Roadtrip to the Crown of the Continent – Part 1

America’s best idea is indeed the national park. Vast spaces preserving mother nature’s beauty, each is unique and beautiful. I’ve only had the opportunity to visit 10 of 58 thus far but I managed to conquer 3 just last week: Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and Glacier.

David and I set off toward our final destination, Glacier, from Denver last week in a bright red rented Toyota Yaris. First stop was O’Dell Brewery in Fort Collins for a beer to cool us off from the afternoon heat.

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The small brewery is down the street from the Fort Collins favorite, New Belgium Brewery. We chose to stop at O’Dell instead of New Belgium because of a love for their beers and our schedule did not permit stopping at both. Also, New Belgium tours required reservations nearly a year ahead. Book ahead if you want to see their amazing wind-powered brewery.

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Once we got to O’Dell, we couldn’t decide on one beer each but had no time to get tipsy at 11 am so we tried their pilot tray, which is six 2 oz. glasses of different beers. It was the perfect mix of beers for David and my very different palettes. My favorite was the Cutthroat Nitro Stout. So chocolatey and yummy! The beautifully designed brewery was a great spot to hang out for the morning until we set out on the next leg of our trip.

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After hopping on the road again, a six hour drive through the gorgeous state of Wyoming left us 30 minutes southeast of Grand Tetons National Park in Dubois, WY. The quaint little 1,000 person town was inhabited by cowboys, spurs and all, and we stuck out like sore thumbs. Aside from cowboys, the small town is also home to many artists, photographers, writers, and musicians who flood the town because of its natural beauty, remarkable scenery, and moderate climate. Art galleries lined the short main street offering a great look at the local art. The local watering hole was the best place to overhear the town gossip and a small restaurant next to our hotel offered a delicious bite. After a night wandering through the tiny Western city, David and I both considered moving there ourselves. We loved the peace and quiet of the small town.

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After a great night’s sleep at the very clean, comfy, and reasonably priced Stagecoach Motor Inn, we jumped in the Yaris at sunrise to make the 30 minute drive to Grand Tetons National Park. We knew that if the sign was this beautiful, the park would be breathtaking and we certainly weren’t disappointed. Snow covered mountains, wildflower covered prairies, and vast lakes barely even begin to describe this wonderful park.

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Unfortunately, a six hour drive to reach Glacier National Park before sunset that night gave us little time to explore the Tetons. So we stopped, we looked, and we took big deep fresh breaths to take it all in. With a promise from David to return as soon as we can, we headed toward Yellowstone, just a stone’s throw north.

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We were only able to spend about 5 hours in Yellowstone before continuing to Glacier that night so we made the most of every second. Luckily, my parents had just visited the park a week before so I had all of the best information about the roads, crowds, and much more. The park is set up in a loop with Old Faithful on the west side and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone on the east. Since we were in a time crunch, we decided to skip Old Faithful on this trip because we were unsure of how long we’d have to wait for it to blow. So we headed toward the east side to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

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During our day in the park, we hopped on a trail to see the park from above the tree line, stopped for a peaceful lunch along Yellowstone Lake, hiked across the Fishing Bridge, spotted Bison, and saw our first of many gorgeous waterfalls of the trip at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. A quick but beautiful day left me dying to return to this park. In an effort to keep my eyes peeled for wildlife, I hardly took a photo but I love the few good ones I ended up with.

DSCF1448DSCF1465DSCF1484 DSCF1488 DSCF1500 DSCF1503Next stop: Glacier National Park for 4.5 amazing days. Stay tuned to see the rest of our trip and get all the info on a summer trip to the Crown of the Continent, Glacier National Park.

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