Day 4: From SLC to Denver

After this trip Montana became one of our favorite states because of its amazing nature. Once you leave your hotel room you see green mountains, lakes and rivers everywhere around you. We couldn’t drive without stops there, we wanted to take pictures of everything!

We visited 3 main areas of the Glacier National Park: Two Medicine, Saint Mary and Many Glacier (next day).

Stop 1: Two Medicine and Running Eagle Falls 

Glacier Two Medicine Running Eagle Falls

Glacier Two Medicine Running Eagle Falls

Glacier Two Medicine

Glacier Two Medicine

Stop 2: Saint Mary and Baring Falls

Glacier Saint Mary

Glacier Saint Mary

Glacier Saint Mary

Glacier Saint Mary

Glacier Saint Mary Baring Falls

Glacier Saint Mary Baring Falls

Glacier Saint Mary Baring Falls

Glacier Saint Mary Baring Falls

Glacier Saint Mary Baring Falls

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Day 5

Day 2: From SLC to Denver

Stop 1: Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton is a beautiful National Park with amazing mountains and lakes. We drove through it on our way to Yellowstone and stopped in several places to enjoy the views.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

 

To me Yellowstone was one of the highlights of our trip. There are so many geysers and springs to watch and they are all very different: crystal clear blue water, mud geysers, boiling or erupting geysers. We didn’t do long stops and visited the main part of the park during the day. We did Mammoth Springs the next day. It was snowing both days and luckily there were not many tourists, but it was not possible to see Grand Prismatic Spring due to the heavy steam. Below are pictures from the main places.

Stop 2: Yellowstone West Thumb

Yellowstone West Thumb

Other than beautiful nature there are also many different wild animals around: elks and buffalo are everywhere. Grizzly bear crossed the road in front of us, and there was also a black bear further away.

Yellowstone West Thumb

Yellowstone West Thumb

Stop 3: Yellowstone Old Faithful Geyser

Unfortunately we didn’t see its eruption.

Yellowstone Old Faithful

Stop 4: Yellowstone Midway Geyser Basin, Grand Prismatic Spring

Yellowstone

Yellowstone Grand Prismatic

Yellowstone Grand Prismatic

Yellowstone

Yellowstone Grand Prismatic  Yellowstone Grand Prismatic

Yellowstone Grand Prismatic

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Stop 5: Gibbon Falls

Yellowstone Gibbon Falls

Yellowstone Gibbon Falls

Stop 6: Artist’s Point or the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Artist's Point

Stop 7: Lower and Upper Geyser Basin

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

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Day 3

Day 1: From SLC to Denver

Stop 1: Salt Lake City, UT

When we arrived to SLC on Friday’s evening we took a train ($2.5) to the downtown area where our hotel was. Our plan was to drink some local beer on Friday night and then pick up a car on Saturday morning. Rental offices work until 12pm on weekends so we rushed to get a car first thing in the morning. Probably because that rental location is not very busy, instead of a standard car we got this:

Idaho

Somewhere in Idaho

Then to save some money during our trip we went to Costco to build a stock of food for sandwiches, snacks and water. It was a great thing to do and we always had some quick snacks when we had to drive the whole day and there was nothing around.

Finally, we visited Utah State Capitol and Temple Square and then drove to Jackson, WY.

Salt Lake City Utah State Capitol

Utah State Capitol

Salt Lake City Temple Square

Salt Lake City Temple Square

Salt Lake City Temple Square

We can be wedding photographers too 🙂

Stop 2: Idaho Falls, ID

We made a very quick stop here to rest from driving and take a short walk along the river.

Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls

In general, I was nicely surprised with the views of Idaho. Everything around looks very green and well maintained. As an example, some of the views on our way:

Idaho

Idaho

Idaho

Idaho

Stop 3: somewhere in Wyoming

When we reached Wyoming, we were surprised by the weather. We thought that we packed for the wrong season 🙂

Wyoming

Wyoming

Wyoming

Wyoming

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Day 2

9 States and 6 National Parks in 10 Days: Yellowstone, Glacier, Badlands and Much More

Flight: Orange County, SNA –> Salt Lake City; Denver, DEN –> Orange County, SNA
SLC to DenverDuration
: 10 days
Mileage: ~3200
Starting point: Salt Lake City, UT
States: UT, ID, WY, MT, ND, SD, NE, KS, CO
Budget for 2 people: $1953 ($22.5* flight,  $500 car rental, $700 hotels, $300 gas, $330 food, $100 other)
Map

  • Day 0: flight from Orange County, SNA to Salt Lake City, SLC; night walk in the downtown
  • Day 1: explore Salt Lake City, UT; drive to Jackson, WY via Idaho Falls, ID (300 mi, 5 h)
  • Day 2: explore Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park; stay in Jackson, WY
  • Day 3: continue exploring Yellowstone; drive to Hungry Horse, MT (550 mi, 10 h)

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3 Days Trip to Albuquerque and Sedona

Duration: 3 days Albuquerque Old Town
Mileage: ~1600
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: AZ, NM
Budget for 6 people: $834 ($184 hotel, $250 gas, $350 food, $50 other)

  • Day 0: drive from Irvine, CA to Phoenix, AZ (360 mi, 6 h)
  • Day 1: drive from Phoenix, AZ to Albuquerque, NM (430 mi, 7 h)
  • Day 2: explore Albuquerque, NM; drive to Sedona, AZ (360 mi, 6 h)
  • Day 3: explore Sedona, AZ; drive home to Irvine, CA (470 mi, 7.5 h)

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New York, Boston, Washington DC and Philadelphia in 14 Days

Flight: Orange County, SNA –> New York, EWR –> Orange County, SNA
Duration: 14 days
Mileage: 0, used buses and public transportation MIT
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: NY, NJ, PA, MA, Washington DC
Budget for 2 people: $3000 ($1316 flight, $176 buses; $275 hotel, $1000 food, $230 other)

  • Days 0-4, 7, 11-14: New York
  • Days 5-6: Boston
  • Days 8-9: Philadelphia
  • Day 10: Washington DC

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3 Days in Yosemite, CA

Yosemite Nevada FallDuration: 3 days
Mileage: ~800
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: CA
Budget for 6 people: $2100 ($1300 chalet rental, $250 gas, $400 food, $150 other)

  • Day 0: drive from Irvine, CA to Yosemite, CA (350 mi, 7 h)
  • Day 1: explore Yosemite Valley, Lower Yosemite Fall, Mirror Lake
  • Day 2: do all day Panorama Trail hike
  • Day 3: visit Mariposa grove with giant sequoia trees; drive home (350 mi, 7 h)

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2 Days in Death Valley, CA

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley, CaliforniaDuration: 2.5 days
Mileage: ~1000
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: CA
Budget for 2 people: $440 ($160 hotel, $130 gas, $100 food, $50 other)

  • Day 0: drive from Irvine, CA to Lone Pine, CA (250 mi, 4 h)
  • Day 1: Stovepipe Wells Area: Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes (80 mi, 1.5 h); Scotty’s Castle Area: Scotty’s Castle (40 mi, 1 h),  Ubehebe Crater (9 mi, 25 min); back to Lone Pine, CA (130 mi, 2.5 h)
  • Day 2: Furnace Creek Area: Salt Flats (115 mi, 2.2 h), Artist’s Drive (10 mi, 30 min), Zabriskie Point (12 mi, 20 min), Dante’s View  (20 mi, 40 min); drive back to Irvine, CA (290 mi, 5 h)

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5 Day Trip to Seattle and Olympic National Park

Flight: Orange County, SNA –> Seattle, SEA –> Orange County, SNA
Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park, Forest, WashingtonDuration: 5 days
Mileage: ~500
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: WA
Budget for 2 people: $1530 ($613 flight, $57 car; $330 hotel, $80 gas, $250 food, $200 other)

  • Day 0: late flight from the Orange County, SNA to Seattle, SEA; sleep close to the airport to pick up a rental car next morning
  • Day 1: drive to Olympic National Park, WA; see Port Angeles, Clallam Bay (200 mi, 5 h); stay at Port Angeles
  • Day 2: continue exploring Olympic National Park, WA; see La Push, Hoh Rainforest and get lost taking a wrong road (400 mi, 8 h)
  • Day 3: explore Seattle; see Space Needle, Science Center, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Pike Place Market
  • Day 4: see Waterfront Park, Olympic Sculpture Park, downtown, Gum Wall; take a ferry to Bainbridge Island (35 min)
  • Day 5: walk to and take pictures from Kerry Park; fly back home

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Day 15: 12 States in 15 Days

This day we only visited NASA Space Center. If you decide to visit it ask for some guidance at the entrance. You need to reserve tram tickets in advance before they are all given away (they are free). There are also several theaters with scheduled shows. The shows tell you a lot of details and we found them very motivating. But most of all we enjoyed flight simulator ($7 / 4.5 min). Makes you feel in a military aircraft where you are controlling it and firing at the enemies.

 

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Day 14: 12 States in 15 Days

This day we drove to Dallas, TX via Oklahoma state. We stopped in Paris city, TX with their local version of Eiffel tower 🙂

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Dallas is a huge city which offers a variety of art museums, amusement parks, shops, restaurants, zoo, and aquarium. It is a modern city and a significant business hub. The city is split into several districts. We only explored the most touristic areas – Dallas downtown and uptown in the evening. Klyde Warren Park looked cozy at night with all the lights and Christmas decorations. We walked from the uptown to the Thanksgiving square and back. Uptown is a popular area for going out to the upscale restaurants.

Dallas

Dallas

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Day 15