice can support two humans walking across.

Was there a particular moment of excitement or danger that made this a true adventure? I experienced a true deep fear when we were stuck on a long, two-way, mountain road going 15 mph or less in bumper to bumper traffic. I was happy we weren't the only ones on the road, but going up and down a 10% grade icy road was quite terrifying. The exciting part of my trip was not only seeing all these animals in their natural habitats, but also getting to ski down a green without falling once!!

What was your favorite part of your adventure? I truly can't pick just one thing that was my favorite part, but definitely getting to see such beautiful scenery and all these really cool animals made me realize how badly I want to live out west. Since visiting Yosemite for school, Yellowstone has so far been one of my top favorite National Parks.

What gear was absolutely essential to help you love your adventure? Baselayers all the way!! And body warmers too. I loved my Fjäll Räven down jacket that I could layer with anything. I brought TONS of Smartwool clothing such as their winter active leggings, and some merino tops that acted as a 150 or all season baselayer but was cute! They looked like sweaters, so it was stylish and technical.

What gear do you wish you had brought? I had been on plenty of mini hikes in the cold and longer ones in the summer. I thought three pairs of winter hiking leggings would suffice, but the wind chill was absolutely crazy. I wished I would have looked into actual pants to layer that would have blocked the wind so my leggings could actually keep me warm. Also, a heated blanket would have been nice! I was able to get a good feel for merino products through work and realized how much I love Smartwool, so I had stocked up on undergarments, clothes, and socks from the brand. Definitely kept me dry and warm.

Would you have done anything differently? I wished I would have taken calling the NPs more seriously. Most are automated and have a line to wait to speak with someone, but each time I called it took forever!! Doing research before hand, especially for winter trips is so important. With this being said, we found out once we got to Grand Teton NP that mostly everything was closed and blocked off due to a winter storm. I would love to see both Grand Teton and Yellowstone in the spring when the animals and plants are thriving.

What would you tell a friend about your adventure before they do it themselves? Invest in wool!! Merino socks, baselayers, and a true wool blanket to stay warm. They also need to have the right vehicle equipment, especially chains if they don't have four wheel drive or snow tires. It's also okay to not have certain things planned and just go with the flow! Hard to do sometimes, but it makes adventure more fun! Also, dry out your socks!!

Location of adventure? The Location of my adventure was in Colorado, Wyoming, and some Montana! I went to Copper Mountain to ski, and Grand Teton and Yellowstone.

Why did you choose this place? I chose this area because it is my favorite area to travel too and wanted to experience it during a different season.

Did you use a website or other resource to help you plan your trip? I used a couple of Apps, I used All Trails, to help guide myself on trail, FreeRoam, to find free campsites, and Dyrt, to also help find campsites.

What gear was on your checklist to bring with you? Pretty much everything! The most helpful items include, a double sleeping bag and pad, Jetboil, Winter Hiking boots, baselayers, etc.

Did anything about your adventure surprise you? How easy it was to drive on snow. Now, on ice, not so much!

Was there a particular moment of excitement or danger that made this a true adventure? Driving 15 mph on a 30 mile long road on a mountain with ice was the danger factor! The excitement factor was when I was venturing through Yellowstone and enjoying all the wildlife the park had to offer. Seeing a bison was pretty awesome!

What was your favorite part of your adventure? Yellowstone National park was the best part about my adventure. Definitely the best National park I have been too.

What gear was absolutely essential to help you love your adventure? You have to stay warm and the Arcteryx Cerium and Smartwool Baselayers did the job. 

What gear do you wish you had brought? The Minimo, I was contemplating on purchasing one and I wish I did for the trip! The Jetboil Flash did not perform as well in the cold and the Minimo is designed for that!

Would you have done anything differently? I definitely wish I went during the Fall or Spring… it was too cold!

What would you tell a friend about your adventure before they do it themselves? Make sure your vehicle is equipped with the propper equipment for the rough conditions. Stop by Backpacker to get all the essentials for your trip!