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Clockwise from top left: a view of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone; The Old Faithful Snow Lodge; prosciutto scotch egg with hollandaise from Rendezvous Bistro; a canoe on Yellowstone Lake.
Photo credit: Courtesy of the National Park Service (Yellowstone). Courtesy of Xanterra Parks & Resorts (lodge). Courtesy of Rendezvous Bistro (food).
Yellowstone Park is one of the world’s must-do drives — you can spend weeks in it and still feel like you’re just scratching the surface. Start at the former mining town of Red Lodge, traveling along Beartooth All-American Road (more prosaically known as U.S. Highway 212) for jaw-dropping views and alpine meadows. Make sure to pull over to snap photos of Rock Creek Canyon and Hellroaring Plateau before hitting Cooke City, the gateway to Yellowstone, where you can stock up on supplies at the 128-year-old Cooke City Store. From here it’s wall-to-wall pine forests and dramatic switchbacks. For secluded camping spots, try the Mammoth or Lamar River regions. The diverse wildlife — horned elk, bison, and grizzly bears — will keep their distance, but definitely brush up on backcountry etiquette, check trail availability, and obtain the proper permits before heading into the wild. And be prepared to cook your own food.
If you want to get back to nature without all the hoofing, check in to one of Yellowstone’s many lodges and hotels. Of the selection, the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins is the only one open almost year-round, and its proximity to the geyser for which it’s named pushes it to the front of the pack. Be sure to head away from the spout to see its small offshoots, even the Solitary Geyser.
Once you’re ready to return to (relative) civilization, make your way to nearby Jackson Hole, the cowboy-cum-celebrity town below the Grand Tetons that’s vibrant and bustling enough to entertain city folk but laid-back enough for an uncomplicated escape.
The Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins
Closed briefly between March and May and again between October and December, the Lodge and its cabins are the newest addition to the park and offer all of the amenities found in the big city.
With a seasonal menu that couples gourmet dining with down-home comfort food—pimenton grilled venison and meatloaf, for example— and an expansive wine list that includes more than 150 selections, this local favorite is a perfect reentry into society. 380 South Broadway, Jackson Hole; RendezvousBistro.net
Kayak on Yellowstone Lake
Shake off the trail dust by getting wet in Yellowstone Lake, a massive body of water on which the tour group OARS takes out regular day trips. OARS.com