For the last 30 years or so I have been organizing corporate incentive trips, events and conferences all over the US, and in other countries such as France and South Africa, but I have always wanted to send clients to Wyoming, because the sheer beauty of nature and the culture and traditions of Native peoples originating from this area, are just fascinating.
I never was able to do so, because, frankly logistically speaking, it is not the easiest and most obvious corporate destination in the mind of marketing directors, and CEOs.
In these days and age of trying to reconnect with our fellow humans, with nature and with the spirit of animals that shape an entire region, Wyoming and Yellowstone are THE PLACE TO GO; whether it is a business retreat or simply a family trip with or without your children. (It is a must for kids though!). I dare say, even alone, the soul of Yellowstone encompassing all its beings past and present, is more than enough to keep you company along your journey.
So our family and I went, this past August.
We started with Cody, Buffalo Bill's town. William F. Cody, was not a very nice person when it comes to respecting nature and understanding the consequences of his decimating bisons for the Native American people living on the land of their ancestors. He was a hunter, and an entertainer who brought fame to the town, where today the famous Irma hotel (named after his daughter) still stands in all its outdated glory.
We are deep in farming and western country here... Typically nature provides for everything, and hunting is a big part of the deal. So we tried to avoid talking about this with our children, as this is an upsetting subject.
However, Cody's Buffalo Bill's Center of the West museum is outstanding and really worth every minute spent in it! The Native Americans of the Plains exhibit is just beautiful.
They are doing a lot there for conservation as well, so it is a good thing.
We stayed in a quaint and cute B&B called K3 Ranch. We had to drive on a trail to get there, exactly what I was looking for, for our children. A few horses who are here for moral support, treated like kings and queens, and the owner Jerry, an 82 year old jokester who keeps a tight ship but oh a funny one, live there. Breakfast cooked outside on the fire, old wagons as beds in the room, and plenty of fields to run free for our children! Perfect! We took a trip to go check a herd of wild mustangs about 40 minutes away in a reserve where they are protected. Quite fascinating to learn about these magnificent creatures. Even more perfect, pronghorns visiting the edge of the ranch on the day we left!
After living Cody, we went straight to Yellowstone National Park and crossed Hayden Valley! BREATHTAKING! Bisons, which were on the brink of extinction in the late 1800's (only 100 remained in 1880!) are now grazing by the thousands in the valley and cross the roads to occasionally cause a Bison Traffic Jam. Rangers shrug their shoulders at people complaining (yeah... some people complain, can you believe that?). It is a pretty amazing thing to see and hear (see video above, we were car N2 behind such a jam of 2 bisons, arguing with each other and refusing to cross).
We set camp in Canyon Village for 3 nights at the Canyon Lodge. We just wanted to stay put and be able to just drive the different loops of the park and come back at night to rest in the same place. I recommend this stop, because it is centrally located to all interesting areas of the Park. Lake Village is nice, but if you have kids and you are not particularly attracted to water sports or water in general, you will find this part of the park less fun because there is less obvious wild life, and practically no geysers. Mammoth Hot springs is a nice place to be, because of all the elks that roam free in the 2 street town, but it is much further North... So really Canyon Village is best in my opinion. Plus, you have access to groceries, a few (touristic but practical) restaurants at the next crossroad...
Below images of our 1st few days in Wyoming and our 1st day in Yellowstone... Just amazing.
Part 2 and Part 3 to come soon...