This past Thanksgiving, we were planning on spending all weekend in Jackson Hole, WY. Unfortunately, Jackson Hole is a ghost town Thanksgiving weekend. We had Thanksgiving dinner at the Wort, drank local beers at the Virginian, and stayed at the Lodge at Jackson Hole. That pretty much exhausted any and all entertainment and dining option we had. So the next morning, we packed up and headed north across icy roads to West Yellowstone, MT.
The last time I was in West Yellowstone was the summertime, so seeing snow here was so nice! The roads in Yellowstone NP are closed from the West Yellowstone entrance during the winter. Luckily, there is still plenty to do in this town of 1200 people. If you only have 24 hours, consider the list below! *I was having so much fun here that I forgot to take very many photos!
Things to do:
West Yellowstone Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center
If you have ever wanted to see a Grizzly Bear without the risk of being attacked, this is probably your safest bet. The Discovery Center, is by no means a zoo. They take in animals that otherwise would not be able to survive in the wild. Animals here have minimal human contact, and are set up to live their lives as closely to what they would in the wild. It is also a non-profit which is usually a good sign that the animals best interest are at stake. The Naturalists that work at the Discovery center are extremely knowledgable and do a great job teaching everyone about the animals. I was extremely taken back by the beauty of the wolves and their sheer size. We go to witness an enrichment session where the wolves had to "hunt" for their hidden food via trails of animal scents the Naturalists sprinkled. Admission is $13 for adults and good for two days of admission.
Rendezvous Ski Trails
If you want to experience West Yellowstone at its finest, cross country skiing is the way to go. The weekend we were in West Yellowstone was Ski Festival weekend, Unfortunately, that meant no skiing for us, as races were going on. However, it was awesome to watch! 35 km of groomed trails that wind through US Forest Land. You can rent skis from Free Wheel and Heel downtown West Yellowstone!
Have you ever seen a photo on Pinterest and just knew that something so magical and awesome doen't really exist? And if it does happen to exist, it costs tons of money or is on some inaccessible island far away? That was what I first thought when I saw a photo of Mystic Hot Springs - old bathtubs situated in rock formations with natural mineral hot springs pouring into them. To my surprise, they were located in Utah! And only 2.5 hours from Salt Lake City.
We left around 11am Sunday morning headed to Monroe, UT. The directions were simple:
"From Salt Lake City, I-15 south to the Scipio exit number 188, take Hwy 50 east (aprox 25 miles) to I-70 west, proceed to exit 31, go left at bottom of the off ramp, continue for 2 miles, then go right on Hwy 118 for 3-4 miles to center of Monroe, turn left on 100 North and go up the hill 5 blocks to the big white building at end of road." (from Mystic Hot Springs'website)
When we pulled up we were surrounded by old cabins, school buses you can camp in, beautiful land and of course, ice! We went into the office, paid our $15 to soak (which is good for all day! plus, they are open 24/7!) and changed into our bathing suits. No nudity or alcohol is allowed in the soaking area. Everyone was super friendly!
There were 6 different bathtubs and a mineral pool to soak in. Of course, I had to try out every tub. They all had varying temperatures of water and unique views. The water was so rejuvenating. My skin was smooth, and I felt amazing. We soaked on and off for a couple of hours before heading to our next adventure!